Instead of crafting a “board” she made individual cheese plates and conducted a personalized “Cheese 101” for The Man and moi… now I understand The Man’s need for higher education… but as the driving force behind this website… well… I suppose that even I, a higher intelligent being than most humankinds, can stand a little educating as well…
In building a cheese plate, The Lady adheres to two rules: 1. Build your flavor profiles from mild to strong and: 2. “Something old, something new; something stinky and something blue.”
The Lady chose 7 cheeses and built our plate starting at 12 o’clock with a nice little bloomy, Saint Angel, which she picked up at Whole Foods earlier in the week.
Saint Angel, like its sister cheese, Fromager d’Affinois, is made by Fromagier Guilloteau using their unique Ultrafiltration Process. Ultrafiltration removes some of the water from the pasteurized cow’s milk and also concentrates the other components in the milk. Another side benefit is that this process allows the cheese to make more quickly; whereas traditional Bries take 8 weeks to make, Saint Angel can be made in about two weeks. Saint Angel also benefits from the addition of more cream raising its butterfat content to 70% (Fromager d’Affinois’s butterfat content is “only” 60%). Almost a triple creme… but not quite… but all the creamy pleasure that a triple creme offers.
I give Saint Angel 3 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).
It filled the “stinky” requirement, but is not a washed rind: Rolf Beeler’s Tomme Vaudoise. Rolf Beeler is one of Switzerland’s premiere Affineur. With more than 30 years selling and aging cheese, Beeler’s reputation is synonymous with quality cheese, mostly from small batch producers.
Tomme Vaudois is definitely a swooning cheese; The Man temporarily lost his composure and The Lady and I were once more faced with the dilemma of The Man not sharing. I had to paw my share off his plate when I asked for seconds… Tomme Vaudoise, also known as Tomme au lait cru (“raw milk tomme”), is made with raw milk and aged sixty days, which qualifies it for selling in the US.
This is the first legal raw milk bloomy that The Lady and I have had the pleasure of enjoying here at home… a couple have been sneaked in for our tasting and The Lady enjoyed many in Italy at the Slow Food Festival in Bra… this particular baby was young and mild and creamy but at room temperature, it did dominate the aromatic scene. As it ages, it will become more oozy and stinky… when The Lady returns from Ohio, she promises that we will eat the rest… of course she is assuming The Man doesn’t snag it all while she’s away…sheesh…
I give Tomme Vaudoise 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).
The next two cheeses on the plate were gifts from Kerry at Pineland Farms Creamery. Their Bacon Swiss Spread was served on Rutherford and Myer’s 3 Cheese Crackers; sturdy crackers perfect as a serving vessel and yet delicate enough in taste to not get in the way of their purpose, delivering the cheese to the palate.
Bacon and cheese is one of those pairings that can never go wrong and Pineland Farms Creamery, located in New Gloucester, Maine, has taken this pairing, combined the two tastes and created a terrific cheese spread with lots of flavor. Elegant enough for our Cheese Plate and yet friendly enough to enjoy on Super Bowl Sunday.
Pineland Farms Creamery promotes sustainable agriculture while producing artisan cheeses that are hormone and antibiotic free. In addition to their terrific line of cheeses, they also produce fine meats and potatoes… yep… potatoes…
I give Pineland Farms Bacon Swiss Spread, made from their Baby Swiss Cheese, 3 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).
After the Bacon Swiss Spread, we tasted the Sharp 1-Year Cheddar, also from Pineland Farms. Being partial to cheddar, this was a favorite for The Lady and moi… funny how that works out, isn’t it???…
This cheddar is milky and robust without the bitter after taste that some cheddars develop with age. The taste lingered on my palate and had me asking for more. Lucky for us, there was enough for a second meal of mac n cheese which The Lady did for The Man and moi in her new set of casserole dishes, gifts from Beer Enthusiast, Mike Wright and his wife, Heidi.
I give Pineland Farms Creamery Sharp 1-Year Cheddar 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (Cause that’s all I’ve got).
As we made the turn on the cheese plate, the next two cheeses were not strangers here at The Manse and I have already reviewed them: Kaamps Estate’s Klaverkaas and Lincolnshire Poacher. Lincolnshire Poacher… is that a cool name or what? The Lady also used these for second bites: the Klaverkaas went into a baked pancake and the Poacher became part of a “grown-up” grilled cheese paired with the Les Trois Petites Cochons‘ Mousse de Foie de Canard au Porto featured in the middle of this plate (and will be reviewed along with the grilled cheese recipe later today…).
The last cheese, also purchased at Whole Foods, was made by our friends Stephen and Amy at Willapa Hills Farm in Washington State. I had the honor of interviewing Stephen earlier this year, so… getting to taste another of his fine cheeses was an extra treat on New Year’s Day. Big Boy Blue is a deeply veined and robust blue cheese made from cow’s milk and heavy aged for at least seventy-five day. This cheese is salty and assertive; just the way we like our blue cheeses. The Lady served it with a local honey from The Honey Pit, located in Sherwood, Oregon. Big Boy Blue is the big sister to their Little Boy Blue, another favorite around The Manse. The Lady plans to use the remainder of this wedge to make the next Lettuce Wedge Dressing.
In addition to the honey, The Lady garnished the plate with a few walnuts and two preserves from PepperLane, which will be reviewed in the coming days.
To accompany the plate, The Lady served Prosecco… yummers… although I got none… something about knowing what is “best” for me… like I don’t know what is “best” for me… I have got to find a way around that opposable thumb thingie… it seems to give humankinds an inflated vision of who’s in charge around here…
FTC Full Disclosure:
The cheesemakers/manufacturers/brokers/retailers sent me some of thess products, without any obligation on my part, hoping I would review the product/cheese. Please see my About Me Page for details.