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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

"Cheese, Grommit!!"

My job had a cheese tasting day today, hosted by my awesome boss's sister who is a specialist in wines and cheeses. It was a really interesting event. We were given three kinds of wine: Zinfandel, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon. I started off with the Zinfandel, and after #4, I finished it off, and had a glass of Chardonnay, which lasted me through the other two. I went through the list again, with a bit of Cabernet, and then went back to Chardonnay. The event lasted about two hours, during which socializing occured.

These forms are what Elizabeth gave us to tell us about the cheeses. The italics are what I wrote on the forms.

Cheese #1 -- Sophia
Milk: Goat, pasteurized
Origin: Indiana, USA
Producer: Judy Schad
Description: Similar to chevers found in the Loire Valley, this cheese is marbled with ash, shaped and dried slightly before being placed in a cave to form a wrinkly white rind.
Tasting notes: Dense, wonderfully textured, creamy, light moist paste with a slightly tangy taste.
Pairings: Crisp dry Loire valley Sauvignon Blanc, such as Sancerre.
Your notes: Very smooth cheese. I really enjoyed it with the Zinfandel. And plain. It's good all around.

Cheese #2 -- Coulommiers
Milk: Cow, pasteurized
Origin: Ile de France, FRANCE
Producer: Ferme Jehen de Brie
Description: Brie's little brother (or grandfather) but smaller and thicker. Ripened for 4 weeks with a white penicillin mold.
Tasting notes: Buttery, creamy, mild with a mouth-coating texture.
Pairings: Particularly suited to dry acidic whites or champagne/
Your notes: This one was an awesome one. I'm not a big brie fan, but this was really good. It is good with Zinfandel, but is overpowered by it.

Cheese #3 -- Ossau Iraty
Milk: Sheep, unpasteurized
Origin: Pyrenees, FRANCE
Producer: Herve Mons, affineur
Description: This cheese has been made with the same recipe for hundred of years in the mountain villages of the Basque Country. Made from the milk of the Manech and the Basc-Bernaiser sheep. Best in Fall - Winter as the cheese is produced from the spring milk, making it more floral. It is aged from 3 - 5 months and each wheel is hand turned every three weeks.
Tasting notes: Delicious melt-in-the-mouth texture with lingering hints of hazelnut and lanolin.
Pairings: Wine-friendly cheese particularly good with Chardonnay and Zinfandel.
Your notes: This one was my favorite so far. The hints of flavor add a lot to it for me.

Cheese #4 -- Adrahan
Milk: Cow, unpasteurized
Origin: County Cork, IRELAND
Producer: Mary Burns
Description: Modern, farmhouse, vegetarian, washed-rind cheese. The ridged, brine-washed rind is encrusted with brown, ochre, gray and yellow molds.
Tasting notes: "Smells like a drunken sailor on shore leave". Firm, slightly chalky interior with a distinctive, earthy aroma. Complex flavors with a zesty acidity underscoring the buttery, savory, meaty character.
Pairings: Excellent with Pinot Noir, Rhone Valley blends or California Zinfandel (always great with a pint of stout).
Your notes: I've never eaten a gym sock before. I don't know if I ever will again. Yes, I ate the rind, which I now know you shouldn't do, but I'm terrified to try it again without it... But I did, and without the rind, it is much better...
...although I still don't like it...


Cheese #5 -- Roomano (not a misspelling)
Milk: Cow, pasteurized
Origin: Southern Holland
Description: Similar to aged Gouda and considered the Parmigiano-Reggiano of the Netherlands. Aged for as long as 6 years to produce a deep orange, crunchy, crystalline texture.
Tasting notes: Strong and spicy with sweet, fruity flavor with strong hints of caramel and butterscotch.
Pairings: Bordeaux blends (Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot), California Zinfandel.
Your notes: This one beats out #3, Ossau Iraty. I love Parmesan, and this was Parmesan +2.

Cheese #6 -- Cashel Blue
Milk: Cow, pasteurized
Origin: Tipperary, IRELAND
Producer: Grubb Family
Description: Made with the same recipe ad Roquefort but using cow's milk rather than sheep, giving it a smoother milder creamier, less salty flavor.
Tasting notes: Moist, creamy, semi-soft. Mellow tasting for a blue with a deep sweetness cut by the tangy saltiness of the blue veins.
Pairings: Madeira, tawny port, or Hungarian Takaji
Your notes: I thought this one was strong. It was good, but still strong. I had Chardonnay with it, and it was a good complement. I enjoyed the kick.

So, yeah, there you go. There's my news for the day. Don't you wish you were me?
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