Ah, bliss... This blue cheese never required much tweaking, but the third offering simply can't be improved-- a creamy yet firm ivory base, grainy rather than pasty blue veins, and tasting of the earth itself: rich grasses, the salty tang of an ocean breeze, and strong, sharp spicy notes.
My biggest challenge this time was what to do with this little treasure. I decided to take samples to wine tasting rooms and other appropriate businesses here in Old Town Cottonwood and get pairing suggestions. Kevin Grubb , the sommelier of The Stronghold Tasting Room, sampled the cheese and without hesitation, suggested "Short and Sweet," a sparkling muscat from nearby Page Springs Winery. I must say, the lad knows his stuff.
The final test cheese from Point Reyes arrived at the Hippo Flambe household right before my husband went down with a nasty virus. This means I had unchallenged access to it for several days. When I first examined my wedge I noticed how similar it looked to the first one, although the color was maybe a bit darker. As I stared at the latest sample memories of the first sample made me hungry . The rind has a classic blue cheese funk, while the center paste had more of a clean blue cheese aroma. As I sampled the center I detected a sharper blue cheese bite at the back of the throat, more of a mature blue. The cheese is creamy, balanced, smooth and rich. Originally I thought the first blue cheese sample I received was a good beginners blue because it was not too strong. However with the first version Sebastian, my 9 year old, only sampled the smallest of bites. This time after the first tentative taste he kept asking for another piece.
While my son and my husband enjoy playing with retro Masters of the Universe toys, I enjoy my favorite hobby—cheese tasting!
As soon as I unwrapped the final version of the Mystery Cheese, I was greeted by the familiar clean, milky, nutty smells that I remember from the last installment. The appearance was similar, although this version had less veining and wasn’t quite as shiny.
After a very long work day while host to a cold, driving home in rush-hour traffic and pouring rain, then coming home to a dark and empty house....what would you long for? If you were me, it would be a little white box sitting on your fence post that read "Perishable" and a hard to find winter warmer beer.
My little white box contained the latest and last installment of the "Birth of a Cheese" series by Point Reyes Dairy and Culture Magazine. A lovely "mystery" blue that I was chomping at the bit to pair with the Founders Backwoods Bastard ale I had securely in my possession. The last blue Point Reyes sent me was very lovely, but admittedly not my favorite. This blue was a world apart.
I was pretty excited when I got to taste a cheese in development by Point Reyes a few months ago. When I found out that a new wedge was on its way, I was twice as excited. And then the lovely wedge arrived. Can I admit that we ate a whole lot of this cheese when it first arrived? A whole lot. I won't say half, but it was major carnage. The last cheese was fairly mild and creamy with an ammonia-sharpness near the rind.
When humans want to make an offspring, it’s pretty simple; egg, sperm, nine month incubation. The Accidental Locavore was wondering while tasting the second piece of the new masterpiece from Point Reyes Farmstead, how exactly do you design a cheese? What's the jumping-off point? Does it start with a cow, goat or sheep, or all of the above? Do you just have a flavor profile in your head and work towards making that real? Once you have a starting point, how do you maneuver such fickle ingredients as milk, mold, temperature and time? In cooking, when you have an idea, you assemble ingredients, cook them and see how the results are to your vision… generally not too time consuming. If you screw up, it's time for a quick re-do, or a call for Chinese delivery. With cheesemaking, I imagine there's a lot less instant gratification. So, do you have several versions at various stages of aging?
I have always been madly in love with cheese. I am also quite head over heels in love with the city of Nashville. You can probably imagine my reaction upon finding out that the first annual Southern Artisan Cheese Festivalwill be held in Music City this year. #$@!&*%!!!! I MUST GO!!!!
The South has so much more to offer the culinary world than mayonnaise laden "salads" and sweet tea, and this is the perfect opportunity to come see for yourself. If you happen to be in the area on September 30th, make it a point to come check out what Southern cheese makers are crafting. Dairies such as Sequatchie Cove Creamery, Locust Grove Farm, and Looking Glass Creamery will be there, just to name a few. And what goes better with artisan cheese than honey from Savannah Bee Company, Lusty Monk Mustard, or Olli Salumeria meats? Plenty of specialty food vendors will be there, along with craft beers and wines to wash it all down.
My apologies for this late post. I’ve been on a self-directed tour of Rocky Mountain goat dairies to get new ideas for my goat cheeses and to learn new techniques. In other words, I’ve tasted some excellent cheeses. If you have access to the cheeses from Amaltheia Organic Dairy in Belgrade, Montana, grab some, for goodness’ sake.
My tomme awaited me in the cooler of my son’s little bakery when I returned. Luckily, no one investigated the package or I wouldn’t be writing this at all. The cheese is the color of straw with a buckskin colored rind. Usually when I smell hard cheeses, they remind me of a cheese cave or cellar—dampish and sharp. The tomme, when held up close, fell into that category but when I held it farther away, it smelled mushroomy, like a forest floor (in Montana). When I tasted the cheese with the rind, I also definitely detected the sea.
I was shopping to prepare for hurricane Irene. I bought staple items like bacon and butter, as well as flour and other ingredients to make bread. The Point Reyes Tomme that arrived that day fit perfectly into my hurricane preparations. The letter that was enclosed said to savor it with a fine scotch or Tawny Port which suddenly made squirreling it all away impossible. So we set it out to warm up and poured the port.
It was Christmas in August when I received my Tomme from Point Reyes Farmstead in the mail. It is a hard cheese, not usually one of my favorite kinds of cheese but when paired with the suggested scotch (not a scotch fan, but the cheese made it very tasty, indeed), we found doing the research a real pleasure. My wing man (also known as the husband) and I had no trouble enjoying our task. Although this is a much milder cheese than the blues, the Tomme has its place in gastronomy. We liked the subtle after-bite when savored with a red wine. The crystals in the cheese definitely gave this cheese an extra zing. It was my favorite part of the cheese.