Imagine - you are walking along through the Pyrenees mountains on a beautiful late summer day. It is cool enough to wear a light sweater. The sky is bluer than you have ever seen, the air is crisp and smells of fresh grass and wild flowers. The hills are alive with the sound of music....You stumble upon a darling little cave that seems to welcome you in. There is even grass growing into the front of the cave. A shaft of sunlight beckons you in. A butterfly flits past.
Got it? If you aren't completely nauseated by the pastoral vision I've created for you, keep reading because this is how Tome de Couserans smells. And it is how I imagine the Ariege region of France smells. Well, perhaps with a slight whiff of cow poop.
Tonight being the first Wednesday in 2010, I thought we should celebrate with a little something special. Cheesemonger Andrew didn't disappoint! Couserans is a very special cheese. It is quite rare, coming from a very small region in France, where I'm sure the livestock out number the people three to one. It is also a cow's milk cheese in a very sheepy region. Beyond that, it is just an incredible cheese that melts onto the tongue, leaving it's musty sweetness behind to savor (as I did with a glass of red and a bowl of brussels sprouts).
The natural rind looks like a perfectly baked whole-wheat dinner roll, textured but not wrinkly. I did try eating this. Not a great idea. Better for smelling in this case. The paste inside is an almost buttermilk cream color, with delicate little holes throughout which add to the tender tooth. And the taste! Summer butter, fresh green grass (from that cute butterfly ridden cave), just enough tang in the middle and end to hold your attention, and get you reaching for the cheese knife for another bite! If I could find that cave, and eat this cheese in that cave, perhaps life would be complete.
Or maybe it's just another Wednesday night cheese dream!