When I started this blog I intended to eschew all cheeses with stuff in them. Cheddar-with chives, Gouda-with seeds, it all seemed a little artificial to me. I mean, if the cheese isn’t good enough on its own, will throwing some onion, or cranberry or basil really smarten it up? As well, is it fair to compare a cheese with stuff in it to a stand alone cheese? Is the add-on actually giving the cheese un unfair advantage? These are the sorts of thoughts I wrestle with in order to bring you-oh gentle reader-the very best cheese blog possible.
But then, the other day I ate some of this cheese quite by accident-this Boschetto al Tartufo, and it was just divine. Tartufo means truffle so really, you can see how outrageously biased and unfair the rest of this essay if going to be. If you add truffle to anything it will become 25% better. I’m sure that’s been scientifically proven. There’s something about those little mushrooms that drives us humans, and well, pigs as well-insane. The smell and the flavour hints at mystery, and adventure, and love, and all things good. To add this to any cheese, even dare I say a “cheese product” would make that substance cross over to a whole other level of taste. Totally unfair. However, what’s done is done. I must sample this cheese, and I must write about it. Forgive me, I know that I sin, but I am mortal. Speaking of sin, I have just realized that this is only my second Italian cheese, and that’s just unacceptable. I pledge henceforth to venture into Italy mouth first after a quick detour to Ireland tomorrow.
Back to truffles, truffles are the fruiting body of a mushroom, actually found underground, usually around the roots of trees. They don’t grow in North America and are mostly found in France and Italy, which is just mean. They are outrageously expensive, yet so pungent in flavour that you only need the smallest amount to make an impact. If you haven’t ever eaten truffle, go out and find some now. You can purchase little containers of truffle infused oil at many stores which is generally pretty affordable and flavourful. Drizzle it over everything that’s a savoury and suddenly- all will praise your cooking. It’s my secret weapon. Brillat Savarin, the French gastronome declared truffles the “the diamond of the kitchen,” and he is correct.
I’m going on about truffles here, because as it turns out, Boschetto al Tartufo is a tough cheese to find out much about on the internet. All I can discern is that it is a pasteurized cheese made from a mixture of sheep and cow milk and slivers of white truffle, which are actually black in colour-strangely. This cheese is aged for a maximum of 2 months, and actually belongs to a tradition of truffle cheeses in Italy. Who knew? That’s what I get for overlooking Italy! My sample is from Il Forteto, a food distribution co-operative outside of Florence who make a number of cheeses, olives and other yummies. That’s it, no history, no monks, no caves. Disappointing.
My little wedge of Boschetto al Tartufo beckons me to overlook this paucity of information. It’s a pure white cheese with no discernible rind at all. There are black slivers of truffle throughout the cheese body-some sources claim the rind is also rubbed with truffle oil, and I do hope this is the case. It looks to have the texture of a mozzarella-kind of rubbery. The smell is intriguing, I can definitely get a hint of sheep-that’s the “oops, I stepped in the milk bucket” odour, but there’s something else, that otherworldly truffle thing that just makes me a little crazy. The truffle actually overwhelms everything else about this cheese, but that’s ok, it’s allowed to.
Ohhhhhhh, mmmmm, ahhhhhhh. You should be so jealous right now. I don’t care who makes this cheese, or what the freaking history is, just go out and buy it. The taste is completely out of this world. It’s a little salty, but that’s ok, as it serves as a foil to the perfect pairing of sheep and truffle, an exotic and sexy little menage. The texture is also crazy good, it’s not rubbery at all, I was wrong! It actually melts the second you put it in your mouth, and spreads its truffley goodness. Apparently it’s just freaking amazing also melted on a grilled cheese (seems so wrong it just might be right) or risotto, or in an omelette. But who can save it long enough to melt it?
This cheese could become a bad habit. Just go out and buy some and thank me later.