Cheesemonger Dan Black

Hometown: Philadelphia (Frankford neighborhood)

Years at Di Bruno Bros.: 3+

His job: I specialize in aging flurry rind goat cheeses – Selles-sur-Cher, Saint Maure, Crottin de Chavignol. They require constant air and constant moisture – you’ve got to keep an eye on them or they’ll go under.

Recently, Daphne Zeppos was in here. She’s an aging specialist, and she said, “Wow, I’ve never had a Crottin like that before.” Holy cow! I was so excited.

How he learned about affinage: Trial and error. When I came on at Di Bruno Bros., we had an aging cave but nobody was using it, so Rich [Morillo] and I started experimenting. We destroyed a horrifying amount of cheese. But we learned a lot. I love working with Crottins – they’re my little guys. Nothing makes me happier than being inside the cave, listening to some Iron Maiden, and playing with my cheeses.

Cheese of the Moment: I love a good goat cheese Crottin. When I first tried it, I hated it, I’m not going to lie. Then I had a locally made Crottin from Shellbark with some strawberry jam on an English muffin. That changed everything.

I also love Sue Miller’s cheeses. Her Fat Cat is great. And her last wheel of Birchrun Blue tasted like a Roquefort and a Stilton had one night of passion.

Words to live by: I’m a foodie. I love food, and I love getting other people to eat it. I learned that from my mom. Feed people and they’re basically happy.

His ideal meal: A good steak, blue cheese, and a nice whiskey. Nothing beats a Delmonico with a dry blue, like Bleu D’Auvergne.

On bread: Ciabatta is my favorite bread for cheese. It’s so airy – it’s perfect.

On beer: I grew up on Miller Lite and Budweiser. My first event with Di Bruno’s was a Sly Fox and Unibroue tasting, and I was like, wow, this is how beer is supposed to taste! My next tattoo is going to be a beer label — Stone Brewery’s Arrogant Bastard.

Favorite hangout: Nodding Head Brewery – they’re like Di Bruno Bros. but with beer instead of cheese. They’ll let you try anything.

Best thing about Philadelphia: You can hop on a bus and get anywhere.

At the end of our interview, Dan Black offered a list of his favorite cheeses. Stop in and talk to him at the Di Bruno Bros. cheese counter at 17th and Chestnut.

Dan Black’s Top 10 Cheeses

  1. Crottin de Chavignol
  2. Bayley Hazen Blue
  3. Stichelton
  4. Montgomery’s Cheddar
  5. Pleasant Ridge Reserve
  6. Parmigiano Reggiano
  7. Cabot Clothbound Cheddar
  8. Piave
  9. Monte Enebro
  10. Anything from Jasper Hill
    (esp. Winnimere, Constant Bliss)

For more cheesemonger interviews, visit Madame Fromage