Thursday, August 12, 2010

Day One Eighty Three - Aging your cheese

Last night's cheese plate consisted of three distinct cheeses -- of course one of my beloved Loire Valley goats, tonight's choice was Saint Marcellin; then there was a Corsican bloomy rind Brebis cheese; and lastly a Tomme de Montagne. The Saint Marcellin was young, creamy, lactic and super fantastic. Interestingly enough, it sure found it's match in the olive oil fennel seed taralli (small round crunchy Italian crackers) -- it was the perfect combo of creaminess, crunchiness, herbaceousness, brightness with a grassy citrus finish. I wonder what would happen if you dusted a Saint Marcellin in fennel seeds, would it impart the same multi-layered flavor? Maybe it's worth a shot one of these days... However, the crunch of the taralli was so perfect, I'm not sure the fennel seed alone would do it.

The Tomme de Montagne was a simple young semi-firm cheese, full of subtle nuances, I could see this is as a fantastic cheese for grilled cheeses or baked pasta dishes. Although delish on it's own, it did not knock your socks off in terms of developed and unique tastes, but it was somewhat of a nice "pause" on the cheese plate. Slightly buttery with a farmyard barnyardy sort of feel, this cheese was a nicely done simple table cheese.

Lastly was our bloomy Corsican Brebis or sheep's milk cheese. I'd wanted to try this to get me psyched up for next week's trip to Corsica and last night, it fell quite flat, however today was a completely different story! Last night, as aptly stated by one of my dining companions, this cheese was a one note "Brebis Brie" -- nothing exciting, just a stereotypical Brie, the only difference was that it was made with sheep's milk. However once this cheese spent an overnight here at Residence El Nil, it was as though it had blossomed and transformed, it grew into itself almost -- it had fantastic nuaces that simply were not present last night -- a sweet creamy herbal and mushroomy paste delivered itself forth on our tongues today. Where was that last night I wonder?

This cheese was an excellent example of the fact that sometimes cheeses haven't finished their aging processes upon purchase, sometimes your fridge can become cheese cave part deux. Yet sometimes, cheeses like this one just need some time to breathe, they need not to be wrapped too tightly and need to have the appropriate amount of space to occupy their proper presence. Ok, before I get all into this whole cheese needs to breathe as well tangent, let me just recommend if you buy a cheese that you feel isn't living up to it's full potential, unwrap it, place it loosely wrapped in either cheese or wax paper and let it sit in the fridge for at least twenty four if not forty eight hours, you will be surprised at the results you will receive.

Check back tomorrow for an extra special Cote d'Azur grilled cheese Friday.

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