Cheese Heads

NOM

You guessed it…..

It’s a post about cheese: everyone’s favorite dairy product.

Tonight I had the privilege of sampling a delicious smoked cheddar (everything is better when smoked) that blew my mind.  It was accompanied by some plump, firm red grapes that blended nicely with the salty, smoked flavor of the CHEDD quite nicely.  Think of it as a deconstructed wine and cheese kind of thing.

As a foodie, I appreciate the subtle notes of difference that each individual cheese brings to the table.  The varieties are endless; smoked, unsmoked, hard, soft, raw-milk, paterized, aged, fresh… I could go on for days.  Don’t even get me started on the regional (country, climate, etc) variations that are out there. We’d be here all night.  Let me give you the rundown of a few of my favorite cheeses: (in no particular order)

1.  Manchego (raw-milk variety El Trigal is one I recommend): an aged Sheep’s milk cheese from Spain that is sharp but not too pungent.  Grassy notes let you know you’re eating a good quality wedge, and it should taste a little sheep-ish.

2. Robusto : Specially made for Whole Foods, this specialty cheese is like the love-child of parmesan and a quality cheddar. Great on pasta or meat dishes that need a punch of flavor or salty finish.

3. Sottocenerre (with Truffles): A fine Italian cheese that is rinded and then rubbed in soot before being aged/finished.  Semi-soft but not yet spreadable this buttery delight will be the highlight of your cheese platter. Not for desert though, it is delightfully salty… oh and did I mention that IT HAS FUCKING TRUFFLES IN IT. Pungent and rich, a little goes a long way (but I bet you can’t eat just a little)

4. Campo de Montalban:  For you Manchego lovers, consider this: a Spanish cheese made in the tradition of the finest Manchego but made from a three milk blend (sheep, goat, cow).  Tastes like a classic ‘chego with a sharp goaty bite at the finish.  Outstanding on a bit of crusty bread.

5. Midnight Moon: The American cheesemakers at Cypress Grove Chevre are respnsible for this wonderful rinded goat cheese.  I’ll let their words do the honors of description this time:

“Aged six months or more, this pale, ivory cheese is firm, dense and smooth with the slight graininess of a long-aged cheese. The flavor is nutty and brown-buttery, with prominent caramel notes. The wheel is finished in a beautiful black wax. Made in Europe exclusively for Cypress Grove Chevre.”

The list goes on, but these are on my mind and palatte this week! Check out the cheese department at Whole Foods or stop by the farmers market this week for some great raw-milk local dairy.

What a friend we have in cheeses.

HungryJ