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Monday, August 07, 2006

Secrets of the Cheesemongers

I recently received a bunch of English farmhouse cheeses from my cheese-friend Jayne Rockmill. They're all from The Fine Cheese Company, and I'm trying them so I can write some articles on English cheese.

I offer you a very special gift: a glimpse into the secret world of the cheesemonger. Specifically, the cheese taster. As I tried these cheeses, I took detailed tasting notes, and I'm going to print them pretty much verbatim. I hope you enjoy them, but keep yer dirty paws off! Don't crib my notes for your own cheese descriptions. If you want to be taken seriously in this world, you must actually taste the cheese on your own and write your own damn descriptions.

I'm not including information here on the cheesemaker, animal, rennet, etc. Only my tasting notes.

Sharpham Rustic
even a small slice gives off an intense aroma of cave: damp, musty, clean earth.
like my old dirt-floor cellar.
shaped like a cross between a spaceship and a big, puffy apple pie. covered in dusty white mold. the paste is the color of French butter.
moist & flaky.
earthy, milky, lactic tang (like young goat cheese), nutty, lightly astringent, not strong, rustic flavor and appearance.
texture is mouth melting, like cold butter, but a little more chewy.
rather refreshing - good in summer, perhaps with berries.
herbal notes hide out in the background.

Monk's House
natural rind, velvety stone-colored rind with white moulding.
wheel has a curved top edge.
mostly solid paste with some crumbling and fissures.
aroma is earthy.
taste: buttery, but salted butter. hint of toasted nuts and caramel, finish of brown butter.
faint metallic notes on the finish.
nicely balanced.

Oak-Smoked Cerwyn
springy, semi-soft paste, solid.
mold-covered natural rind.
smells of woodsmoke - obviously!
earthy, woodsy, tangy, creamy, melting mouthfeel, Autumn dried leaves.
the tangy taste evaporates rapidly as the paste melts in my mouth.
the smokiness isn't an overwhelming distraction.
rather, it ties nicely to the melting-in-the-mouth experience.
clean finish.
pleasant table cheese.
far nicer & more rustic than many smoked cheeses out there.

That's all for now.

Yours in Cheese,


wolcheski said...

It's like cheese poetry! I like it.

Wendy M. Levy said...

well shucks, thanks!
nice to hear from someone who knew me in my cheesemonger youth back at the old co-op.

yours in cheese,