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A little less than a happy high
Better than most sex
The gentleman running the event is a rep from South End Formaggio, and wow did he put on a good show. It was a fantastic assortment of textures and flavors, and though I think we were pushing limits with eleven different cheeses, I was very pleased. High points of the evening were the Chevrot and the Valle d'Aspe, both of which were better than most sex (and yes, I dare you to prove me wrong...) The oddest cheese of the lineup was the Garrotxa, which was very tasty, but had a rind that smelled a little of salt cod and turned a lot of people off. In the afters, we were offered a number of things that have traditionally accompanied cheeses, such as an aged balsamic vinegar (syrup thick and tasting almost of port) and green apples pickled with mustard seeds (yeah, it sounds strange, but it was soooo good.)

Best of all, I learned that one can make a career as a Cheese Hunter. Cheese Hunter. You get paid to wander through the backroads of Europe seeking out rare cheeses. Damn.

For those who are dying to know, here's the full lineup:
Selles Sur Cher: artisinal goat's milk, Berry, France
Chevrot: artisinal goat's milk, Poitou, France
Pierre Robert: triple crème cow's milk, Ile de France
Comte: alpine cow's milk, Franche-Comte, France
Valle d'Aspe fermier sheep's milk, Aquitaine, France
Garrotxa: aged goat's milk, Catalonia, Spain
VT Dandy: sheep's milk, Townshend, Vermont
Pecorino Caggiano: sheep's milk, Apulia, Italy
Mahon: cow's milk, Menorca, Spain
Bayley Hazen: cow's milk blue, Greensboro, Vermont
Parmigianno Reggiano: organic cow's milk, Reggiano, Italy
18 comments or Leave a comment
tigermilkdrunk From: tigermilkdrunk Date: April 12th, 2004 07:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Insofar as these were artisanal cheeses being sold in the US, were any of them raw or were all pasteurized? If the former, or in fact regardless, is there a decent place for raw milk imported cheeses in the Boston area?

I so wanna be a cheese hunter, man.
komos From: komos Date: April 12th, 2004 08:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Most of the cheese served tonight was raw milk cheese. The trouble with them is that the FDA has established silly regs related to raw milk cheese even though the only documented deaths from cheese have been the result of pasteurized products. Another big problem right now is that there's an unspoken embargo against French products right now that's being enforced by seemingly random goods getting held up in customs indefinitely.

That said, this place and their sister store in Cambridge both have raw milk cheeses aplenty, as does The Wine and Cheese Cask in Somerville.

Best. Job. Ever.
quislibet From: quislibet Date: April 13th, 2004 12:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, it's vexing that raw-milk cheeses have to be aged (60?) days, by which time some cheeses are past their prime...

J. and I had garrotxa once, if I'm remembering correctly, and we must have had a bad batch, as it was vile beyond reckoning. Another time we tentatively tried it and liked it well enough. Huh.

Come September I will be surrounded by cheese. Livarot, camembert, and pont-l'eveque especially. May even be living IN Livarot (the town, not in a house made of the cheese). I should start an illegal export business.
komos From: komos Date: April 15th, 2004 05:20 am (UTC) (Link)
From what I understand, you do occasionally get a bad wheel of cheese, though why the folks who sold it to you didn't catch that I have no idea.

Color me jealous, even if you're not living in a house made of cheese. I have to ask, though, do you have even a shred of interest in the idea? How 'bout if it turned legal?
quislibet From: quislibet Date: April 15th, 2004 05:39 am (UTC) (Link)
I can't imagine that I have any business sense, so I'm not sure how it would work out.

I'd also need to learn a heckuva lot more about cheese than I currently know. I'm sure I'll get to know the three AOC cheeses of the Auge region pretty well, but beyond that...
komos From: komos Date: April 15th, 2004 01:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
The same goes for me, on both counts, but I've still got these crazy ideas in my head. I need to have conversations with a couple of friends and see what I can brainstorm.
prosicated From: prosicated Date: April 12th, 2004 07:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
I will fight you for the position of cheese hunter.
Or perhaps we could be a team? Bartering our crafts for tasty cheese and vinegar?
komos From: komos Date: April 12th, 2004 08:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm all about colaborative efforts, especially if it means leading a bohemian lifestyle spent in pursuit of deliciousness.

Le sigh.
guitarcries From: guitarcries Date: April 12th, 2004 07:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
You reminded me of the food tasting my Italian food cultures professor set up while I was living in Florence. He took us to the Mercato Centrale where we got to taste a dozen different kinds of cheese, along with various other delicacies like olives, dried fruit, wine, and on and on. It was like some kind of surreal dream, walking around this perfumed market as smiling Italians handed us sample after sample after sample. God I miss that food.
komos From: komos Date: April 12th, 2004 08:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm still jealous of your experiences there. I'm just making do with the little bits and pieces I can find here. Eventually, I will flee to the Pyrenees and raise goats and throw pots until the gnomes come take me.
guitarcries From: guitarcries Date: April 13th, 2004 10:08 am (UTC) (Link)
You should have been born during biblical times, when you could've spent all of your days eating cheese, raising animals, and making pots. :)
transcribe From: transcribe Date: April 12th, 2004 08:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
which did you like best? and 'all of them' isn't a good answer.
komos From: komos Date: April 12th, 2004 08:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
I would probably say the Chevrot. It was so delicate, but sporting enough flavor that it just sort of danced in my mouth. I got an endorphin rush off the first taste, and it just kept getting better.

That said, I very much want to go back to the Parmagiano Reggiano at some point when I'm not overwhelmed with ten other cheeses and a few glasses of wine.

Tonight was incredibly decadent.
haloedone From: haloedone Date: April 13th, 2004 01:06 am (UTC) (Link)
While I have no idea how those cheeses taste, I'm drooling. Mmmmm. Cheeeeeeeeeese.
komos From: komos Date: April 13th, 2004 06:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Is there a particular one that caught your eye? Alternatively, is there a particular type of cheese that you normally love? I can describe my impressions for most of them.
haloedone From: haloedone Date: April 13th, 2004 07:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, to tell you the truth, the goat milk ones. I had some goat cheese for the first time in (if you will believe it) Nepal. We used to own/raise goats, but I avoided drinking their milk (Who WANTS the closest milk to human milk? I wanted the closest thing to COW milk! ;) ). I don't think we ever made cheese of it.

Anyway, when I had the goat cheese, I thought it was fabulous. A little tangy (in a very good way). I love cheese to begin with, and I can only imagine the wonderful choices you had.

I am envious.

Which was your favorite? What was it like?
komos From: komos Date: April 13th, 2004 08:29 am (UTC) (Link)

The goat cheese lineup

Selles Sur Cher: very smooth and creamy with a sweet, nutty flavor that finished with a hint of grape (?) Probably the closest to other goat cheeses I've had, but without the dry and crumbly of the supermarket offerings. It was perfect with the crusty bread we had.

Chevrot: easily my favorite of the evening, and for that I'm going to have a hard time describing it. This had a bit of age, which had mellowed the goat's milk tang just enough to allow the more subtle flavors of the cream to shine through. I will buy some of this very soon.

Garrotxa: I was one of the few people that liked this aged offering, but I'll confess that I couldn't eat it in large quantities. It smelled almost of salt cod, and had a fairly pungent flavor to accompany it. Salty, a bit of citrus, and a whole lot of complexity.
guitarcries From: guitarcries Date: April 13th, 2004 10:11 am (UTC) (Link)
I usually like sheep and goat milk cheeses as they tend to be softer. The paneer used in Indian cooking is usually goat cheese, I think, and it tends to be very soft and mild. Among all of the cheeses I tasted while in Italy I liked the sheep's milk ones the best usually.

One thing I never realized is that true mozzarella cheese, known as Mozarella di Bufala, is actually made from buffalo milk cheese. I thought that Bufala was just the name of some Italian town. So apparently buffalo make a damn good cheese too.
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