Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cheese for a Wednesday, pt. 19 - A new sheep in the 'hood

Last week at Andrew's Cheese Shop, I spotted this ancient looking cheese sitting in the case.  "What is this," I wondered out loud.  Samples were proffered, and as per usual, stories were told and comparisons - both ridiculous and relevant were made.

While this cheese, Brebis du Lavort, may look like it's shape was designed by druids back in the 2nd century BC  it was actually created in the 1990s by cheese maker Patrick Beaumont in the Auvergne region of France.  I thought it was pretty clever of Mr. Beaumont to design a cheese that looked like it had been dug out of the ground, or stored in an ancient log  but was created during the Clinton adminstration, about the time that Shabby Chic was really hitting it's stride.  Andrew wasn't so sure that the good folk of the Auvergne are capable of that kind of marketing ploy.  It seems that this area of France is less modern than other areas.   Anyway...far be it from me to judge.  Especially when the cheese is good!

The design is modern, but the mold is borrowed  from a Spanish cheese called Tronchon (which Andrew also has - must get that one for a comparison.).  This mold is caked on thick.  The bark-like texture keeps the cheese nice and moist during the aging process, but I didn't even give it a taste.  Did I mention it's bark-like texture?  This cheese is aged in a in an old water tower, which is unique, I think.  Unfortunately, I learned about this before I tasted the cheese and so, in the back of my mind I was thinking "moldy water tower."  It was interesting how the shape of the cheese seemed to make a difference in each bite.  A bite taken from the top of the "volcano" reminded me of a nice sharp cheddar, while a bite taken from the bulge just made me think of a (tasty) old water pipe.  Very odd.  Andrew claims a definite flavor of hazelnuts.  Maybe I need to eat more hazlenuts.

I think this is one of those cheeses that tasted better in a sample at the store than in chunks.  The complexity of this cheese requires more than chunks and crackers.  Now that I'm full, and all the cheese is gone, I'm thinking that it would have been perfect on a baked potato.  The old water pipe flavor might have mellowed to an "earthy" flavor that would have rocked with some parsley and butter.  Next time.

Sweet dreams!

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