Or, 5 Delicious Cheeses for Non-Snobby Cheese-o-Philes
Put a goat on a shoe! Put a cheese in a wormhole in space!
What do I know about cheeses? Not much.
I just hang out trying to get free samples too much, then sometimes I buy things. So with that disclaimer, I present this guide to some of my favorite adventurous cheeses.
From less to more adventurous, they are:
LESS ADVENTUROUS (BUT AMAZING)
1) Brillat Savarin – Brillat Savarin is a triple cream Brie, which means, much like Dr. Who’s Tardis, somehow, impossibly, three times as much cream has been packed into the cheese as is possible according to the laws of physics, resulting in a spacetime event in which part of the cream must “fold” into an unseen dimension.
Alas, no, the Webs told me “triple cream” is just a cheese that “contains more than 75% butterfat in its dry parts, which means roughly 40% fat overall,” meaning you die instantly. No big woop.
“This triple-cream Brie is one of the world’s richest cheeses. It has a light downy white rind and cuts like butter. Milky aroma with light lemon sour tones.”
Like some kind of crazy weird cream that’s somehow better than ice cream AND butter. BE SURE it comes completely to room temperate though (1-3 hours), because otherwise it just tastes like nothing, and you sort of blew it, dude.
2) 3 or 5 Year Aged Gouda – Your cheese fell behind the bedside table, where it sat during the entire 4 years you were in college, and then that 1 horrible year you lived with your bf / gf (until you realized that one of you was neater than the other, and one of you wanted to teach in Japan).
In any other scenario, when you rolled away your bed, you would scream and frantically dial 911 to have someone come remove the food item, but this time you realize it looks much better and delcioius-er than before. This could only happen in the world of cheese.
“Deep caramel in color, crunchy, flaky, and meltingly smooth on the tongue, a true cow’s milk Dutch Gouda bursts with flavor. The hint of butterscotch at the finish is a signature of this Dutch treat.”
Damn it, that sort of nailed it. This is like the nuttiest thing in the world, with carmelized areas that taste like little bits of candy. Crazy. Note: I recommend sampling the 3- and 5-year versions when you’re in the cheese store, and seeing which you like better. Keep asking for samples until they start slanting their eyes, then look offended and split.
3) Midnight Moon by Cypress Grove – Insane in the Membrane! Wait that’s Cypress Hill, whatever. Lame joke.
My new favorite cheese. Man, I can taste it just looking at it.
The crazy thing about Midnight Moon is that it’s not some traditional French cheese with a storied pedigree stretching across 16 generations of families, toiling away meaningless lives out of a grim sense of duty in the Auvergne — though that would be pretty sweet.
No, it’s just made by some kind of cheese geniuses in California. As much as I appreciate some people being “over” Cypress Grove, fortunately I don’t have the luxury of that kind of cheese sophistication, so I am still gleefully excited by it.
“Aged six months or more, this pale, ivory cheese is firm, dense and smooth with the slight graininess of a long-aged cheese. The flavor is nutty and brown-buttery, with prominent caramel notes. The wheel is finished in a beautiful black wax. Made in Europe exclusively for Cypress Grove Chevre.”
Goat-y, nutty, sweet, creamy: this cheese just has it all.
Midnight Moon is like that shirt that you actually wear because you’re more comfortable in it than your “best” shirt. In other words, there’s your “official” best shirt, and there’s your actual best shirt. This is that actual best shirt.
4) Roquefort Papillon – If you don’t like blue cheese, you should probably walk softly around this cheese, in case it notices you. If you do like blue cheeses, you’ll find the blues you once liked were but ridiculous toy cars, feeble facsimiles, and now you’re driving one of those big cars with the stickers all over them, hopefully in Le Mans.
Best in small doses, or tossed in a salad (as I was introduced to it in France), it’s the most “extreme” of blues, a crazy high-speed downhill snowboard into penicillium roqueforti (stuff that makes blue cheese).
“Produced using the unpasteurized milk of Lacaune sheep which graze on the thin, yet rich grass of the Causses in the heart of France. The curds of this cheese are blended with penicillin molds harvested from rye bread baked specially for this purpose. The wheels are aged on oak planks in natural limestone caves for an average of 150 days. The result is a tangy, complex blue cheese with balanced saltiness and an arresting assertiveness.”
Like a blue cheese bomb. Like eating perfume. Sort of scary, but you like it. A little salty, so try before you buy.
This is my new favorite “wow” cheese. And apparently it’s another creation of some U.S. cheese geniuses, this time Vermont Creamery, who I would already know about if I wasn’t so darned ignorant.
I think it’s worth quoting the entire Fancy Description, because it’s quite interesting:
“This hand ladled, ash-ripened cheese was first introduced in 2001. Bonne Bouche literally means good mouthful and is a French term used to describe a tasty morsel.
“Bonne Bouche is made from pasteurized milk and set in tubs for lactic coagulation for 24 hours. The following day, the cheese curd is carefully hand ladled into moulds and drained overnight. The cheeses are then unmoulded, ashed and moved into the drying room and then into the aging room where the controlled environment is cool and humid. The entire process takes seven to ten days before the cheeses are packaged in their individual micro-caves.
“Bonne Bouche can be enjoyed fresh or aged up to 45 days. As a young cheese, the rind has a distinct geotrichium flavor. The texture is mild yet still acidic like a fresh chèvre. As the cheese ages, it becomes softer and the rind becomes more dry and piquant.”
(Bonne Bouche picture: Martina Hemm, The Foreign Kitchen)
Somehow you ended up with a pet goat, and it slept all night long on your shoe. Which you’d worn earlier in the day, when you’d been walking over a field that burned the night before, having your “poet’s meditation.” Oh, and the goat also got into something tangy, chalky and the goat is a wee bit sour (because it’s a goat, bless it).
Then, having ripped up the pages of your latest epic poem in a frustrated poet’s rage, you decided — to express your angst at the vagaries and imbalances of this mortal frame — to try and eat the shoe, even knowing full well the implications.
But inexplicably, it was amazingly delicious, and your faith in the inevitable universal good was restored.
Well, some of those taste points sort of danced through the dim theatre of my mind as I sampled Bonne Bouche at Say Cheese, but I think it had achieved proper temperature and was nicely ripened.
The one I brought home is much tamer, which I’m bummed about, so I’m going to wait a month and then leave it out overnight.
Yes, I will even buy a goat, if necessary.
Main picture: Martina Hemm, The Foreign Kitchen