Julie's Take on Cheese- Seriously Delicious!
As one of the "amateur" cheese tasters for "Birth of a Cheese," my first reaction to the unmarked package was "Wow, now this is a serious cheese!" I immediately had to open the box and try it, then and there. But, I felt like I was cheating a little bit so I nibbled the very end and put the cheese back in the icebox so I could ponder my first experience. But low and behold, I kept sneaking back- I cut off the very end, let it sit and took a taste. Well, then I HAD to try some of the middle...and then I HAD to make sure that I cut it straight and folded the foil just right. From side to side, I loved the different nuances. The bold flavor near the edges felt completely different than the really creamy middle- but each bite delicious. When I first tried the cheese, I did not have the patience to let it warm to room temp and I thought it was good. But once I let it sit and warm I realized just how great it is; this is a cheese that absolutely should sit and "breathe" and when it does- magic!
I am a big fan of bold tastes served simply. When I am preparing food, I like to have one ingredient be the star with other flavors added in to enhance the main ingredient, not distract from it. In this case, the cheese has a strong, salty, bold introduction that I did not want to overwhelm with a lot of other flavors. I sliced a Granny Smith Apple- sweet/sour/crisp- and laid a small piece of the cheese on it and for me- that was perfect. The rich flavor of the cheese brought out the tartness of the apple and it was a simple pleasure. I also put a bit of the cheese on a simple wheat cracker with a bit of fig jam and some meyer lemon zest and those layers of flavor also helped to showcase the rich flavor of the cheese. Finally, I ate the cheese with some simply roasted pecans and almonds- unsalted and toasted in the oven- which I felt was a great accompaniment to the flavor of the cheese without overbearing the taste with too much salt. (I have to admit, I also gnawed on the rind to get the last delightful bit--completely delicous all by itself).
If I were to pair a wine with this cheese, for me it would always be a deep, dark, haunting cabernet. As I said, this is a serious cheese and it deserves a serious wine. However, I also had some fresh mint lemonade in my icebox- Meyer lemon juice and zest, fresh mint leaves and Pellegrino and I felt that those flavors were a great refresher after each bite. All of these bold flavors serve to enhance each other, not individually overwhelm.
So, thank you for selecting me to be on the panel. As far as a name- I am going to have to ponder that. My first thought was "Fog" or "Nebbia" (Italian for Fog) because having grown up in Marin, I truly believe that the fog has magical powers...and somehow over the years has lent that magic to your cheese.