The Lady and The Man stopped in the local Whole Foods to buy some White Truffle Oil and while there, The Lady couldn’t resist checking out the cheese counter. Whole Foods carries many cheeses that The Lady doesn’t carry at her kiosk. She went through the small morsel basket and came up with six small pieces she used to make up a Valentine’s Day Cheese Plate:

Before I begin, let me express a bit of disappointment that two of the pieces had mold under the label side although the dates were well in the distance. We all realize this can happen, but when cheeses are in the $10-$40 a pound range, you’d prefer to know they are freshly wrapped. Also, a couple of the pieces were on the dry side which also indicated more age than the label dates indicated… The Lady simply trimmed the mold away; but had these been larger sizes, she would have returned them. Do NOT hesitate to return cheese to your cheesemonger when you feel its quality is lacking in any manner…

Now for the cheeses we sampled:

Boschetto al Tartufo Il Forteto Coop: this semi-soft cheese from Italy is a mixed-milk cheese using cow and sheep milk and added to it are black truffles. The cheese is both sweet and savory with just a touch of salt. The truffles add a pleasant earthy and garlicky flavor. Neither the cheese nor the truffles over-powered the other and actually were complimentary. The Man was quite taken with this cheese, although he didn’t swoon… ($38.99 a pound)

Next on the plate was Cypress Grove’s Lambchopper: A sheep’s milk Gouda made in Europe exclusively for Mary Keehn’s Cypress Grove. In keeping with Mary’s sense of humor, her website states that this cheese is “Born to be mild”. This was the favorite of the three of us, particularly The Man who actually did swoon while eating this sample. The Lady had to go through the “Sharing is a Virtue” drill… This cheese was sweet and tangy and although mild, the sweetness lingers. This is a cheese that The Lady calls “Kid-friendly”. And it is Vegetarian suitable. ($27.99 a pound)

Tumalo Farm’s Rimrocker: Named after the rocky cliffs that surround Tumalo Farms, this semi-hard cheese is a mixture of organic cow’s milk from a neighboring farm and Tumalo’s own farmstead goats’ milk. As it ages, the flavor becomes more full-bodied. The piece we sampled was a little drier than we felt it should be and The Lady plans to buy another piece at another WF and taste it again before making a final decision on that issue. The flavor was mild with just the right touch of goat tang. ($21.99 a pound)

Leyden with Cumin from Best Uniekaas: Leyden in a Dutch Gouda seasoned with cumin and caraway seeds. In Holland it is called “komijnekaas” which means cumin cheese but due to its popularity in the region around Leiden, it is exported as Leyden. This was our least favorite; none of us cared for the cumin flavor in the cheese even though we love cumin in Mexican dishes… ($12.99 a pound)

Cordobes Mitica: A Merino Sheep milk cheese imported exclusively from Spain for Whole Foods by Mitica. This cheese is similar in taste and texture to Manchego which is a favorite around the manse. Again, this piece was a little drier than we like but the flavor wasn’t diminished by the dryness and with Vintner’s Kitchen’s Port Cherry Marmalade, the taste sensations were delightful. One thought about the Port Cherry Marmalade; a little less liquid would be better. The taste, however, was perfect; just tart enough and just sweet enough. ($16.99 a pound)

Reggianito Argentina from Provvista: The last sample was Parmesan from Argentina. Reggianito, which means “small Reggiano”, is a hard cheese similar to Parmigiano Reggiano and was first made in this South American country by the Italian immigrants who missed the parms of their homeland. This cheese is produced in smaller wheels rather than the huge wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano. It is aged 5-6 months and generally used in cooking or grated on pasta dishes. However, serving it at room temperature and as the last cheese of the plate was a perfect end to our cheese plate. The Man topped this cheese with a little dollop of Vintner’s Kitchen’s Raspberry Mimosa Gelee and then he swooned… ($9.99 a pound)

It’s actually hard to rate this cheese plate when the quality (due to post-cheesemaker care) of a couple of the cheeses is in question… but I’ll go with 3 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got). However, I have to give the Cypress Grove Lambchopper 4 Paws out of 4 Paws…