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Posts Filed Under The ‘Bleu d’Auvergne’ Category

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

The Nose Knows

A question comes up frequently: how can a cheese smell so strong yet taste so mild? And conversely, some cheeses that have little aroma have a very strong taste. The short answer is that the tongue picks up five flavors only: salt, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami; whereas the nose can detect hundreds of distinct smells. Our nose picks up aromas arising from volatile compounds in the cheese while the actual flavors in the mouth are caused by other chemical attributes. The combination of the aroma and flavor provides the signature “flavor” of the cheese.

One interesting comment I hear refers to the stinky blue cheeses. Many blue cheeses are aromatic but none of them qualify as “stinky.” The “stinky” descriptor applies best to the wash-rind cheeses – those that have the beneficial b. linens bacteria on their rinds. Some of the younger wetter cheeses that have that surface bacteria can be highly aromatic, or “stinky.” A little ammonia can be one of their aromas.

Some people avoid tasting some cheeses because they assume that an intensely aromatic cheese will make for an intensely flavored cheese, one that is over-the-top. For those that risk a nibble of a “stinky” cheese, they are often surprised at how mild-flavored the cheese actually is. The imprints on our cognitive receptors (our noses and tongues) can fool us. They pick up different aspects.

It is interesting to see how cheeses and wines complement each other so well most of the time. The flavors usually balance each other out nicely: the savory note in the cheese balances the fruit in the wine; the more sour cheese harmonizes with the more acid wine; the overall size of the wine matches the overall size of the cheese; etc. At least this is how they usually start off. Everything seems to be working well, then in the finish there is a huge clash.

This happens from time to time. Fortunately the clashes do not occur that often, but when they do the cheese and wine may both suffer because of the bad marriage. Sometimes the cheese simply flattens the wine. When these mismatches occur it is largely due to the confluence of the aromas in the cheese and the wine. They simply do not meld so well. The combination of the aromas can elicit some blends that may remind you of something you would rather forget, or just as often, the conjoined aromas may remind you of a lovely romantic interlude.

Whatever happens, it is usually left up to the nose, or at least to the retro-nasal profiles of the cheese and wine. All the opening acts: appearance, flavor, texture, etc. all these may be in sync, yet the finish is what seals the deal between a cheese and wine. When all these elements are aligned, you experience the “marriages-made-in-heaven” and the matchmaking is a success.

The nose knows.

Max McCalman

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Artisanal Cheese of the Month Club! Month 1

Original post at www.BigAppleNosh.com

Reprinted here in its entirety with permission.

Thanks Serena!

Artisanal 11 Artisanal Cheese of the Month Club! Month 1

I am so excited to share these photos with you! My sister got me a 3-month subscription to Artisanal‘s Cheese of the Month Club for my birthday. My first delivery arrived in July, and I am just giddy with excitement! Cheese is my favorite food in the world (even more than dessert, can you imagine?) – if I could only have one food for the rest of my life, I would choose cheese. I would never tire from the variety of textures, aromas, and flavor profiles; I’ve never met a cheese I didn’t like! As a restaurant devoted entirely to cheese, Artisanal is one of my favorite places to dine in the city. But enough about me, let’s get on with the CHEESE!

Oh, the goodness that was waiting inside this box was tantalizing:

Artisanal 1 Artisanal Cheese of the Month Club! Month 1

I opened up the package, and packed in an insulated bag were four odoriferous bundles of heaven:

Artisanal 2 Artisanal Cheese of the Month Club! Month 1

Also included was a “Cheese Clock” which provided “essential wisdom for selecting, presenting and enjoying Artisanal Premium Cheese!” – well, if there’s any type of wisdom I like it’s cheese wisdom:

Artisanal 3 Artisanal Cheese of the Month Club! Month 1

Finally, Artisanal included a detailed description of each cheese with suggested wine pairings and flavor notes:

Artisanal 4 Artisanal Cheese of the Month Club! Month 1

While this blog unfortunately doesn’t have taste-o-vision, below are photos of each cheese, as well as the included description in the notes. First off, Robiola Nostrano (Mild):

Artisanal 5 Artisanal Cheese of the Month Club! Month 1

“The Robiola Nostrano is produced by Stagionatura Guffanti in northwest Italy. The cheese tastes a little like a Brie but it delivers a luscious flavor that you do not find in the bries we have available to us in the US. The soft unctuous texture is especially pleasing. The rind allows for good air exchange that enhances the overall quality of the cheese. This version is made with all cows’ milk, though occasionally they have one available that has other milks added. The Robiola Nostrano is not a cheese that you will have to worry about having any leftovers; they are so delicious that they are invariable finished properly.”

The texture of this cheese is rich, creamy and luxurious on the tongue. The taste is mild, hence the recommendation to start with this cheese, and what a delightful start it is!

In the Medium category, we have Stella Royale:

Artisanal 6 Artisanal Cheese of the Month Club! Month 1

“Stella Royale is a traditional style of pressed sheep milk cheese from northwest Spain. The milk for this especially nutritious cheese comes from the Churra breed, a native of the region that is able to thrive throughout the extremes of the seasons. The high quality milk produces a cheese with a full-flavored nutty flavor that lingers luxuriously on the palate.”

The Stella holds its own with a drier, slightly crumbly texture and just the lightest hint of a bite. I especially enjoyed it with the tiniest nibble of fig cake – the sweet and salty juxtaposition was very satisfying!

The Bold selection was Tomme Fermiere d’ Alsace:

Artisanal 7 Artisanal Cheese of the Month Club! Month 1

“Tomme Fermiere d’Alsace is a firm, washed-rind (smear) cow’s milk cheese made in the Alsace region of France. We receive this cheese into our caves and continue the maturing process for an additional two to four months, washing each wheel several times with a light Alsatian wine. This dramatically accentuates the lactic flavors and develops long, fruity notes with hints of mushrooms, grass and butter.”

Unlike the Robiola, this cheese has a firmer, more robust texture – however, it is just as creamy and buttery. I tasted notes of the wine wash on the Tomme Fermiere d’Alsace, which I especially appreciated. Heavenly!

To round off the plate, we finish with a Strong selection, the Bleu d’Auvergne:

Artisanal 9 Artisanal Cheese of the Month Club! Month 1

“Bleu d’ Auvergne is a name-protected (Denomination Origine Protected, DOP) cheese from the Auvergne region in south-central France, where it has been made since the middle of the 19th century. Bleu d’Auvergne is made in the traditional manner from cow’s milk and features blue veining throughout. Its moist, sticky rind conceals a soft paste possessing a grassy, herbaceous and (with age) spicy, pungent taste. Here at the Artisanal Premium Center, we allow this cheese to drain until it reaches the creamy consistency we desire. Bleu d’Auvergne pairs well with Alsatian Rieslings and classic dessert wines such as a Sauternes.”

I said I wouldn’t name favorites, but that was before I met Bleu d’Auvergne – if you love blues, you will LOVE this cheese; I sure did! Suuuper creamy, tangy and very “spicy,” this was the perfect specimen of a blue. I dare you to find a better one, I dare you!

And below is a group photo, arranged as suggested by the Cheese Clock guide! Yummmm:

Artisanal 10 Artisanal Cheese of the Month Club! Month 1

I’m waiting for my sister to enjoy the cheese with me this coming weekend, but as you can tell from my descriptions, I’ve sampled a small portion of each – and they are gooooood. I can’t wait to try a heartier portion of each variety this weekend, but my favorite thus far is the Bleu d’Auvergne (couldn’t you tell? haha) – its juxtaposition of creamy texture and tangy bite is heavenly. I’m a lucky girl! I think this may be my favorite “thing-of-the-month” I’ve ever encountered. Now if only there were lifetime subscriptions…

What is your favorite type of cheese?

Serena
bigapplenosh.com