While at the Provvista open house on Sunday, I met up with Matt Day, owner/monger of Mt Townsend Creamery in Port Townsend, WA. Great guy, great product, great everything. Like most cheesemakers, they are experimenting with different cheeses for future production. We chatted, and somehow I scored a couple of wheels of their current "Cheer Trial" cheese, a small surface-ripened cow's milk round that's washed in local Finn River (hard) cider. He wanted my feedback. So I thought I'd give it here, for all to see. The two wheels were labeled "A5" and "A6," and the A6 was my favorite. After each cider wash, it was allowed to completely open-air dry (the other wasn't) and the texture was firmer and more fudgy. It was less salty than A5, and the cider flavor was slightly stronger--which I liked. I did manage to share them with friends after my own evaluation, and most agreed with me. Honestly, I was surprised: I normally like the softer, oozier cheeses.
USE YOUR TONGUE!
That was the message that was first given by Valerie Henbest, cheese importer (or “Fromage Air”) for Smelly Cheese, in Adelaide, South Australia. Valerie is also a passionate cheese educator and eater, originally from Normandy, France and now an Aussie-Franco mix. With a great accent, I might add, and a life pulse that’s infectious.
Last week, I attended a Bubbles & Cheese Master Class taught by my friend Natalie Fryar, who makes Jansz Australia (Tasmanian sparkling wine) and Valerie Henbest at the Smelly Cheese headquarters in Adelaide. After a tour of the aging room, 20+ of us sat down to bubbles and cheese…but the first order of business was to think about what we were tasting, an exercise that never, ever gets old.
I’m still thinking about the Saint Marcellin from last time.
With that being said, I’m beginning to realize how awesomely I scored with this blog series. I mean, how perfect is it, really? Honest, I’m not an undercover cheese connoisseur and the “discover my inner cheesemonger” blog pitch wasn’t born out of a coy strategy to scamper all over town and taste a bunch of brilliant cheeses—even though that’s essentially what I get to do…I guess all I’m trying to say is that I am very, very lucky.
Anyway, with all of that being said, I’m visited my third location back in Davis, at the Mace Davis Nugget Market with Colby Turner, Nugget’s cheese manager.
The other day, a good friend of mine presented me with a copy of Ratatouille and said I remind him of Remy, the epicurean mouse character in the film. If you can recall part one of this series, you’ll understand how much I admire the little guy and his inherent food genius. My first thought was: I must be doing something right. And then: This is a sign from the cheese deities to keep going. So, it was with straightened shoulders and a teeny bit more self-confidence that I went on to my next location:
Taylor’s Market in Sacramento, with resident cheesemonger Felicia Johnson.
Felicia is a victim of lovely circumstance.
I have a rough, tough life. Aline Baly, whose family owns and operates Chateau Coutet, a 1er Grand Cru Classé Sauternes vineyards in Barsac, Bordeaux, France, dropped into the shop and opened up full bottles of their 1989, 1997, 2002 and 2003 vintages with the hopes of finding good pairings to accompany them. I was joined by cheese & food writer Janet Fletcher (who lives nearby in downtown Napa), Master Sommelier Peter Granoff, and my partner in cheeses & monger extraordinaire at our Oxbow cheese shop, Ricardo Huijon. Needless to say, it wasn't one of our hardest days on the job...
25 December 2010
So, it’s 9:45 on Christmas night, and I can honestly say that I am fed up with eating, at last. Seriously. Camembert, Smoked Gouda, Iberico, Manchego, Quince Paste, crudite, crackers, sourdough rolls, ginger and walnut loaf, Menage a Trois, ham, turkey, cabbage salad, herb salad, tart cranberries, farfalla primavera… and then the desserts. Four cakes, a gingerbread loaf, homemade fudge, snowballs, shortbread, a molasses cookie with cracked black pepper in it, oatmeal cookies, white chocolate covered pretzels… My mom went all-out for days and is now nestled in her bed with the beginning of a winter flu, the poor love. As I am writing this, the last stirring creature, my Dad, has just crept by, fingers gesturing “goodnight,” after having wrapped white bundt cake with peppermint drizzle and cinnamon coffee cakes in plastic to the stylings of the Vince Guaraldi Trio on repeat.