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Cheese monged: Part 2 (in which we are shamed, sated)

December 17, 2009
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Eager to bolster the cheese in our stomachs as well as on this flog, my lovely wife and I headed down to Pastoral, which had been on the “we should go there” list for years now. Having no real plan as to why we were there, we kind of hemmed and hawed until a woman asked if we wanted to try anything. Ian’s brain: “Yes, everything. Now.” Ian’s mouth: “Um.” So the lady proceeded to start whipping out hunks of cheese and slicing off slivers for us to taste. There was a lot of bumbling on our part and much patience on her part, with a couple touch-and-go moments where I kinda thought she might just ask us to leave. But she didn’t, and after she suffered such inane comments as “Kinda like a goat cheese” (which was apparently the dumbest thing I could have said, but dammit she had to have known what I meant–that chalky, crumbly tube of white gunk you get at the supermarket that says GOAT CHEESE) and “That’s a really mild blue” (reason: not a blue) we left with our pride in tatters but a bag full of cheese for dinner. The cheese lady was sassy, all right,  but she definitely hooked up us.

Here’s our spread:

From left to right: Queso de la Serena, Tallegio, Saint Agur Blue, and Covadonga. Not the prettiest array, I’ll admit, but who cares?

Queso de la Serena

Critter: cow. Country: Spain. Type: Semi-soft. Rawness: Raw! Aged: 2-3 months.

When we were in the store and mentioned we’d recently been to Spain, the lady asked if we’d had any of this stuff. When we said no she looked like she was about to cry (though who knows, it’s completely possible we had some–we certainly had a lot of cheese and I don’t have a clue what most of it was because I know squat and remember even less). Anyway, she made this whole big deal about this cheese and how amazing it was and a bunch of techy talk about rennett and other stuff that bonked right off our thick skulls. But, we liked it when we tried it, though for some reason eating it that night we were both decidedly less awed. Cheese lady claimed it was an unforgettable cheese, but she underestimated me. I’ve forgotten it in less than 24 hours.

Taleggio

Critter: cow. Country: Italy. Type: Semi-soft, washed rind. Rawness: not raw. Aged: min. 35 days.

Apparently this is kind of a stinky cheese for cowards. We were at a dinner over the weekend that had mac ‘n cheese made with Taleggio and it was killer, so we were eager to really get into some. The aroma’s a little funky, but by no means repellent, and the texture is, well, perfect, and melts like butter on your tongue with a mild but deeply savory and kinda tangy flavor. I LOVE it. I must have more. A new favorite.

Saint Agur Blue

Critter: cow. Country: France. Type: double-cream blue. Rawness: not raw. Aged: 2 months.

Now we get into the blues. Our cheese lady refused to give us any other sort of cheeses to taste once we’d drifted into the blue territory, because I guess the flavors would blow our tastebuds’ minds so much that they would be unable to cope with anything else. So we heeded her warnings in the store, though I wondered just how long until we could reclaim our palates from laying in smoldering ruins–an hour? All day? Forever? Anyway, at home we of course said to hell with it and ate the blues out of order, but why not? I tried the milder cheeses before the blues, then again after, and they tasted different. Not worse. Not less. Just different. I found it kind of fascinating how taste is so relative and how you can screw with it by going big then small, and small then big. Note: oranges taste super weird after a mouthful of blue cheese. Anyway, the Saint Agur Blue is spectacularly creamy–way creamier than it is blue-ey. A winner.

Covadonga

Critter: cow and sheep blend. Country: Spain. Type: blue. Rawness: not raw. Aged: 2-3 months.

Salty! Beefy! Perky! Good! A killer blue that hit my numbed, weary taste buds just right. Seemed to have more of those blue bits than other blue cheeses–in fact, there may have been more blue bits than white binder. If this cheese was a person it would probably be a really annoying person–overly bubbly and peppy. Good thing it couldn’t talk. It would have been too busy being chewed anyway.

So, learned a bit more about cheese, and I think I’ll start a cheese power rankings, because who doesn’t love power rankings?

1: Taleggio

2: Saint Agur Blue (more like 1a)

3: Piave Vecchio

4: Covadonga

5: Queso de la Serena (though I’m willing to admit it may need to be revisited)

6: Vacherin Fribourgeois

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 28, 2010 6:48 am

    I read this post and it made me so hungry I had to dig the last 2 oz. of Roarin 40’s blue out of the fridge 🙂

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