Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Wednesday Cheesy Goodness Blogging

I like lots of cheese if you please; I like lots of cheese if you don't please. I don't mean to get catty about it, but I never understood people who say they don't like cheese because it's sort of like saying you don't like people--given there are so many different varieties, there's got to be at least one you'd appreciate. Then again, I like more cheeses than I do people, but that might just be because I've never met a chesse that was an Atlanta Braves fan, or a Republican. I like my cheese hard, soft, and semi; mild, mercurial, and musty. Cheese fascinates me the way wine does, how much it's part of a culture (in two ways), a place, a people, a season. Plus it just tastes good.

Luckily, Santa Barbara has a fine cheese store C'est Cheese, which not only has terrific stock but is run by sweet people, so you feel even better supporting Michael and Kathryn as you get your cheesy fix. Each month the store holds a cheese tasting, which is a great way to learn something and eat well. Amy and I have attended several, including the March Cheeses of Switzerland event. We got to try 5 samples, matched with a wine (a Morgan sauvignon blanc)--it was a hole [sic] lot of Swiss cheese! OK, these cheeses weren't particularly aerated, as it were, and while 4 of the 5 were variations on a theme, the last cheese was a real stinker, in that good way, but we'll get to Vacherin Mont d'Or in a bit.

As for the variations, all made from cow's milk, it's hard to go wrong with a classic, actually aged Gruyere. A wonderful creaminess and nuttiness, and much more flavorful than typical grocery store Gruyere--the Trader Joe's kind is sort of the Two-Buck Chuck of cheese, alas. Appenzeller is a bit milder, although no dog of a cheese, especially in fondue (C'est Cheese does fondue tastings too, but we have yet to stop our schedule and melt with them). My favorite of the night was Hoch Ybrig, not only because it sounds like cheese trying to talk like a pirate but, as the much more fromageloquent Max McCalman puts it, "its flavors are complex, harmonious, and lingering; they include salty, nutty, sweet, and tangy with a hint of butterscotch." And how can you go wrong when your cheese packs its own dessert? The Seelander, which makes me think there should be goofy Ben Stiller on the label, is good, but a tad less complex, a pinch saltier.

As for that Vacherin, it's one of those runny, gooey, strong cheeses that has a bit of the barnyard to it. Like a strong-willed person, you sort of admire it more than want to have it around a whole lot, but at times it helps clear the room, and there's a use to that.

Oh, while eating this good stuff, you also get to learn a lot about the cheesemaking process (no whey!) and each cheese, which often includes battles over who gets to call their cheese what and why the US is obsessed with pasteurization and how long to age your cheese (not as long as most of my jokes are old). But I don't mean to milk this topic till your blue, I promise. Suffice to say that Kathryn is a terrific host, managing to be both knowledgeable and interesting, even to an after-work crowd starting to drink.

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10 Comments:

Anonymous Tessitura said...

WOW...this is one of the best I have read in a bit...maybe I am biased...I LOVE CHEESE!!! but the jokes were just the right kind of cheese I like too! Laid out like a mine field as well.

three cheers!
oh and my WV is pretty good too: try #1)neeaqkxk...?

12:40 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Mmmmmmmm. This post'll have my wheels spinning. I'll be rennin to the store later today.

WV: ilovemanchego

(Ok, I made that up, but it is one of my favorite cheeses.)

5:14 AM  
Blogger Queen Whackamole said...

Ditto Tessitura and Manchego Mike... vamos al quesoria!

WV: iikbdlc

8:39 AM  
Blogger Queen Whackamole said...

WOOOHOO! Got my WV on the first try!

WV: zokquks

8:40 AM  
Anonymous Amy said...

I <3 cheese! Talk cheesy to me baby!

WV#1: hey! the letter picture is missing!

wv#2: lvqxeq

9:42 AM  
Blogger DED said...

mmmmmmm cheese...

I never understood people who say they don't like cheese because it's sort of like saying you don't like people--given there are so many different varieties, there's got to be at least one you'd appreciate.

I've said the same about beer.

10:01 AM  
Blogger George said...

A minefield of cheese--there are some horribly tasteless jokes I could make here, but tastelessness in a post about yummy food stands out like Heather Mills in a kicking contest. Oops, my humor fell flat there.

Man-o, man-o, manchego. But don't stop there--if you like the Spanish cheeses, try Mont Enebro.

Ded, indeed on the beer thing. I've slurred the same about it myself.

10:10 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Mont Enebro

Is that a sheep's cheese too?

WV:doesitcomewithjamonserrano?

3:23 PM  
Blogger George said...

Here's what the Cheese Store of Silver Lake (your initial Google-shopping stop) says:

(Goat's milk, Spain)

The mottled, bluish-gray rind on this aggressive goat cheese makes it clear you are about to have an intense experience, one that will introduce flavors no other goat cheese comes close to matching. The stark-white paste starts out deceivingly mild, then erupts with a spicy, tangy flavor that the dense, almost chewy texture allows you to savor.

3:54 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Wow.

If only the model from the Twinkie picture dresses up as some Mont Enebro we could have ourselves some kinda experience here.

6:08 PM  

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