On Tuesday night, I was invited to a small wine/cheese gathering at the home of a couple I met years ago when I was looking for a new job. They run a career placement company called Careers for Women (and men). I liked Cynnie right away from our first conversation and we’ve managed to keep in touch with each other ever since. She’s been reading about my cheese-capades and asked me if I’d be kind enough to pick out a selection of cheeses for the occasion. I was happy to do it, of course, and headed over to Murray’s.
We ended up being five people, so I thought four cheeses would be a nice number. I knew I wanted to do a goat cheese, a washed-rind cheese, a mountain-style cheese and a blue cheese… but I went in to Murray’s with an open mind. Here is what I ended up with:
- Monte Enebro: a pasteurized goat’s-milk cheese from Spain. The white inside has a nice tangy flavor – like most goat cheese, but as you get closer to the rind, you get a nice cream line (super creamy section right inside the rind) and then the rind itself has flavors similar to a blue cheese. I think this is a delicious goat cheese – unique and tasty – and interesting in flavor and appearance! Everyone loved it.
- Vacherin Mont d’Or: this is a special cheese, available only for a few months out of the year (November – March typically). It comes from the Jura Mountains of Switzerland and is made with thermalized (a gentler version of pasteurization that kills less of the cheese’s flavor) cow’s milk. It comes in a round wooden box and when ripe, it is SUPER creamy and luscious… we’re talking eat it with a spoon or spread it over bread. It is a washed-rind cheese (so it has that orangey color and funky barny smell) and it’s also wrapped with a piece of spruce bark so it has a delightful woodsy forest-like flavor. I’ve been reading about it and supposedly it is delicious if you bake it – mmmmmm…I’ll have to try that someday. If you’re interested in trying this one, you better look for it quickly because it goes fast and will be gone for the year before you know it! It’s not cheap though – it sells for around $25-$30 per cheese… but it can feed a bunch of people and it’s like nothing you’ve ever had before. I swear.
- Ossau-Iraty – this is definitely one of my all-time favorite cheeses. It is made from raw sheep’s milk in the pyrenees of France. It is a mountain-style cheese – like a gruyere or a comte – but this one is made with sheep’s milk instead of cow. It does have those yummy flavors consistent with mountain cheeses… it’s nutty, a little sweet, rich and buttery and is wonderful to snack on.
- Fourme d’Ambert: I’ve mentioned this cheese before – again, it is one of my favorites and definitely my go-to blue. It is one of the oldest cheeses made in France and is made with pasteurized cow’s milk. This is a great cheese to try if you’re a beginner with blues (or if you think you don’t like them). I once thought I didn’t like blue cheese and this is the cheese that changed my mind. It’s pretty mild and creamy and delicious. Cowgirl Creamery refers to it as the “chocolate of blue cheeses”.
So, in addition to these cheeses, I brought over some figs, Largueta almonds (from Spain), dried cherries and a nice crusty french baguette. Total yumminess ensued and all the guests seemed impressed and delighted by the selection! I must say – these are not inexpensive cheeses. They all cost between $20 and $30/lb. Of course, if it’s just a small gathering, you are typically buying less than a pound – but still. I think for fun next time, I’m going to go the cheaper route and see what kind of delicious assortment we can get for half the money! Stay tuned for a report.
Now – for the photo of the day:
Photo 284 out of 365 – “Reflection in a Puddle”