Thursday, August 9, 2007
Summer Cheese Plate
This summer cheese plate was perfect for a July evening before a pasta dinner. All items were purchased at The Cheese Store of Silverlake.
Starting from 12:00 on the plate and moving clockwise:
Gerome Munster, soft French cow cheese.
French Munster is one of the classic cheeses of France. This Gerome Muster hails from Lorraine. Don't confuse French munster with the bland American muenster with its orange rind. French Munster is a much more powerful and flavorful cheese, a washed rind cheese that is soft and gooey. It's pungent, but this one was pleasantly so without reaching the highest of stink. It had a slightly porky taste which made me think it would go well with prosciutto or a good salami.
Piave, hard Italian cow cheese.
Piave is in the Parmigiano Reggiano family of cheeses. It hails from Northern Italy and has the look, texture and taste of Parm, but with a sweeter and more nutty flavor. When you take a bite, you immediately get nuttiness and then you get a white-wine/fruit flavor. This was a great munching cheese but would do well over pasta or a salad as well.
French Goat, raw goat milk cheese.
I can't say I can faithfully recreate the name or producer of this aged French raw milk goat cheese, but it had a very subtle taste for a goat cheese. You don't get any of that petting zoo/barnyard taste that it typical of aged goats. The thick, pasty center typical of chevre, was surrounded by goo, which comes form the aging process. While I liked this cheese, it could stand some more aging to increase the goo to paste ratio.
Stinking Bishop, English cow cheese.
Ah, the Stinking Bishop, the cheese that revived a comatose Wallace in the Wallace & Gromit movie. When I think of English cheeses, I think of the wonderful Cheddars, Cheshires and other firm cheeses or the glorious blue Stiltons. Stinking Bishop is decidedly un-English, having more similarity to a French Epoisse or an Italian Taleggio. Like those cheeses, it has a high stink; this is what people mean when they talk about cheese that smells like old sweat socks. But as with a good Epoisse, the smelly bark is worse that the tasty bite. The cheese itself, while strong, has a smooth, complex flavor. Every bite is a revelation, salty, creamy, dreamy. Stinking Bishop is a magnificent cheese, try some soon, but keep in mind that it is not for the faint of heart.
This was a great cheese plate. All of these were winners, though I was less excited by the goat than the other three. They were served with a Robert Mondavi Riesling, which went particularly well with the Piave with its fruit and nut flavors.