Cheese


For those that read my St. Marcellin review from ages ago, and were intrigued, I have further news about this fabulous creamy cheese.  Not only is it almost drippy when perfectly ripe (when buying, remember to tap on the top to make sure it’s gooey inside), if you have access to a Wegmans, you MUST try the St. Marcellin spread on their rosemary sea salt sourdough bread. OMFG.  mr. jolt and I have been known to devour a whole loaf, piece by piece, spread with a whole crock of cheese in one sitting.  More than once.  Usually as our “appetizer” and then realizing we are totally stuffed and have no room for whatever we were planning to have for dinner.

We are talking GOOD.  I mean really good.  If you do not have access to a Wegmans (we only got ours about a year ago) see if your local frou-frou bread place has something similar & give it a shot.  The combination of the crusty outside (salt, mmm), the soft inside, spread with cheese that is literally dripping off the knife as you lift from the crock towards the slice of divinity, is just, just. . .

Ahem.  Anyway, you must, must try it.

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For those of my fellow cheese loving readers, a friend and fellow cheese-lover who lurks here regularly, sent me the following link to the Pacific Northwest Cheese Project.  It has all sorts of cheese info for your gastronomical pleasure.  Enjoy!

For those of you wondering if I will ever write about cheese again, it depends.  For various reasons, I have not been eating as many new varieties of cheese lately and my love for cheese is, shall we say, not intellectual in that I know what I like, but I’m not a cheese expert or cheese sommelier.   In other words, I felt like some of my cheese posts were a bunch of smoked gouda trying to pass as aged gouda.   But, should I stumble across some fabulous cheese that you MUST find and eat immediately, I assure you I will post on said cheese forthwith.

Once again, the selections that arrived for this month’s cheese of the month club were a mix: two cheeses that, while excellent, are not at all unusual.  And one I hadn’t had before: Cantal.

Cantal is a French cow’s milk cheese and is an older style, older than Roquefort and Livarot (according to the flyer that came with it).  I think it looks somewhat like Gruyere, and has a somewhat similar flavor, but the texture is softer.  The consistency is of a sharp cheddar, so it’s easier to slice.  Also, I think the flavor is nuttier than Gruyere, with a hint of butter.

Cantal comes in several types, one made from raw milk, Cantal Fremier, and the other from pastuerized milk, Cantal Laitier.  The sample I had was the latter.  It would be great in a gratin or soup, but as a French poet once said, “To elaborate on Cantal is an error of taste; it is all simplicity.”  Delicious!

I was planning to write about one of the other cheese of the month club cheese today, but instead I’m going to write about a cheese I picked up at Wegmans: Brillat Savarin.  They were giving out samples last weekend and mmm, tasty, so we grabbed a triangle and brought it home and had it with dinner tonight.

It is a super creamy triple creme Brie that puts those insipid Bries you generally find to shame.  It feels like butter on the tongue. Delicious!  It looks like other bries from the outside, the slightly collapsed white rind, but the texture and flavor are superior.  According to the wiki on it, some call it “Dairylea for grownups” because of the texture. 

Anywho, if you like a super creamy cheese, perfect for crusty french bread, this is a good one.

So, I was a little disappointed when we got the first set of cheeses of the month (not just one, but three!) because a couple of them were stuff I’d had before.  For me, half the point was to try something NEW and DIFFERENT.  But, I will hold off on resignation in the hopes that they are easing into the cheese world gently in case any recipients are cheese newbies.

Grana Padano is the one cheese I got this time that I had not had before.  It is very similar to Parmigiano Reggiano.  According to the flyer that came with the cheese it’s “fruity overtones . . evoke pineapple or strawberry, depending on the season.”  Maybe it’s because its winter, but I wasn’t tasting it.  But, it does taste yummy.  I’d say it’s a little bit softer than parmesan, so its easier to slice for a sandwich or for melting on something.    Several slices make a nice contrast to a mesclun salad with balsamic dressing.

The particular ‘brand’ of Grana Padano I had was Stravecchio Oro Del Tempo, in which each wheel is “branded with a unique serial number.”  This step is apparently supposed to reassure you as to the strict testing to ensure that only the best cheese becomes “prime Grana Padano Stravecchio”, but to me it just sounds like souped-up PR talk.   

That said, it is definitely good cheese, but I’m not sure it’s different enough from Parmagiano to be worth going to a speciality cheese shop as opposed to picking up what’s available at the local supermarket.

I will report on the other January cheeses in the coming weeks.  Please, for my sake (and yours) let’s hope the February cheeses are a little more inspiring.

mr. jolt kindly got me a ‘subscription’ to a cheese of the month club for Christmas, so I hope to step up the cheese posts over the next few months.  I believe I promised more cheese posts after my last visit to Artisinal, but the truth is, I was uninspired by the other cheeses I had.  We did not choose well overall.  mr. jolt blames the Artisinal cheese menu which lists the cheeses only by source: cow/sheep/goat, and country.  We need more detail!  Harrumph.  so we left a lengthy comment on their ‘comment’ card (Hey, if you didn’t want our opinion, you shouldn’t have asked).

Anyway, the first cheese just arrived so I will be reporting soon, assuming there is something worth reporting.  No point in telling you something is adequate.  It should either be yummy (as in, listen you fool, go buy this now) or hideous (as in, demand your money back).  So, we’ll see. the first batch does not have dramatically unknown names to me, so I am dubious.  Stay tuned.

*Okay, so it’s not Tuesday.  Work is really frantic right now, leaving less personal time in the evenings, so I’m running behind.  Anyway, on with the Cheese Post:

mr. jolt & I took some time while in the city last weekend to nibble some new cheese (other reviews will appear in the coming weeks).  One of these was Bleu d’Auvergne, a French cow’s milk blue cheese that is simply delicious.

It’s creamy in texture and much milder than Valdeon or Cabrales, so if you don’t like super pungent blues such as those, d’Auvergne may be more your speed.  It spreads easily (like butter!) onto a slice of French baguette.  I definitely give a big thumbs up.  If only I’d had a cooler with me, I would have packed some to bring home.

It is made in the Auvergne region of south-central France -see the wiki on it if you want more background.  I can attest that it works well with a glass of Reisling, as the wiki suggests.

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