The Hurricane Care Package Courtesy of Point Reyes
This past week I found myself making list after list with anything and everything that one might need in preparation for a hurricane. This is not something that my fellow New Yorkers and I have to typically think about. Ordinarily, I would dismiss the hype from the media, make a couple of sarcastic remarks about buying a month’s supply of bread and milk, and then go along my merry way. Given that we felt the aftershocks of an earthquake on the east coast just a few days before, and the storm of the century projections that Irene was garnering from far and wide, I decided that I probably shouldn’t tempt fate.
My hurricane list included all of the recommended essentials: water, batteries, scotch, beer, cheese… like I said. The essentials… Anything else is superfluous… The benefits of participating on the Point Reyes tasting panel continues to pay dividends as a package arrived on my doorstep the day before the storm hit. Inside I found a letter providing an update on the progress of the yet-to-be-named Blue. In the interim, we were sent a wedge of “Tomme” that is yet to be released. What timing! I picked up my pen and crossed cheese off the list.
From the letter included in the cheese care package, Tomme is made in the Alpine-style and aged for approximately 16 months. The aroma coming off of this is incredible. Classic roasted almonds with a hint of pineapple on the end.
I love the texture. The paste has great density, yet it maintains a wonderful creaminess as it dissolves on the tongue. The amino-acid crystallization throughout is unlike anything I have seen or tasted before. There is more substance and structure to these crystals than your basic aged cheddar or Gouda. They don't immediately dissolve, but actually "pop" as you bite into them and then chew.
Perfect balance of salt and grass on the front coupled with a long finish reminiscent of pineapple drizzled with butterscotch. I could still taste this several minutes later while I wrote my notes. Very distinct and assertive.
I took the pairing advice in the letter and tried it with a single malt scotch as well as some Templeton Rye. Whiskey is not what I automatically gravitate towards when pairing cheese, but this was a great suggestion. They both brought out the butterscotch notes right to the forefront. Great balance.
The rain was pelting my window, the wind howled outside in a fury, but the cheese sent from Point Reyes made everything just right. This cheese is really something special.I have no idea when it is being released, but everyone should be on the lookout for it at your local shop. Either that or bribe Culture to try and get on the next Tasting Panel…
Note: Thankfully, Irene spared us from the full brunt of her wrath. I am reminded of this every day as the pictures and stories from points north continue to come in. My thoughts are with those communities as they clean up, rebuild, and move forward.