Thursday, April 25, 2013

Wine 16.03

I am sorry to say that I probably won't be making many more wine posts... reason?  

I have decided it's more efficient and useful to use an app on my phone to keep track of the - Catch - it allows you have a page of pictures and descriptions, which you can scroll through quickly.  Unfortunately, I don't know how to share it without giving editing access to the people I share with, and I would rather not allow random tampering by members of the infinite void that is the interweb.  I may still do segments about particularly awesome wines... of note recently have been:

Sequoia Grove - best Chardonnay I've had in a while, bought three wines from them, including the Chardonnay, the Rebellious Red (blend), and their Syrah Rose.  

Elyse Winery - we were going to visit them, but a link (on their website) to their Yelp reviews shows a TON of people who were really unhappy by the treatment they got at the winery, i.e. snobbery.  We received their Zinfandel in our last gift wine subscription, and it was extremely good, but I didn't want to risk them treating us like inferiors since we are just a couple grad student-aged wine enthusiasts of moderate monetary means...

On that note I'd like to briefly discuss the following: Snobbery in wine country.  The more I go, the more I seem to get a sense that people think you have to go to a small, unknown winery to get the "true" Napa experience.  Y'know what I've found?  The small wineries, while quaint and more private, are often younger wineries that have changed hands numerous times and were bought in the last 30 years by some rich retiree who had always wanted to run a small winery in wine country.  Prior experience in wine making is extremely variable, as most people spent 50+ years in a different occupation.  People may think the bigger, more crowded wineries that have been established in Napa for 50-100 years or more are "touristy" or have sold out, but they are popular for good reasons: they make their wine accessible and have been able to establish a certain consistency in the quality of their wine that only comes with time and experience.  That's not to say all small wineries aren't worth visiting - some are absolute gems - we visited one owned by a retired physician and their winery produced an affordable and very good Cabernet Saugivnon that is still in the wine cooler waiting for some special occasion.  Maybe it's just the fact that Napa is famous worldwide compared to other wine regions.  Either way, those are my latest thoughts on Napa.

Cheese 18.04

Well, I have to say we are starting to reach some of the less-enjoyable cheeses now, it would seem -

Westcombe Farmhouse Cheddar - Borough Market - a drier cheddar, but not particularly flavorful or interesting.

Berliner - The best of this bunch, but still a mild cheese.  Hard cheese.

Brillat Savarin Delin - a soft cheese, similar to Brie and St. Angel but not as flavorful/salty and the rind has that typical fungal "Brie" characteristic.  All this one did was make me miss St. Angel.

P'tit Basque - similar to Manchego but seems a little drier, a little less fat, a little less salt, a lot more rind, so it's harder to get a good bite of it.  Overall, not better than Manchego.

Mountain Gorgonzola - blue cheese, medium-soft - you can spread it if you try hard, the blue is not overpowering.  I think it has a good place in combination with crackers or bread, but Kit disagrees and thinks it is just not that flavorful, at least not for a blue.

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So does this mean we are at the end of our cheese tasting saga?  I would disagree on that - but we are going to revisit some of our favorites.  On that note, I stopped at Safeway for some lettuce for salads and thought I'd check their cheese section.  As luck would have it, they have some of our favorites, so I got a few of them:

Manchego
Aged Irish Cheddar
Cave Aged Grueyere
Goat Cheese Brie (I generally like Brie and they didn't have St. Angel so I got this to see how it compares)


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Since we don't particularly like the cheeses we recently got, I thought we should have a few of the ones we do like to mix in on the cheese plates.  We also recently stocked huge amounts on our wine list!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Cheese 18.03

A lot of cheese here, this is really more a combination of two different ones because I took a picture for one but not the second set of cheese.

St Angel Triple Cream Brie - Extremely creamy and even the rind gave great flavor - unlike typical brie cheeses which have a 'funky' rind.  Almost like butter except cheese.  Would definitely get again.  See previous entry for discussion of brie.  Pasteurized.

Cotswold - Kit liked it more than I did, but it is a very strong flavor and the onion completely permeates the cotswald flavor.  Cotswold is a variety of Gloucester cheese, but blended with spring onions and chives.  Gloucester cheese is a semi hard cheese from England, aged 36 weeks, and made only with the milk of once near-extinct Gloucester cattle in the county of Gloucestershire.  There are two kinds of Gloucestershire - Single Gloucester and Double Gloucester.  Single Gloucester is more crumbly, lighter textured, less fat.  Double Gloucester is aged for longer, and is firmer and has a stronger more savory flavor.  I'm curious what Gloucester is like.  Unpasteurized.

Vintage Irish Cheddar (White) - Matured for at least 12 months, continually graded, aged for 3-6 months and encased in a black wax rind to differentiate it from other less-aged and graded cheeses.  Notable for rich, round, buttery flavor and firm smooth body.  Very delicious and texture a mix of creamy and grainy.  Would definitely get again.  Pasteurized.

Aged Jack - Flavor impressions: mild, not very impressive, not better than soft Jack - actually seemed to have less flavor.  Dry.  See previous entry for discussion of (Monterey) Jack.  Pasteurized.

Wensleydale - Produced in Wensleydale, New Yorkshire, England.  Supple crumbly flavor, moist texture, compared to a young Caerphilly.  First made by French Cistercian monks from Roquefort, and it is made from cows or sheep.  Pasteurized, aged 3-6 months, medium texture and crumbly.  We didn't much like the rind, and the flavor was average.

Humbolt Fog - a goat milk cheese made by Cypress Grove Chevre, of Arcata, California in Humboldt county - named for the local ocean fog that rolls in from Humboldt bay.  Mild-ripened cheese with a central line of edible ash, similar to Morbier.  It has a bloomy mold exterior, resulting in a core of fresh goat cheese surrounded by a runny shell.  Cheese is light, creamy, but with a mildly acidic stronger flavor near the rind.  Aged 60 days, pasteurized.


Pecorino Toscano Reserva - Made from ewe's milk on the island of Sardinia, this is produced in Tuscany.  The third most produced cheese in Italy, after Pecorino Romano (number 1), and Pecorino Sardo (number 2).  Pasteurized, prepared with full cream, should be aged at minimum 12 days but usually 4 months to allow adequate hardening.

Pecorino Romano - Made from ewe's milk on the island of Sardinia, one of the oldest cheeses in Italy, was even a staple for Roman legionnaires.  Has a distinctive aroma, pleasantly sharp, and very salty - in my taste that sharpness almost tasted like pepper.  A hard cheese, flaky.  Pasteurized.

Asiago Fresco - Italian cow's milk cheese, assumes different texture depending on aging.  A slightly softer flavor than Parmesan, from the town of Asiago in Veneto, Trentino Italy.  Not pasteurized.  Hard cheese, but  not dry.  Salted and pressed into a mold.

Brigante - Sheep's milk cheese from Sardinia.  It is a pecorino style cheese, semi-soft texture, matured for about 3 weeks, mild and creamy.