Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cheese School 101: Part Duex

Come here you little stinker and get in my belly!

So, you love cheese. You know how to make the perfect cheese plate. You know the proper way to serve, store and eat your cheese. You even know about knives.

So, now what?

Well, what about those change-your-life strong cheeses?

That's right how about a cheese plate for brave souls that will blow your mind (and stink up your living room).

Can you handle it?

Overall rule of thumb: Typically it's alright to eat the rind of any cheese, as long as you can handle the stronger flavor (exceptions, of course, are cloth-bound or wax rinds). I personally just don't like the texture. But then again, I have also eaten wax rinds on error so I think I'm just extra careful these days.

Monte Enebro. This quirky Spanish goat cheese is covered in ash and mold. The flavor is creamy and salty on the inside, and then gets spicy, damp and acidic as you get toward the rind. Its overall funny appearance is said to resemble the leg of a mule!

Quadrello di Bufala. This gamey cheese is made in northern Italy with water buffalo milk. Two SUPER cool brothers took over their father's farm (their dad had started the farm in 1968 and tragically died the same year). They wanted to do more than just make mozzarella, so they created a bunch of different funky cheeses. This cheese is very barnyard-y; you can taste wet straw, a bit of stink and sweetness at the same time. Tangy, meaty, very rich. Washed in brine.

Epoisses. There are two ways to serve this runny cow's milk cheese--cut it like a pizza or cut the top off and scoop it out with a spoon (or dip your bread in!). After four weeks of aging in France, this cheese is rinsed in French brandy--and once it crosses the pond, Murray's washes it in brandy again in their cheese cave to kick up the intensity. Very strong, gooey, stinky. (In fact, it's so stinky that there's a rumor that it's banned from French public transportation.) Like a salty pudding. Fun fact: Napoleon Bonaparte was a huge fan!

Pecorino Foglie de Noce. This raw sheep's milk cheese is buried in barrels full of walnut leaves while it ages. You can taste the walnut flavor in the cheese, and the rind is grassy and herbaceous. Milky, nutty, sharp and very salty. Great with fresh grapes, since it's so salty that you need that refreshing palate cleanser. (Fun fact: Did you know that the word "pecorino" doesn't actually connote a specific cheese, but simply refers to any Italian sheep's milk cheese?)

Caveman Blue. This blue cheese is made with raw cow's milk in Oregon. (The Pacific Northwest is a big blue hotspot.) Really fruity and spicy, the flavor is right up front. Has nuances of beef and bacon and grass. Not for people who are timid about blue cheeses! The name "Caveman Blue" is a nod to the nearby town of Grant's Pass, which is overlooked by a huge hulking statue of a caveman.

So, recently my boyfriend went through a Blue Cheese binge. It wasn't until a few years ago that I actually wanted to put it in my mouth, and then... with JP's insatiable nature I found myself putting more blue in my mouth then I would usually. I don't mind it but I'm picky. I would rather have the my Cambozola then my Caveman Blue. But when I go for cheese with the girls (remember, I said my dream would be to live off of cheese and dessert plates- i eat a lot of both) I always end up getting banished for ordering the stinkiest cheese in the place. I don't mean to, it just kind of happens. Pungent, earthy and bitter. Why does it taste so good at times?
What do you think, my lovelies? Do you dare? How bold are you when it comes to cheeses?

Inspired and pictures by Cup of Jo

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