Hooray for the Sea Monster!
I am so excited to be a part of the Birth of a Cheese tasting panel. Thanks to Culture and Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese for making this a possibility. I’m by no means a cheese expert, but I’m working on it. In January 2010, I made a New Year’s Resolution that I actually kept—to eat more cheese. For several months, I visited some of the best cheese shops in Salt Lake City, Utah, shared my finds with a supportive but unexcited husband, and tried to chronicle these experiences on my blog. That July, we moved from the suburbs to our very small (population 500 or so) hometown, far from the cheese shops but close to our family. I work at a small college and hang out with my husband and my three-year-old son whenever I can. While my son is not a cheese aficionado yet, I’m hoping he’ll transition from string cheese to St. Andre in no time.
I could not wait for Thursday to come so I could get my cheese shipment. While I was gone, I left my husband with two instructions: (1) constantly monitor the front door for any signs of a special delivery, and (2) have the marching band and balloons ready when the FedEx van arrived. He didn’t deliver on the second request, but he did wait patiently for the box. When it came, he put it in the fridge, unopened, so that we could experience the magic together. As soon I as got home, my husband, my son, and I hacked away at the packing tape to get the container open. Once I unwrapped the foil, I couldn’t believe how lovely the cheese was. The blue veining and the slightly marbled rind were very visually appealing, and I couldn’t wait to eat it.
The cheese had a rich, milky, nutty smell, like a very clean dairy—all of the milky aromas, but none of the unpleasantness. The flavor was very surprising; I was expecting a sharp kick, like I would get when tasting a standard blue cheese from the grocery store. However, what I got instead was this complex flavor that was both strong and mellow at the same time. I would describe it as nutty, buttery, salty, earthy, rich, and smooth. The first time I tasted it, the texture was a little too grainy. However, on the second tasting, it seemed to become more creamy and smooth, with crystals throughout the cheese. The rind itself had a very earthy flavor. I felt like it tasted like a vegetable, like broccoli, cauliflower, or Brussels sprouts.
As far as possible food combinations, I tried pairing it with many things I had in the kitchen, and my favorites were pasta, blueberries, and a dark chocolate/hazelnut candy. I think I liked the chocolate the best, because the sweetness and the crunchiness of the nuts went very well with the cheese. As far as name suggestions go, I’m still working on that. However, as soon as I unwrapped the cheese and placed it on the counter, my son started calling it the Sea Monster, so maybe that could be its working title!