Ok… so where were we? Casellula for cheese. YUM.
So, when I left you last, my cheese friends Andrew and Manuela and I had just enjoyed a superb cheese experience at Casellula. We each planned on ordering two cheeses for a total of six… but Andrew knew the Fromagier from back in the day at Murray’s, so he surprised us with an extra cheese each for a total of nine (and then we couldn’t pass up a tenth – blue for dessert!)
We’ll start with my cheese plate (pictured below). We had already dug into cheese number one before someone had the brilliant idea for me to photograph our plates (my camera was sitting right on the table – but I was too wrapped up in cheese splendor to think about anything else.) I have to say, I’m disappointed in myself that I did not take detailed tasting notes while we ate and drank, because now it is two days later and I can’t really remember the specifics of each cheese. BUT – I will list each cheese we tasted and include tasting notes from the menu, from the blogosphere and from my memory. Next time, I have to write my notes immediately! Another good learning experience.
Nell’s Cheese Plate at Casellula:
In order from left to right, the cheeses are:
- Nocetto di Capra – a pasteurized goat’s milk cheese from Lombardy, Italy. The texture was super creamy and luscious. Casellula described it as “like whipped cream with a tang”. To me, it was rich, velvety and sweet with only a hint of the usual goat tang. It was paired with a sweet vanilla pear concoction, and together, I have to say the flavor was actually a tad sweet for me… I’m more more of a savory girl, but I like the cheese alone – more as a dessert cheese.
- Menuet made by Dancing Cow – a raw cow’s milk cheese from Bridport, Vermont. Aged for a minimum of five months at the Cellars at Jasper Hill (where the lovely Cabot Clothbound Cheddar is aged… among others), this cheese is a little sweet and nutty, creamy (coats your tongue) and has some woody/grassy flavors. This one was paired with a pine nut and thyme (or maybe rosemary?) cluster, which was quite yummy.
- Battenkill Brebis made by 3-Corner Field Farm – a raw sheep’s milk cheese from Shushan, New York. This cheese is pretty mild with that nice salty, sweet, sheepy flavor that I often find to be really snacky and yummy. This one was paired with a grain mustard, which I liked very much – the little grains popped in your mouth when you bit down on them. Fun.
My favorite from this cheese plate was probably the Menuet! I’ll have to find it again and taste a lot more of it… I can barely remember it now two days later! That’s the thing about new cheeses… you have to keep tasting them over and over to commit them to memory. It’s a tough job that takes real dedication (yes please!). 🙂
Ok – on to Andrew’s plate at Casellula:
In order from left to right the cheeses are:
- Nuvola di Pecora – a pasteurized sheep’s milk cheese from Romagna, Italy. The name translates to “sheep clouds” in English – which is probably because it is a bloomy-rind cheese (like brie) – with a soft white rind and pretty white-colored paste. The cheese is custardy, mild and creamy with only a little hint of the sheepy tang flavor. This was paired with a delicious nut brittle.
- Lou Bergier Pichin – a raw cow’s milk cheese from Piedmont, Italy. This cheese is made using thistle rennet (common of many Portuguese and Spanish cheeses). Casellula describes it as “Buttery. Artichoke and floral notes. Fantastic!” This cheese is aged for sixty days (the minimum allowed for raw-milk cheeses to be sold in America) and was paired with a cilantro tomatillo relish, which was refreshing and zippy.
- Pecorino del Parco made my Marcelli Formaggi – a raw sheep’s milk cheese from Abruzzo, Italy. This cheese has a harder, more crumbly texture and a grassy, floral flavor, which comes from all the wild herbs and flowers the sheep eat in the mountain grass. Oh – and this one was paired with roasted tomatoes.
My favorite cheese in this round was the Nuvola di Pecora!
Finally… Manuela’s plate from Casellula:
In order from left to right the cheeses are:
- Dallenwiler Geisschas – a raw goat’s milk cheese from Dallenwil, Switzerland. Casellula describes it as “meaty & herbaceous”. I’m sorry to say, I really don’t remember what this pairing is! Manuela? Andrew? Help? PS – this cheese is fairly impossible to find anything about on the internet. Interesting.
- Pondhopper made by Keeley’s Cheese Co. – a raw cow’s milk cheese from King Ferry, New York. This cheese is an Irish-style washed-rind cheese (the daughter at the farm is named Keeley and she studied cheese-making in Ireland before coming back to make cheeses at her family’s farm). Casellula describes it as “Yeasty, sour, semi-firm yet creamy.” I remember it being a little pungent and funky, which is typical of washed-rind cheeses – and also those are some of my favorite flavor profiles! This was paired with sunchokes, which were earthy, vegetal and really paired well with the cheese (maybe my favorite pairing of the evening).
- Amarelo de Beira Baixa – a raw sheep and goat mixed milk cheese from Beira Baixa, Portugal. Described by Casellula as “Bluish flavor, spicy.” – it has a semi-soft texture, with small irregular holes and has a slight tangy, sour, bitter flavor. For the US market, it has to be aged sixty days (in Portugal, it’s usually aged more like twenty) – so our version is a little firmer with a bit of a stronger flavor. It’s a pretty yellow color, which is how it gets its name “Amarelo”, which means yellow in Portuguese. This cheese was paired with a pineapple condiment.
Oh yeah, and for dessert, we had the Persille du Beaujolais Chevre – a raw goat’s milk blue cheese from the Rhone Alps in France. “Musty, spicy, classic” are the notes from Casellula. They paired this (for dessert) with chocolate and cherries (in syrup – like a compote of some sort) – and they served us some tawny port to wash it down. RIDIC!!!
Overall, I thought the cheeses and the selection at Casellula were AMAZING! This is the first menu I’ve seen in a while that had a slew of cheeses I’ve never seen or heard of. I am eager to go back and taste some of these again AND taste others! To be honest, I love cheese so much by itself, that I often hesitate to pair it with anything – and I felt that way mostly at Casellula too, though their pairings are so delicious, I enjoyed them immensely on their own. Tomorrow I’m meeting a friend for a cheese plate at Otto – so it’ll be fun to compare experiences. I’m bringing my notebook with me this time!!
Now – for photos of the day:
Photo 304 out of 365 – “Windows and Mirrors”
I took this one in black and white, but when I loaded it, it was in color and I liked it better that way. I like how you can see the reflection of my hands holding the camera in the bottom center of the fame and how you can see the sign post way back in the mirror and then again up closer in the window reflection. Kind of fun.
Photo 305 out of 365 – “Owl Overhead”
I took this at my friend Beck’s house yesterday – it is a funny little owl hanging from the lamp above her kitchen table. It is translucent and I like how the owl was sort of glowing with light from above.
Now I’m off to the second photography lecture at ICP! Whew. ‘Til tomorrow!