Friday, February 8, 2013

Cheese 18.01

Along the lines of different wines tasting different and wanting to remember which we liked and disliked, we will be doing the same with cheeses!  Here are the 6 cheese  varieties we tried recently:

Classic Jack Cheese - aka Monterey Jack - An American semi-hard cheese made with Cow's milk, originating in Monterey, CA and developed by the Mexican Franciscan Friars in the 1800s, and first sold commercially by David Jack of California.

Manchego D.O. aged 6 months - made in La Mancha from Spain from the milk of sheep of the Manchega breed.  Offiical Manchego cheese must be aged between 60 days and 2 years.  Firm and compact, buttery texture, a few unevenly distributed air pockets.  Varies from white to ivory-yellow.  Well developed flavor, not too strong, creamy with a slight piquancy, and characteristic sheep milk aftertaste.  Must be produced in various ways - from certain regions, only with whole Manchega sheep milk, pressed in a cylindrical mould that has a maximum height of 12 cm and maximum diameter of 22cm.  Artesano Manchego would be from raw milk, vs. standard Manchego from pasteurized milk.  Varieties include:
- Fresco - aged only 2 weeks but with mild flavor, small quantities, rarely seen outside Spain
- Curado - semi-firm aged 3-6 months, has a sweet nutty flavor
- Viejo - aged 1 year, firm with sharper flavor, peppery, grates well but can be eaten on its own.

Cadi Urgelia - Semicured pressed cheese - cream colored paste with many irregularly shaped eyes distributed throughout.  Natural, slightly moist orange rind.  Soft and creamy texture, sweet and penetrating aroma, very characteristic soft, fruity, and pleasant taste.  Made from pasteurized cow's milk from associated farms in the Pyrenees regions (Alt Urgell - Cerdanya).  

Campo De Montalban - A semi-firm to firm Spanish cheese made from a blend of cow, sheep and goat milk in La Mancha - resembles Manchego in texture and appearance.  Distinguished by its 3 milk blend, comes in waxed barrel-shaped wheels with an embossed herringbone design, similar to manchego.

Valdeon Blue Consorcio De Quesos - Queso de Valdeon - a Spanish blue cheese from Leon - made in Posada de Valdeon in the northeast of the province of Leon, wrapped in sycamore maple or chestnut leaves before being sent to market.  The cheese has a very intense blue flavor, but is not as yellowed or as biting as its cousin Cabrales.  Cow milk, sometimes coat - semi-soft.  Aged 2-3 weeks.  

Herb Brie with hint of Garlic - Brie in general is a soft cow's milk cheese named after Brie, the French region from which it originated.  Must be pasteurized in the US, generally aged 5-6 weeks, soft-ripened.  May be made from whole or semi-skimmed milk.  Curd is obtained by adding rennet to raw milk and heating.  Cast in molds, sometimes with a traditional ladle.  Overripe Brie contains an unpleasant excessive amount of ammonia.  Usually purchased in full wheel or a wheel segment.  Similar to Camembert, also cow's milk.

As far as our verdicts:
Jack - smooth and typical taste
Cadi Urgelia - a "funky" flavor that increased in funk over time - would not re-purchase
Manchego - delicious, like a softer Parmesan - nutty, salty...
Campo de Montalban - also very delicious, similar to Manchego but less sharp.
Brie - typical smooth flavor, the garlic and herb flavors were nice touches.  Unlike the mushroom variety.
Valdeon - very strong blue cheese flavor - semi-spreadable, okay on its own but the flavor is so intense it really needs to be diluted with something else.

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