Point Reyes Pointing the Way to Cheese Nirvana - Alissa Taaca-Warren
My love affair with cheese started at a young age with the more processed cheeses like Velveeta and Kraft Singles. Later in life I graduated to elevated levels of cheese nirvana and now include Camboloza, Broschetto Al Tartufo, and Pierre Robert among my favorites. I have champagne taste on a beer budget (or a reasonable wine budget) and would rather spend my last pennies on a small wedge of fine cheese than on a big meal. I am a novice cheese-taster, but definitely a pro at eating it; so imagine my surprise and excitement when I was chosen to be on the Point Reyes Birth of a Cheese Tasting Panel.
My cheese arrived via Fed-Ex. Like a kid at Christmas, I tore through the packaging to uncover an attractive-looking wedge of blue cheese. The bright, ivory color was cut with beautiful blue veins, and a golden-crusted edge. I picked up the wedge and took a huge whiff…then another. I was shocked to discover that though this cheese was bold in appearance it had a very gentle aroma. It didn’t have the overwhelmingly pungent stink as many blue cheeses have rather harboring a light earthy smell with the faint scent of hay. My mouth watered and I couldn’t stand it any longer.... I had to start tasting immediately!!
I took my initial taste from the center of the wedge. It was buttery, and creamy with a nutty flavor that melted in my mouth. It wasn’t flaky or crumbly. It was delectable! I had to restrain from gobbling it up; reminding myself that with each bite I needed to take my time and really TASTE it. The closer I ventured to the rind the nuttier the flavor, with the full intensity at the rind. Regardless of where I sampled, all parts were equal in deliciousness.
This is a cheese I would definitely keep stocked in my refrigerator.
Last night, while sharing wine with friends I stumbled upon a pleasant surprise. This cheese created a melodious pairing with a 2008 St. Amant Barbera, greatly enhancing the wine’s cherry and berry flavors. I’ll pass on cake…just bring me a bottle of Barbera and this blue cheese please! This discovery has peaked my interest; so in the next day or two I will experiment pairing this cheese with several other wines. Look out for my next blog on the results!