October 22, 2014

This Cheese Doesn't Suck: Meule de Savoie

    Today is all about another French cheese, the raw cow's milk Meule de Savoie by Herve Mons.  Meaning (also literally) "Windmill of Savoie", it is made high up in mountainous Savoie in the Rhone-Alpes region.  I have to say one of the many things I love about French cheese is that delightful, conversational way they name their cheeses.  Not content to name cheese simply after where they're made, oh no.  
    This cheese has all the great hallmarks of a good alpine style.  Creamy uniform paste, pale almond color, thick woodsy natural rind, and made in wheels the size of a coffee table.  Granted by the time we receive them at the shop the Meule has been cut down for us into a more manageable wedge (I know, I know, losing serious cred for receiving a pre-cut wheel).  
    The Board and Wire has already discussed some of the magic of Meule de Savoie in an earlier post in which I concocted a fabulous grilled cheese with it and various "leavin's" in my fridge.  Which shows that if you have a lump of some delicious cheese you can probably make just about anything from stuff hanging about near your crisper.  This time Meule de Savoie is just shining away, all on its own, on my cheese board today.  It's almost meditative to break out a single piece of cheese, let it come to room temperature, and slowly, carefully taste it.  Catching all of its flavor profiles and intricacies of texture. 
    The Meule, like I said above, already has the visual earmarks of an alpine cheese.  It does not disappoint once it goes in your face.  The flavor is subtle, but punchy, with that high singing acidity reminiscent of a young Gruyere.  Compound butter, raw hazelnut, and a good dose of toasted hay round out the palate.  The texture has a classically creamy, toothsome grit to it.  Very much what I would expect from a lightly aged high mountain cheese.  Meule de Savoie really is ideal for slapping onto a Raclette grill and greedily scraping off ribbons of molten cheese onto new potatoes.  Pair this all up with a great I.P.A. or go nuts and try it with Gewurztraminer.  
     

October 20, 2014

This Cheese Doesn't Suck: Pave du Nord

    Pave du Nord is a little known cheese from the north of France.  Translating literally to "Paving Stone of the North", Pave du Nord is formally a working man's cheese.  The texture of this raw cow's milk cheese is most commonly hard, crisp, and flaky.  Quite like the famous aged Goudas of Holland or its fellow countryman, Mimolette.  In fact the most common comparison made to the characteristics of Pave du Nord is to Mimolette.  
    It's firm texture playing up flavors of dry earthy cave, minerals, and brown butter.  However my most recent encounter with Pave du Nord completely rocked everything I know about the cheese.  See, I've only every encountered it in all of it's uber aged glory (see above descriptions).  
    This time when we broke into our first loaf of the year, eyes glistening in anticipation, cheese knives poised and all that, we were shocked (shocked I tell you!) to find a supple, yielding, springy cheese.  What kind of chicanery was this? It was clearly Pave du Nord, alright.  But, well, a rather young loaf it seemed.  Never the less we dug in and all eye brows shot right past our hairlines.  
    "Baby" Pave du Nord was seriously excellent!  That supple paste went straight to cream under the tooth.  New bright, light butter flavors shone through right away and were quickly balanced out by that familiar mineral punch.  Also new were the vegetal green pepper and dry legume notes that came wafting in with the rest.  To wrap up the decidedly complex cheese was a delightful astringency that seemed to clear away any heaviness of flavor that lingered behind.  If you ever get your hands on young Pave du Nord pair it up with a good Sauvignon Blanc or a well balanced Petite Syrah.  Dang.

October 02, 2014

Pecorino Toscano + Truffle Honey

    Pecorino Toscano is a sort of kinder, matching-shoes-and-purse, prim cousin to Pecorino Romano's bombastic, big-hair, loud-mouth flavor.  Hailing from the lush farmland of Tuscany, Pecorino Toscano is, however, exceedingly rich with subtle flavor.  
  

    Made from 100% sheep's milk it has the oily crumble that one expects from Italian pecorino's.  Its flavor profile has a distinct mineral-y quality, with hints of clotted cream, fresh hazelnut, clean animal.   
    Much moister in texture than Romano means that the slick olive oil qualities of the paste are much smoother and more even across the palate.  Drizzle this cheese with truffle honey (as I did here).  I guarantee it tastes just like a glamorous Autumn picnic in the Italian countryside.