Jan 31 2011

Say Cheese

Published by at 9:27 pm under Cooking Classes,Entertaining

Luckily for me, part of being a food expert is developing a keen sense of taste. That means my culinary education has included several tasting sessions so far, including but not limited to: wine, caviar, champagne, smoked fish and coffee. Life is hard, no?

Most recent was perhaps the most exciting spread of all: cheese! We tasted semi-soft, semi-hard and hard cheeses, dry and stinky ones, cow, goat and sheep. The structured layout of this plate was no accident.

Starting at six o’clock and moving right, the first three are bloomy rind cheeses — single cream, double cream and triple cream, indicating the fat content of each. They are generally mild with a smooth rind and tend to be a bit sweet.

The next couple are natural rind and washed rind cheeses (the outside looks kind of like a wrinkly brain). They are earthier and smellier — the word “barnyard” was actually brought up in conversation to describe them. No thanks.

The next four, the semi-hard cheeses, are denser and more aged, with a nutty taste and oily consistency. The third one of those (around eleven o’clock) was actually a genuine cheddar — apparently it’s one of those things like Champagne, which should only be called cheddar if it comes from the Cheddar Gorge region. Who knew? I can confirm that it tastes nothing like the waxy blocks you pick up at the grocery store.

Finally, the last two were the hard cheeses, which don’t melt at all and are added to dishes for the umami effect. We also tasted a couple of blue cheeses.

So, here’s what my plate looked like after the tasting:

I nibbled on everything, but there were some clear winners!

At twelve o’clock, the aged Berkswell cheese was the nuttiest one of all. Apparently that dry, slightly sweet and toasty flavor is right up my alley.

Then at ten o’clock, the Ewephoria gouda barely stood a chance against my taste buds. It’s cooked after the curds are extracted, which gives it a deep caramel flavor. The name does not mislead.

And lastly, over at seven o’clock, there’s the memory of plain old Parmigiano Regiano. We use this one almost every day in class, but it still hasn’t gotten old.

Fortunately, we brought the remains of the cheese tasting along on a picnic the following day. I’d be surprised if any of my classmates had a chance to revisit the Ewephoria after my planned attack.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Say Cheese”

  1. Sharonon 03 Feb 2011 at 3:37 am

    Say Cheese……next time I visit, we should go to the cheese shop in Berkeley and you can share your new knowledge.

  2. Daliaon 02 May 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Love your blog. Where did you go to Culinary School?