Cheese 120-Truffle Tremor


Sometimes I freaking hate “technology.”  Sometimes, like especially when I have JUST WRITTEN an entire blog post and then it gets eaten by the computer, I just feel like throwing in the towel.  Really, that’s how I feel sometimes.

Other things that sometimes make me angry include ignorance-specifically cheese ignorance.  I was at a mall kiosk the other day (yes, feel pity, I was that desperate for food) when a woman approached a Greek “food” place and asked them if they used “goat’s cheese or milk cheese?”  I almost went crazy on her.  Really.  Milk cheese?  What the hell do you think goat’s cheese is made of?  Modified goat sweat?  Umm.  Anyway, I digress, the thing is, there’s just so much prejudice against goat’s cheese out there, it’s really a shame when it’s basically the best thing ever.

Speaking of the best thing ever, I think it’s generally agreed upon by all people over the age of 10 that truffles are also the best thing ever.  They just are, do not try to argue this point with me, especially this morning whilst I am so cross at both technology and cheese ignorance.  I don’t know what the hell goes into the creation of these magical mushrooms (not those kind of magical mushrooms, silly) but they just make anything that touches them about 50% better.  So to mix goat’s milk cheese and truffles is kind of unfair, right?  The best cheese and the best taste together, it’s kind of like caramel and salt-hard to go wrong with an alliance like that.  However, just because something is patently going to be great doesn’t mean I need to ignore it out of principal, right? It’s my blog, and I can eat whatever cheese I want to.  So it is unfair, I’m just going to put that out there now.  Pairing truffles with anything is unfair, truffle cheese in a can would probably be divine, but pairing it with a bloomy-rind surface-ripened goat’s-milk cheese, isn’t that just kind of so fabulous it should almost be illegal?  Do all other cheeses just tremor at the sight of it?

I have previously reviewed one other truffle cheese-Boschetto al Tartufo on day 59 https://myblogofcheese.wordpress.com/2011/12/29/day-59-boschetto-al-tartufo/ .This was a hard sheep’s milk cheese with slivers of white truffle that put me over the moon with joy!  I have also previously reviewed another cheese by today’s maker Cypress Grove Chevre Creamery, https://myblogofcheese.wordpress.com/2012/01/29/day-90-lamb-chopper/ a fantastic sheep’s milk  gouda, so of course, I was fascinated to learn that the Cypress Grove also made a Goat’s milk truffle cheese.  Clearly, this cheese and I had to make each other’s acquiaintance.


My little wedge of pasteurized goat’s milk Truffle Tremor cheese is perfectly ripened.  Do you see how it’s wet and creamy just under that perfect rind?  Do you see the chalky chevre-like interior flecked with truffle?  This is a beautiful cheese.  When I picked it up off my table after photographing it, it stuck to the table- it’s that sticky and runny.  The smell is quite faint, a tiny whiff of goat, the smallest hint of mushroom, but my taste buds squirt in anticipation, they are wise by now, they know this is something special.
Here goes…
OH MY GOD.  This is so unfair.  This is like 6 foot blond models from Sweden-how is the rest of the world supposed to compete? Truffle Tremor hits a triple crown of taste and texture. It’s spicy goat’s milk, ridiculous umami of truffle, also sweet ripe cheese, but tempered by the slightly bitter and salty interior…but then’s there’s the texture…or textures…there’s so much going on!  It’s unctuous and creamy, it”s chalky and flaky, the rind is chewy and tensile-it all mixes up into this blissful cacophony of truffle goat flavour.  It’s just crazy good, but not a starter cheese-don’t give this one to the cheese newbs, they won’t know what hit them, plus it would be a waste-chuck some cheddar at them and keep this one hidden.  Truffle Tremor is a little special treat to share with your most discerning Turophile friends-they will love you for it.
Nice work, Cypress Grove, Truffle Tremor, you are definitely my slice of cheese.

Cheese 119-Bresse Bleu (Bleu de Bresse)

This cheese journey of mine has been beset by many trials and tribulations over the last 8 months.  There was the great fridge breakdown of 2011,  that heinous stomach flu, then there was Christmas, and there was the cleanse…but through each I soldiered on, and through each of these foibles, the cheese was purchased and sampled-until this week. This Monday I eagerly planned a food field trip to a new cheese shop in a town close by that I had never visited which reportedly-had a number of rare Canadian cheeses-how exciting!

It took me almost an hour to drive to this remote location (I tell you this so that you may appreciate my dedication to cheese).  I drove up, parked my car, and made a b-line to the front door which beckoned me-where I was stopped.  By the police. A uniformed officer opened the door sharply and informed me “ma’am, we are closed.”  It was only then that I noticed the police tape and multiple police vehicles with lights on surrounding the shop.  Seriously.  I was so gobsmacked by the notion of a new cheese shop that I had blithely walked into a crime scene.  That’s how I roll when it comes to cheese.

Thus, today’s cheese is not some exotic little Canadian number that I can wax on about: how rare, how special, the terroir, et cetera.  Today we had to settle for something a little more pedestrian and thus available at my local market which is not covered in police tape.

Actually, it’s a good idea to review Bleu de Bresse, AKA Bresse Bleu, as I realize I have not yet reviewed any cheese in this family-the bloomy rind/blue cheese hybrid.  There are many cheeses in this family.  This is a sneaky little cheese which might surprise you at a party- you see that white mushroomy rind and think, “ah yes, a  camembert, I can handle that!” but it’s not until you have cut into it, that you realize the inside is studded with little pockets of blue mold.  You have been tricked! The first time this ever happened to me I thought the cheese had gone off and no one had noticed.  Nope, they do this on purpose.  The good thing about this type of cheese is that it really is a gateway cheese to more intense blues.  Because it looks so benign, it’s easy to talk someone into just trying just a little bit.  It’s so mild and friendly that it might just be the perfect place to start a foray into blue.

Bleu de Bresse comes from France. It is a cow’s milk cheese made from pasteurized milk and it’s definitely factory made.  The texture and appearance externally is similar to camembert with that soft, white and edible rind. Bresse Bleu first arrived on the scene in 1951 and comes from the French Province of Bresse-specifically the French village of Bourge-en-Bresse.  The brand and trademark for Bleu de Bresse are wholly owned by European cheese giant Bongrain-thus all Bresse Bleu is the same, and all Bresse Bleu is one-there are no regional variations.  Alas, I was unable to find any sexy little stories about the history of this cheese, but it reminds me of a nice Cambazola so I like to think that’s the inspiration. I have no idea, really. That’s just me musing aloud.

This cheese is basically a camembert which has our old friend, Penicillium Roqueforti introduced straight into the curds, afterwards it is  drained and covered with pulverized Penicillium camemberti to form the outer coating, so it truly is a hybrid, Roquefort on the inside, and camembert on the outside.

My little round of Bresse Bleu is quite attractive and demure.  I cleverly purchased it on sale as it was just at the “best before date” which you must ALWAYS do with a soft cheese like this.  It does indeed appear to be a boring little camembert-type white mould cheese, but when you cut it open, a little blue mouldy surprise!  This one’s quite creamy inside as I waited for just the right time to open it, there is some blue dappling, but it’s nothing crazy.  The interior is much creamier and more yellow than I expected.  The smell is actually divine, it makes me feel somewhat strange-it’s a tiny bit like pee, but also like mushrooms, truffles, rotten logs and carnal thoughts, all wrapped up into one.  Mmm.

Here goes…

Oh yum!  It’s actually fabulous.  It’s not as salty as most blues, it’s more creamy and sweet with that spicy tang well-balanced by the mellow note of cream.  The texture is also fantastic, that camembert rind is really thick and chewy and makes a great contrast to the creamy interior for a great mouth-feel.  This really is a fusion cheese, it’s totally camembert, and totally Roquefort, cool.  This is not a crumbler, this is a smeary cheese.  Wow, it’s good.  I think this one would be a good starter blue for those fearful of the real stuff, but it’s good enough for my cheese plate all on its own.

Well, the boys in Blue lead me to Bresse Bleu-maybe it was meant to be, because Bresse Bleu, you are my slice of cheese.


Cheese 118-Blue Capri

 

Many people have strong feelings about goat’s milk and goat’s milk cheese.  This is for good reason.  Everything touched by a goat tastes like it was-well, touched by a goat! I have a strong sense-memory of being a hippie child (if you haven’t already, go out and buy my book “Adult Child of Hippies” please, be a darling), and eating goat’s milk products-which were horrible. Goats and hippies go together like Brie and baguette, and you could depend upon that barny hoof-taste being in just about anything.  How I wish I was lying! I have a specific memory of eating goat’s-milk pancakes with carob chips that will stain my sense memories indelibly.  I share this with you not to disrespect goats, but to show you how far I have come.  I am a goat-convert, you see, but it’s taken almost 40 years-so don’t just dismiss goat products.  Yes, they taste weird, but that’s actually the charm.

As I not only adore (these days) goat’s cheese, but also adore (these days) blue cheese, imagine my great joy to discover the two existing in the same cheese!  A cheese Yahtzee! I was at the Trout Lake farmer’s Market last Saturday-this is in East Vancouver for you non-locals-when a lovely lady in a booth beckoned me to taste her cheese!  How could I resist?  Although not the head cheese-maker, she told me that she had helped out with this batch, and that’s just about as good as it gets to me.  There’s something about looking into the eyes of the cheesemaker that sends shivers down my spine.  Yes, I’m that kind of weird!

I have, in fact-reviewed this “Goat’s Pride Dairy” before on cheese 96 “Chevrotina.”  Alas, I was not overly impressed-but concluded that that specific cheese was a little young and that it was my fault…and that I would be back, so here I am. I keep my promises to cheese.  To save you the trouble of searching, and me the trouble of re-writing, here’s a little snippet of the history from that post to give us some context.

“The certified organic “Goat’s Pride” Dairy is found  in Abbotsford, BC. It’s the first Certified Organic goat dairy in western Canada.  This local company has been making cheese for the past six years. In addition to cheese, Goat’s Pride farm offers tours for groups of 12 or more with activities including  goat education, cheese tasting, and goat milking demonstration.  This farm tour offering seems to be on trend with local fromageries.  One suspects it must be challenging to deal with goats, cheese making, and tourists simultaneously.

Goat’s Pride is a family owned farm. Peter and Jo-Ann Dykstra and their children do it all.  They keep their goat-herd and their fromagerie on the same property, so it’s all very cozy. The goats have access to roam outside when it is sunny, and they can wander freely on the farm’s 20 acres of bush, snacking to their little goat hearts content. Their pens are large, and roomy, and this whole set up seems very goat positive. The goats here are fed organic grain, hay and alfalfa. They  use no hormones, and will use antibiotics only under duress-preferring to use herbal or homeopathic remedies, and that’s a first, homeopathics for goats!  Wow. Most of the milk comes from their farm although they do occasionally source milk from another organic goat farm in Chilliwack.”

…So, today’s cheese is their “Blue Capri” which the label states is their “award-winning Blue cheese,” “a perfect well-aged Roquefort.” Of course, as we all know, Roquefort is made from sheep’s milk, not goat’s.  The most famous blue goat’s cheese is Gorgonzola-so that has me a little confused, but let’s not get stuck on semantics. I’m also not sure how it’s “award-winning” the website doesn’t clarify, but there is a picture of the cheese with a blue ribbon on it, again, let’s not get stuck on semantics.  The bottom line is this is an organic goat’s cheese from a local cheese maker-and I got to look the maker’s helper in the eye, so really, I’m happy, and really, that’s what this blog is all about.


My little wedge of Blue Capri certified organic goat’s milk “Roquefort” is mostly white with a small amount of veining.  It crumbled when I took it out of the package, it’s a fragile cheese and a little moist.  There’s no discernible rind, I think it’s been cut off-pity.  It’s fragrant, a bouquet of goat-hoof and piquant erzats-vomit that I love so much in a good blue cheese.  And for the record, I say this is the most positive way-all Roquefort cheese contains the same enzyme as vomit-as does  parmigiano-reggiano  it’s a good thing, not a bad thing, get over it!  My mouth waters in anticipation…goat, plus mould! Wowzers!

Here goes…

Mmmmmmm.  Oh, super fantastic yummy!  But make no mistake, this is a gorgonzola to my taste buds, not sure why they call it a Roquefort!  It’s spicy, salty, raunchy, creamy and intense.  It has that bite of the blue then that peppery kick of the goat’s hoof.  There’s nothing subtle about Blue Capri, it’s a fantastic punch in the face.  It’s bright, intense and shakes your taste buds out of their slumber.  That being said-it’s a well-balanced cheese, all of the different elements are in equal strength, so that taste profile is just perfectly balanced.   Warning, this is no starter cheese.  This one would just about kill my husband who can’t handle a blue or a goat’s cheese, so you know what that means-this one is mine, all mine! You hit this one out of the ballpark, Goat’s Pride, I’m proud of you, you, yes you, are my slice of cheese!

Cheese 117 Okanagan Falls Goat Cheddar

Sometimes we pretend to be something we aren’t. Often we do this because we are ashamed of the truth.  This is sad.  I often find cheese pretending to be something it isn’t, and this makes me sad too.  Cheese should be proud of itself, its history.  It should brag about its heritage and lineage because cheese is great.

Today’s cheese is a case in point, it’s called “Okanagan Falls” 100% Goat milk cheddar cheese.  I found this cheese at an epic deli in Vancouver called Bosa, which I have been shopping at since childhood (go there, thank me later, it rocks.) This “Okanagan Falls” cheese caught my eye while I was there.  First, because it was obviously a local BC cheese (the Okanagan is a region of British Columbia, Okanagan Falls, a small village in the interior of the province) and secondly, I had never heard of it.  Now, almost 120 cheeses into this blog, I consider myself pretty well-versed in the cheeses of BC and Canada, and this one had completely hidden from me.  A local cheese made in a small village in my province!  Wowzers.  This sort of thing gets me really excited.

Obviously I bought it, and was torn between a number of different cheese options-this “Okanagan Falls” outfit was obviously a well-established fromagerie with a large variety of cheeses for sale…how in the world did I miss this?  Feeling chagrined at my lack of local cheese knowledge but determined to learn more, I got home to do my research, but it was just dead-end after dead-end.  The website for Okanagan-Falls cheese says “Inspired by the beauty and abundance of the Okanagan valley, the Okanagan Falls family of products are crafted in small batches using all natural ingredients. “  But that’s it.  Like totally, that’s it.  They don’t say where the cheese is made, who made it, where in Okanagan Falls it’s from, why it’s from Okanagan Falls, if  it’s from Okanagan Falls.  Nothing.

Interestingly, the registered owner of the company is found at same address as Bosa foods, where I bought the cheese, so I’m making the jump here to guess that Okanagan Falls is a Bosa Foods private label.  I just wish this was a little more obvious.  I’m guessing this cheese wasn’t actually made anywhere near Okanagan Falls at all…it’s just inspired by it…whatever that means.  Who knows where this cheese is made, it could be made in Vancouver somewhere for all I know.  I just feel badly that this cheese feels it needs to pretend in order to have some Je ne sais quoi sexiness associated with some small town, although I have seen this same pattern over and over again in cheese.  Cheeses claiming to be made in one place, or being associated with some history or maker that doesn’t even exist.  If anyone reading this knows any different, please let me know.  I would be happy to be proven wrong.

Well, sorry, that’s about all the info I have on this so-called goat’s Cheddar.  I don’t know anything other than what the label states: pasteurized goat’s milk. Product of Canada.  Contains salt.  I have tried one other goat’s cheddar during this blog, that was Chevre Noir, a firm white cheese with a black wax rind, and I adored that cheese.  Really, for me it’s hard to go wrong with goat’s cheddar, those are practically my two favorite things in the world. Let’s cast my doubts aside and consider the cheese.

My mysterious Okanagan Falls Goat’s Cheddar is white with no rind.  Goat’s milk cheese is always white, goat’s have less carotene in their milk.  When I remove it from the package it’s shockingly wet and sticky-this is not what I would call Cheddar.  I’m thinking the word “cheddar” here is also being used a little loosely.  It’s mild-smelling, really, mild, you need to really sniff to catch the goat.  This is a very fresh cheese, not aged. When I cut it, it’s sticking to my fingers and dripping.  Strange.

Here goes…

Where’s the goat?  Oh…there’s the goat.  Mmmmm.  Actually, it’s not bad despite all my grumbling.  It’s tart and lemony and salty and pretty chilled out, I mean it’s really chilled out.  You could pretend there was no goat’s milk in this one and give it to a professed goat’s-milk hater and I don’t know that they would notice the difference. The texture is very soft and wet.  This is not a cheddar as far as I’m concerned, it’s more like a pressed chevre.  The cheese is a decent cheese, but I just don’t get it. It needs to do some soul-searching and re-invent itself. I’m not buying it as Okanagan Falls Goat Cheddar, but I might buy it as Vancouver East Pressed Chevre-doesn’t that have a better ring?  See, the truth shall set you free.

Cheese 116, Cheshire



behold, the ambiguous old-timey label!

What do you think of when you hear the word, “Cheshire,” is it cheese?  No, of course not, it’s a grinning cat.  But why does the Cheshire cat grin? It’s because of the large number of dairy farms in Cheshire.  The cats in Cheshire all grin because they are dreaming of milk and cream. No word of a lie!  One of them just became famous.

Of course, there is more to Cheshire than just happy cats.  Cheshire is also one of Britain’s oldest and most beloved cheeses, second only to the behemoth, Cheddar, and unfortunately, often mistaken for a crumblier, mellower version, which it isn’t. Cheshire is really its own cheese.  It’s hard to determine the origin of Cheshire cheese. A cheese very much like this has been made for a very long time by a lot of people, but it at least started with the Romans who brought cheese-making into what is now Cheshire (then called Chestershire).  Camden’s Brittania first published in 1586 refers to cheese making in Cheshire: ” … the grasse and fodder there is of that goodness and vertue that the cheeses bee made heere in great number of a most pleasing and delicate taste, such as all England againe affordeth not the like; no, though the best dairy women otherwise and skilfullest in cheesemaking be had from hence.”  Really, I’m not sure what the hell he is saying here, but I think it means that this Cheshire rocked, even back then. Nice.

Cheshire was a big deal back in the day, it replaced Suffolk cheese which had been the big wheel (snicker) up until 1650‘s when the dreaded cattle disease hit Suffolk and damaged the milk supply. Cheshire was the most popular cheese on the market in the late 18th century due to the fact that in 1758 the British Navy ordered that ships be stocked with Cheshire and Gloucester cheeses. By 1823, Cheshire cheese production was estimated at 10,000 tonnes per year; in around 1870, it was estimated as 12,000 tons per year. Cheshire dominated as it was hard, strong, and could be shipped great distances and not be bothered in the least.

Alas, like so many British cheeses, the second world war almost did poor Cheshire cheese in.  All the milk supply was basically pooled to make so-called  Government Cheddar, all Cheshire production stopped.  It’s basically limped along ever since, never to return to its former glory as other, sexier cheeses became available.  Poor Cheshire cheese.

Cheshire today comes in three varieties, white, red (just like white, dyed with annatto) and a blue (not so popular, almost extinct). Cheshire Cheese is sold at different ages and like all cheese, as it matures, its taste and texture will develop. Originally the cattle who’s milk made Cheshire were grazed on salt marshes.  The salt content caused the cheese to ripen slowly and gave it a crumbly texture (terroir!) These days that saltiness and crumbly texture are a calculated creation by a cheese laboratory, but that’s the back story.

I wasn’t able to discern much about my specific example of Cheshire, Coombe Castle Cheshire, other than this company with it’s de regeur old-timey label has  been exporting specialty cheeses from the British Highlands and Islands to more than 40 countries for about 30 years. Whether Coombe castle is the maker or simply the distributor is unclear, they don’t share much about the cheese on their website, which is unfortunate. I suspect they are only a distributor as this cheese is not protected by any DOP or AOC designation, really anyone can make a cheese and call it Cheshire.

I can see why people mistake Cheshire for Cheddar.  It’s English, it’s either white or orange, it comes in blocks with no rinds.  My little block of Cheshire is benign and placid.  It’s made of pasteurized cow’s milk, it’s ever so slightly moist to the touch and has a very faint cheese smell, nothing offensive in the least.  When I cut it, it crumbled!  I’m so pleased.  I like to think that this is a result of the salt marsh terroir that the cattle grazed upon, but I fear that’s simply a romantic notion on my part.

Here goes…

It’s bitter!  It’s salty!  It’s astringent?  Why do people eat cheese like this?  They must just feel nostalgic for it, that’s the only explanation I have.  Sorry Cheshire, you are kind of a nasty cheese.  My mouth just puckers right up tasting you.  This cheese does crumble, that’s true, but who cares?  This one is definitely not my slice of cheese, although I will love you still if it is yours.