Friday, October 30, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Because this cheese is aged at least 4 months, it is beautifully crumbly (more time aging = more moisture loss = crumbles!) with little air holes throughout the paste. But even dry, it sports the oily sheen of a good sheep cheese. It is so light and delicious, though. Not a bit oily on the tongue. It isn't overly salty, and I swear I can taste the fresh spring grass that the sheep were grazing on in beautiful Catalonia. I can't tell you how much I need to go there!
Anyway, this cheese is subtly complex. There is a sweetness to it - butterscotch maybe? And near the rind, I swear I could taste a little citrus - grapefruit? Further research was necessary - a few more bites. Yup, a definite sweetness at the end, and it smells of the meadows. Sigh. I really likes this cheese - just don't eat the rind. To hard.
This cheese would be amazing on a cheese plate - a little cube of surprise to enjoy with a Zinfandel. (Which I did!) I also ended up grating a huge amount of it to put on a dinner of ravioli, broccoli, peas and a little olive oil infused with garlic, salt, pepper and basil. A great alternative to Parmesan. Yum!
I'm dreaming of a cheese trip to Spain! How about you?
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Anyway, Renata is one heck of a cow. Whatever she's snacking on in the fields is amazing. I swear she's eating herb salad rich in parsley and sorrel. According to the website, all the cows graze in the farm's aspen pasture every day. How dreamy! This cheese has a bit of the tang that comes from a washed rind cheese, but none of the sticky-ness. Darling Husband thought it was strong enough to compete with "the white part of a blue cheese." I didn't think it was quite that strong, but it was really creamy, nutty, tangy and herbal.
The leaves certainly keep the cheese moist, which I think helps make it so creamy. You can't eat them, though. In fact, if you've ever rolled your own cigarette or smoked an unfiltered cig, picking out the leaf bits out of your teeth whilst eating cheese reminds one of picking tobacco leaves from your teeth during your smoke. A gross analogy, I know, but it's what came to mind. (Yes, I used to occassionally indulge. No more - clouds the ability to taste cheese!) The mold layer under the leaves isn't really that tasty, and the texture is a little mealy. Not for the faint of heart, but not terrible.
I think I might really enjoy Renata as a bit of cheese toast, but at $38/pound, it would be a little more extravagant than my current budget will allow. For now, I'll enjoy it with a little Cabernet Franc and a cracker.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Continuing on the theme of wrapped and packed cheese for this week, for your drooling pleasure, Romao! This sheep's milk cheese from Spain is rubbed in olive oil and rosemary during its eight months in the cave. This cheese is 27% milk fat! It is definitely a bit on the oily side, or at least the chunk I got from the end of a wheel was. But you'd be oily too if you were marinated in olive oil for eight months! It looks really shaggy with all the rosemary stuck to the oil and cheese. Romao comes in one pound wheels from the region of Cuenca, Spain in the center/east of the country. According to Wikipedia (I know, I know...), this region is full of gorges, which I'm sure create a very exciting climate for the sheep! This is definitely a sheep cheese. Full of its own oils and nuttiness, it has a complexity beyond the rosemary.
Anyway, the rosemary flavor doesn't permeate the interior of the paste, but like the other cheeses this week, the flavor does go at least 1/2 inch in. Because it is aged for as long as it is, it has that crumbly, almost crunchy texture. The oil bath does reduce the crunchiness a bit, but it doesn't drown it out completely.
Perhaps the thing I was least expecting is that the shaggy rind wipes right off, due I suppose to the olive oil mixed with the rosemary crust. Originally, I cut the rind off, but after the Darling Husband swiped the last TWO pieces at the same time, I needed to figure out a way to feed my own cheese hunger, successfully wiping it all off, and munching down on the completely edible rind dimpled with impressions left by the rosemary leaves. Sigh.
Oh, and very tasty with a Cabernet Franc from the Santa Ynez Valley, though I'm sure a Spanish red wine would be perfect! Ole.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
This week has become "Wrapped and Covered" week. Everything I've brought into the house, shared with Darling Husband and tortured Perfect Dog with has been packed with something - peppercorns or grape sediment. Tonight, I visited with Andrew's Cheese with a very specific goal in mind - wrapped cheese. Cheeses wrapped in leaves during aging get a lot of flavor there, and I'm pretty sure the leaves help keep some moisture as well. Beyond my requirement for having wrapped cheese, I didn't have anything in mind. Goat cheese, blue cheese and many other cheeses come wrapped.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
This week seems to be about how cheese can be influenced by what it's wrapped in during the aging process. Yesterday, peppercorns, today grapes! Beppino Ocelli's Piedmont dairy makes butter and cheese from cows, goats and sheep who graze on pastures full of wildflowers and herbs, and it really shows in his cheeses. In fact, according to his website, Sr. Ocelli is actively involved in research at the University of Turin to improve meadows for grazing.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
*Life at the Cheesedreaming house has been a little hectic, and we had a delightful half round of L'Ami du Chambertin, a rare washed rind stinker from France waiting in the fridge for a thoughtful tasting. Granted, it was starting to stink up the fridge, but at no point did I tell Darling Husband that he could take this untouched nugget in to eat at the office! Today, I get a text telling me that he had taken in the cheese! Grrr. But, rather than get mad that I didn't have a chance to really enjoy this beautiful cheese, washed in brandy, ripening from the outside in, and hailing from Gevrey-Chambertin in Burgundy, his punishment was to write up the story of his snack, eaten on old bread and saltines. Here is his story.
"L'Ami du Chambertin is a cheese of a feather, meaning it is soft with an orange, wrinkled rind (don’t be afraid). It is said to be the stronger brother to the famed Epoisses de Bourgogne of
The way I came across it may have been a little nefarious, and it was not eaten in the best of circumstances, but it was worth it! If you like soft, spreadable cheeses, prepare yourself for a flavor that will go from a textural experience, to a taste, to a smell all through your mouth. The pleasing flavor goes through the roof of your palette into your nostrils. More than barnyard-y. More than dairy. A bit eggy? The taste comes through on your nose, more than on your tongue. Its strength is in its richness, and that’s where the real delight is. Smooth on the tongue no matter what it rests on, a cracker or a piece of dry bread. Yes, it’s that creamy!
I came across this sovereign because I dared to take my wife, auteur of this blog, a bit too seriously. She’d worried out loud that about how long we’d let it sit, and mused that it might possibly be out-living it’s welcome in our fridge. Seeing this as an opportunity, I heisted it one morning as I ducked out to work. I admit that eating with such royalty, at your desk at work, would get you shunned in any European court. But, this concoction aux cow is so delicious that it deserves the respect of a plate, good bread, and a wine with a body to it. I had it with old bread and apple slices, greedily! I got in trouble for it too! Taste this precious Frenchie and you’ll understand!"
(Please feel free to suggest further forms of punishment for the gluttonous behavior exhibited here by Darling Husband. Somehow, eating 4 oz of amazing French cheese alone requires slightly more punishment than getting to write about it...don't worry - he's not sleeping on the couch!)