Invitation to a Cheese Tasting Lunch
Have a Cheese Tasting - Not Wine Tasting
By: Astrid Hiemer - Jan 10, 2022
We try to have fun every day! So, today was my turn to entertain Charles and I combined it with the following cheese tasting:
Please, first see my photo series with and without cheese names and prices. Did you know that there is a 300 % mark-up on cheeses? Even though that was told to me by someone, who wanted to get into the cheese business 30 years ago because it was quite lucrative, I believe that’s still true today. After all the most expensive cheese that we tasted today, cost $ 30.00 per pound. No, that’s not correct! It was only $ 29.99/lb.
I don’t believe that the mark-up for flowers is 300 % or more, even though I would say that ‘spoilage’ for flowers is higher than for cheeses. I may be wrong, I’m not in the business. We just love flowers and cheeses and buy them.
So, here’s the lowdown:
First, we tasted the sheep and goat cheeses. Il Canestrato L’Antica Cascina – Southern Italy pasteurized sheeps milk, $ 15.99/lb. Good texture, a dense flavor which lingers in the mouth, as Charles declared.
Royal Hollandia, (founded in 1898), Cablanca Goat Gouda, $ 19.99/lb. A creamy, fairly white, mild goat cheese. The company suggests to pair it with a Riesling wine, Amber Ale, dried apricots, or pistachios. Well, we paired it with a muffin and a German rye bread with sunflower seeds. I also always have the Delba pumpernickel bread on hand, since I have a sensitivity to any wheat products. I liked the gouda better than Charles. And it’s the first goat gouda that we tried – nice, really nice.
Moliterno Al Tartufo, pasteurized sheep’s milk with black truffle, from Sardegna, Italy, $29.99/lb. It is the best cheese that we tasted today, hands down! It has a wonderful smooth and fine texture. The black truffle powder, I suppose it is, form a thin line throughout the cheese similar to blue cheeses. Black truffles, used in various products, is much more abundant than white truffles, and therefore much cheaper in price with easy availability.
On the second board were three pasteurized cow’s milk cheeses: Italian Fontal, $ 9.99/lb. It’s a mild, soft and creamy cheese, liked by Charles. I found it a touch bitter.
Cantal du Saler, France, $ 10.99/lb. It’s mild and, for us, it has no distinguished flavor. Then, however:
Gorgonzola Piccante, pasteurized cow’s milk blue, Lombardia, Italy, $ 13.99/lb, knocks you out of your seat! A sharp gorgonzola that Charles loved! I could only taste a small piece, wow. And, actually, people who suffer from migraines should not eat blue cheeses as well as smoked products. I was told that by a doctor many years ago, and I keep it in mind. Luckily, I don’t suffer from painful migraines any longer. Well, the gorgonzola is definitely not for me.
Our dear neighbor, Dez, (Desiree Taylor) gave us a small, pretty bag with medium sharp, shredded cheddar for Christmas. It has a nutty quality, a strong yellow color and it’s fun to eat. We’ll use it on pasta or tostadas soon. Cricket Creek Farm in Williamstown, MA, makes it.
Our friend Michael McGrath offered us as a Christmas present a glass of vegetables in a fine 'Chinese brine': carrots, onions, cucumbers, celery stalks, peppers, even garlic and a hot pepper on top. They are julienne cut, very delicious and paired also well with the cheeses. The glass is visible in the photographs. ~~ And since I/we are also writing about a birthday, our good fortune is that Michael and I share the same birth day.....
And then, there is Oven-Baked Parm Crisps, cheese cookies, made in the USA and distributed by That’s How We Roll, LLC, Montclair, NJ. We did not taste them today; yet “they are devilish,” according to Charles. I can only eat two at a time, just fabulous!
Most of the tasting cheeses were bought at Guido’s in Pittsfield (Rt. 7), specially priced, which we appreciated. Of course, not the one that cost $ 30/lb. We also tasted a stand-by goat cheese from Big Y, made with honey, so that the often slightly bitter taste of soft goat cheeses is not present, and we both liked it a lot.
There is another sweet cheese, Gjetost, a Norwegian cheese. A long missed friend, Carl Nesjar, from Oslo, Norway, told me that he once tried a 200 year old gjetost, which did not taste much different than the fresh cheese. It still had the sweetness, just dryer. Most of our friends will taste it when we have offered it occasionally. It should be cut with a cheese slicer, and it is surely an acquired taste. But our friend, Bim Burns and me, we love the Norwegian cheese. I currently have a small piece in our fridge. In the US, it is sold in small 4 oz. squares, and wrapped in orange plastic paper. How do I miss buying cheeses from the block or wheel, cut by a cheese specialist in a fine store, and wrapped in wax paper. Instead, we all purchase cheeses precut, in plastic foil, which I undo as soon as we get home.
A toast to cheeses - and all in moderation!