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Cheese monged: Leftovers

January 29, 2010
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Went down to the deli next to my office for a sandwich this afternoon, and as I was waiting in line happened to be standing next to the cheese section of a little cooler. There’s invariably wedges of Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino-Romano sitting there, but today there was also a half wheel of real-looking (i.e. not factory made) brie along with a few smaller pieces. I figured it was about time for a cheese-for-dinner night, so I grabbed a triangle to go along with a couple of hunks that were leftover from various meals this week–a blue that I’d stuffed inside of burgers (good idea, need to firm up the technique) and some Gruyère used for a quiche (seared mushrooms and caramelized onions ftw). Here they be:

Brie Couronne, Henri Hutin

Critter: Cow. Country: France. Type: Soft; double cream. Rawness: Not raw. Aged: ???

I’ve never been all that awed by brie, but I’m thinking that may be just because I’ve only had crappy brie. Fact about brie: it gets 600% better if it’s just a bit melty. Yes, I know that there are few cheeses that don’t get better as they melt, but the degree to which brie’s yumminess skyrockets is downright alarming. Anyway, we ate this one unmelted and it was simply superb. Let it warm up a bit in on your tongue it just turns to buttery goo in your mouth. I now get why brie matters, and that even though the taste is somewhat delicate and mild, it can still be an intense eating experience. Hard to get a lot of outside info on this cheese, but from what I gather it’s 60% butterfat which is a number I get down with. Fat’s the best.

Roth Käse Grand Cru Gruyère Surchoix

Critter: cow. Country: US (Wisconsin). Type: Firm. Rawness: Raw! Aged: At least 9 months.

Seems like maybe since this is made in Wisconsin they don’t really have any business sticking the accent over that e, do they? But, judging by their name, Roth Käse has no problem dropping accents wherever they so desire. And, I guess they can do pretty much whatever they please as they make a business of cleaning up at cheese awards, and this one in particular gets heaps and heaps of love year after year. I was under the assumption that Gruyère was name controlled, like Parmigiano-Reggiano, and could only be made in Switzerand from hardy Swiss cows in musty Swiss caves, but I guess I was wrong. Apparently, Roth Kase (which is one of the bigger highly-regarded American creameries) uses imported copper vats and maybe even an imported Switzerlander or two to make their Gruyères in the traditional Alpine manner, and might be making the Swiss sweat a bit. I thought it was good, possibly great, nutty and mushroomy and full-bodied and loaded with those crunchy crystals that I adore. All in all, really good, really yum, but why didn’t I love it? I feel like this cheese should have made me crazy, but it didn’t. But I guess it’s hard to knock something for not completely blowing you away.

Roth Käse Buttermilk Blue

Critter: Cow. Country: Wisconsin. Type: Blue. Rawness: Raw! Aged: 6 months

I like having the majority of cheeses on a plate be raw. Feels like I’m sticking it to the FDA somehow, which I know is totally ridiculous but it’s still fun to pretend to be some kind of anti-government-cheese-fiddling pirate. This one’s another winner from Roth Käse. Creamy, tangy and sharp and a bit sweet, though very light on the blue-iness. I like my blues to really wind up and suckerpunch me in the face, so while this is perfectly delicious it won’t make the list of favorites, even though I’m hugely in favor of anything with buttermilk in it, even if only in name. Anyone drink that stuff straight? Heaven. I should find out if there is any actual buttermilk used in this cheese.

/spends an hour in the Google wormhole

Shockingly, no. Or yes. I forgot to stay on course.

Updated cheese power rankings (yup–these are already completely useless, but I’m not one to let anything as inconsequential as uselessness hinder me from comparing apples to oranges):

1. Taleggio

2. Piave vecchio (jumpfrogged the Saint Agur Blue for no real good reason)

3. Saint Agur Blue

3a. Brie Couronne

4. Roth Kase Gruyère Surchoix

5: Covadonga

6. Buttermilk Blue

7. Queso de la Serena (again, may need revisiting)

8. Vacherin Fribourgeois

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 29, 2010 7:26 pm

    Dynamite.

    MOAR CHEEZE POASTS PLZ.

    • measinstu permalink*
      January 29, 2010 7:41 pm

      Thanks–if I had my druthers every night would be cheese-dinner night. Stupid nutrient-needing body.

  2. paul permalink
    February 1, 2010 1:56 pm

    re: melty brie, etc: i’m assuming by now you make it a habit to let all your cheese get to room temp before consuming? (did i just insult you?)

    re: something else: remember that cheese book i used to have? one of my favorite quotes: “stilton is roquefort with a college education”.

    • measinstu permalink*
      February 2, 2010 1:13 am

      Ya–room temp for sure. Which, it being February in Chicago, is about 53 degrees in our apt.

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