As part of our curriculum, we had a wonderful one day Cheese Course last block. The day before, we researched cheeses, and our Chef went to buy what he could find at Dean & Deluca in St. Helena. On the day of, we got a Cheese Course binder all about cheese, and after a lecture and preparing some cheese accompaniments (toasted baguette slices, proscuitto, breadsticks, sliced fruit, reduced balsamic and port, armagnac-soaked cherries), we got down to tasting.
I like this kind of learning about products from the outside world in school, and since I love cheese, it was one of my favorite days at school so far. I want to try to incorporate cheeses into the way I think about desserts/late courses in the future, and if I can try a cheese a week, that’d be a good idea.
Here are a few things that I found interesting:
- Cheese is curds (coagulated solids of milk) in whey (the liquid component of milk).
- Guidelines for a cheese plate – serve at room temp (62F-75F) so take out of fridge a few hours before; start at 6 o’clock on the plate and go clockwise for placement, mild to complex cheeses, from diff’t animals or regions, if desired; cut cheeses as close to original shape as possible; the pointy end of a wedge should face outward; have complementing, contrasting, and/or regional garnishes on the plate.
- The bloom for bloomy rind cheeses, like brie and camembert, are introduced by spraying mold spores onto the cheese and allowing it to grow under humid conditions in a ripening cave.
- Washed rind cheeses are often especially stinky. They are washed with water, brine, wine, beer, or combo to stimulate growth of bacteria and molds
- Ammonia is a by-product of the chemical reactions that occur during maturation. If a cheese smells like ammonia, unwrap it and let it breathe. If it doesn’t go away and is rancid/soapy/runny, it’s over-ripe.
- Cheeses should be stored between 45F to 60F and with 80% relative humidity.
- When they are lactating, cows produce 120 pounds of milk a day, while sheep produce 4.5#/day and goats produce 15#/day.
- Fromage D’Affinoise
- Abbaye de Citeaux
- Comte Bodaz Tunnel Reserve
- Sharp Manchego Aged 14 months
- Humboldt Fog
- Goat’s Leap Goat Cheese
- Cheshire Appleby Cheddar
- Gorgonzola Fiore di Latte
I was only able to get pictures of them after we all had a go at them, so they’re not the prettiest pictures in the world and my apparently shaky hands have blurred a couple… but, since this blog serves as my culinary memory, I’m putting ind’l cheese pic’s after the jump. Look at them only if you dare.
Also, I was inspired by Cheese Day, so from something I read in The French Laundry Cookbook, I cut away the rind of a wheel of brie and mixed it in my mixer, as if I were creaming butter. After about 10 minutes on medium, it was white and light, just a bit denser than whipped butter. I liked having the taste of brie with such a light texture. It was great on toasted bread, with roasted garlic and black pepper.
Fromage D’Affinois. Buttery.
Abbaye de Citeaux. Grassy.
Taleggio. Not quite fully ripe
Comte Bodaz Tunnel Reserve. Rather Swiss Cheese-like, nutty.
Sharp Manchego Aged 14 months
Montasio. Rather dry sheep’s milk cheese.
Humboldt Fog. With ash in middle. Fantastic.
Goat’s Leap Goat Cheese. With ash in middle. Fantastic.
Cheshire Appleby Cheddar. Couldn’t quite love mold and cheddar, but it was ok.
Gorgonzola Fiore di Latte
Roquefort (no pic)
Cabrales. Past its peak. Rancid. Green. Made the inside of my mouth tingle.