Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My Weekend of Cheese

I had the pleasure of tasting five wonderful cheeses over the weekend. I served the first two with a bright arugula salad and crusty bread. The latter three were part of a cheese flight at enology featuring cow's milk cheeses from Wisconsin.  I am in heaven!

Image from artisanal cheese

Monte Enebro, pasteurized goat, Spain

Made by Rafael Baez in Avila, Spain
The cheese's grayish-brown rind looks like the bark of a tree. It is white and dense in the center and becomes gray and creamier towards the rind as the cheese ages. The flavors linger and are complex. It is herbaceous, barnyardy, tangy. It is simply wonderful. I've never tasted anything like it.

This is an assertive cheese that I find difficult to pair with wine, although Janet Fletcher of SF Gate recommends the 2001 Au Bon Climat Pinot Gris/Pinot Blanc, Santa Barbara County.


Image from iGourmet

Purple Haze, pastuerized goat, US

Made by Cypress Grove Chevre in CA
This light and fluffy fresh goat cheese is tangy with bursts of lemon, typical of chevre from Cyrpress Grove. The round disk of chevre is dusted with lavender and fennel pollen, which adds a delightful sweetness and brightness to the refreshing, clean flavors of the chevre. It is rich, floral, and tastes like spring. I want more!

On a different note, it was difficult to get the disk out of the plastic packaging without ruining the shape. I ended up cutting all the way around the disk and removing the cheese from top.

Generally I love to pair grassy Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, NZ with fresh chevre. Given the sweetness from the fennel, I think a bright, crisp albariño would pair well with the cheese.

Image from artisanal cheese


Pleasant Ridge Reserve, unpasteurized cow, US
Made by Uplands Cheese Company in Dodgeville, WI
Also made in the Alpine style, this yellowish, firm cheese is aged 12-18 months. It is rich, creamy, and smooth. Grassy and floral notes lead to a buttery, nutty finish. Reminds me of Beaufort. Elegant and perfect.

Pleasant Ridge Reserve has earned its place on my cheeseboard for some time now. It pairs well with soft, fruit-forward reds like Syrah-Grenache blends, Pinot Noir, or white wines like German Riesling Spätlese or Muscat. The whites are sweet but not overly sweet and pair surprisingly well with the cheese.

Image from cow girl creamery

Roth's Private Reserve, unpasteurized cow, US
Made by Roth Käse in Monroe, WI
An Alpine style cheese, this cheese is aged a minimum of 10 months. The firm cheese is ivory with a smooth, creamy texture. It is fruity, with flavors of roasted nuts, and barnyardy. Just a hint of sweetness. Unexpectedly delightful.

The fruit in a Beaujolais cru (Gamay) or Pinot Noir would pair nicely with the nutty cheese.



Little Darling, pasteurized cow, US
Made by Brunkow Cheese in Darlington, WI
A golden yellow cheese that is similar to parmesan, but is not as salty. It was hard and cracking, with a crumbly texture, but remained buttery, not dry. The first bite started with intense nuttiness and earthiness and finished with slightly sweet grass. It is distinctive and versatile.

Little Darling can stand up to a Bordeaux, California Cabernet Sauvignon, or a big Italian red. The bigger wine the better with this cheese.

1 comment:

  1. Purple haze is one of my favorite goats too... and never really thought about how annoying that wrapping is until now. Now I'll never be able to look at it the same way again.

    ReplyDelete

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