Montmartre and cheese and lots of culture

Glorious glorious spring break number 2! The sun was smiling down on all of Paris during our trip, the jardin de Luxembourg was brimming with life and green expanses, and the jambon gruyère baguettes were croquant and cremeux. We started off our first day in Montmartre wandering, seeing the beautiful cobblestone streets that will me manque oh-so-terribly when I return to the US. After looping around the quartier, we ended up at the Fromagerie Quatrehomme in the 18th arrondissement. The offshoot of Marie Quatrehomme’s original shop on the Rue de Sèvres, it is a cave of quite some magic. quatrehomme

I walked in and heard some American tourists asking if the camembert was strong or what a good tasting cheese was and I felt immediately thankful not to be wearing a red flag of cheese/France unknowledge… I set out to look for the house specialty of 30 month aged Comté and was swept away by the beauties of Valençay and Banon on the other side of the shop. Because we were only eating for two, I picked up the Comté and Valençay and VOILÀ the resulting cheese plate/crappy hostel lights

hostel

The Comté… In fact I read about this one on another food lover’s blog and like that was some good advice. Like SUCH A FUN CHEESE. As you can see in the photo above with the big yellow hunk, I cut it into thin tranches, watching the crystals shave off onto the plate and feeling l’eau dans la bouche. Almost opaque in spots, you can tell that this is a cheese that has seen things. I had immediate tastes of savory and garlic and such a pleasing crunch in some spots. Then there was a flavor development into the realm of a well-stocked plate of spaghetti bolognese; my mouth was left with a comprehension of age and onions. Absolute, hands-down, undeniably the best comté that my life has ever had. Thank you and to whoever is reading, I EXHORT you to search out and aged comté of this caliber. Preferably at this shop.

Also interesting note: if a comté is scored at less than 12/20 overall by the french cheese police, it cannot be called comté and is instead sold as gruyère in France! Cheese hierarchy exists = woah conspiracy theories abound.

The Valençay, seen in the background behind the Comté, was a calmer addition to the plate. I felt/tasted/saw a beautiful ivory interior, dry texture in a clean and cool way, and flavors reminiscent of pretzel flavored salt. I had really been hankering to try it because it has a cool charcoal-covered exterior and comes in a cool 3D trapezoid shape (legend has it that it enraged Napoleon so he cut off the top and voilà we have the lasting shape to this day). I wasn’t as blown away by the Valençay as I have been recently with other unpasteurised chèvres; I think I really like them moelleux and grassy and fresh or pungent, dry, and peppery almost. Hmm particular tastes.

K so then it was out of Paris and into the South, where we visited the beautiful towns of Dax, Labatut, Bayonne, Biarritz, and St. Jean de Luz. It was in St. Jean de Luz that we stopped at Maison Adam, a purveyor of fine local goods including ham, cheese, pastries, dairy products, and pepper. The front of the store is an invitation to culinary whimsy and high quality, complete with a wall of aged piment d’espelette (spicy delicious peppers that are the local speciality of Bayonne). I also bought a bottle of piment d’espelette olive oil and sel de piment and I am oh-so-excited to spice up my cuisine back in ‘murca. photo(21)

In the shop I was delighted to see a wall full of aged sheep’s cheeses; I picked up a wedge of “brebis fermier” which is prets much the run-of-the-mill sheep’s cheese of the region (and by run-of-the-mill I mean delicious and artisanal and delightful) and also a wedge of REAL Ossau-Iraty to bring back to the states with me because that dank is worth its weight in gold in my palate (and by worth its weight in gold I mean 32.60 euros/kg haha). adambrebis

So in Biarritz later that night, after our beautiful apéro of Jurançon sec and jambon de bayonne, I sliced up my recent purchase and ate some tranches watching abstract short-films on an artsy independent channel. I was more engrossed with my cheese and quite easily because 1) there was a strong sheep dairy taste all throughout my mouth and 2) more fun flavors than I had anticipated! The cheese was medium firm and yielding, grainy in a delightfully-crystal-hinting manner. The tastes started off tight and pert, like a young gruyère, but developed into fuzzy piquant multi-faceted protein flavor. Weird? Not if you were to taste it. What was tho interesting was that although yes the rind was drier and earthier than the interior of the wedge, there was a distinct hint of blue/ammonia along the exterior. The flavors changed cleanly and distinctly and I thoroughly enjoyed the taste transitions. Good stuff Brebis Fermier. You can see the artfully arranged slices below; I ate them all.photo(16)

Also in St. Jean de Luz I was given a little slice/sample of Fromage Mixte = sheep and cow milk; I found it to remind me of a creamy monterey jack with hints of sheep’s dairy. Lighter in color and softer in hold as well. Moyenne in flavor/quality but would make a good mac and cheese or melted on top of chili mmm the husky sheep scent would make a crowd go wild. Until next time then, cheese lovers!

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Avenues of Cheese

No, I have not eaten anything new in the past 24 hours (with regards to cheese of course). Yes, I still want to post things on the blog because the exploration of cheese is slowly and surely taking over my romantic soul. Yes, I do want to move back to France as soon as I have my bachelor’s and work at a crèmerie somewhere in the nearby countryside and speak French with the locals and live a calm, different culture. Being here in France is really just like second life to me now – I take for granted all the magic that is here and I know it, so coming back is a necessity. Why not do something absolutely novelesque in my young years when I can afford to take advantage of my no responsibilities/obligations/connections? Aka yeahhhhh

Anyway I was driving back from a beach day in Préfailles (beautiful beautiful rocky savage beaches and seafooooood) when I realized there are plenty of cheese-related tidbits that I can be passing on to the 2.3 readers of this blog!  So Tidbit 1: As you may know, I briefly changed the name “cheeseisgod” to “Sweet Dreams Are Made of Cheese” before I realized that the domain name itself didn’t change and that was confusing blah blah but nevertheless this is a great little cheese/a capella rendition of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” by the Eurythmics: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25RuXkkM9T0

Like vraiment lol; 37 seconds of cheese dedicated singing = something I am toats down with. Then comes Tidbit 2: You can get a free wisconsin cheese guide/poster by following this link and just entering your address! http://www.eatwisconsincheese.com/cheese/requestguide.aspx … I just received mine a couple of days ago and it has about 30 different varieties on it and at the very least like its a piece of free paper with cheese to look at. I saw this offer on another cheese blog about 3 months ago so pay it forward friends!

Tidbit 3: Camembert-pomme tartelettes! We ate these last saturday for dinner and mehhh I had a Baraka burger (dirtiest burger in Nantes… quarter pounder cheeseburger with HASH BROWNS LIKE WHUTTT) right before dinner so was not too too peaked but still managed to get one tartetlette in the belly. If I had been hungrier like my oh my so much consumption! Unfortunately I did not take a picture of ours but this is a prets good approximation (thanks Google images (does that count as a citation/oops this is a parentheses in a parentheses)) of what the magic was. Fondante, strong like camembert, buttery, sucré, oooooh you don’t even know if it’s a dessert or plat principal. I strongly suggest you give this a try, and most of the online recipes seemed like similar versions enough to what I had. Even if you don’t try it, at least you know it exists!

Tidbit 4: Camembert Chantilly! Like seriously this is something that would be “rien n’est plus simple à faire” according to the wise words of my wise host father Daniel. You can find the recipe here: http://rusticooking.over-blog.com/article-pommes-caramalisees-a-la-chantilly-de-camembert-115514680.html … I will be making this as soon as I am back in the states and camembert me manque tellement and as this will be in a chantilly form I don’t necessarily need some D’Isigny Sainte Mère camembert to calm my palate. By really world?? Camembert chantilly? I think this could go with buttermilk gaufres or chocolate blueberry pancakes? Savory profiteroles? Shooters with chantilly on top?? Ooohoo vraiment avenues of cheese.

Tidbit 5: Cheese tasting poster with 16 principal flavors My friend Charlie who is a chem major and tryna get his masters in food science so he can do that the rest of his life posted this on my wall and I thank him dearly. I wasn’t sure if I agreed entirely with the distinctions, but then I’m the one with the palate, not the doctorate in food science. http://www.popsci.com/files/cheese-poster.png?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=pulsenews Here you can see what cheeses are related to each other, what flavor traits they have in common, and how much. I find it pretty american-centric, but at least 6 french cheeses are represented so good stuff. At the very least its amusing to see such a thorough definition of what tastes are present.

Okay so yes enjoy the tidbits, I leave for Paris in the morning where I hope to visit the legendary shops of Quatrehomme and Androuet and Laurent and ohhhh can’t even wait. A plus!

 

“Lazy days” don’t exist in the french countryside

And thank goodness! Today brought tours of summer homes, hillsides full of green, sunlight through the clouds of plush, and honest meal-times. We nommed on grilled chicken breasts à la campagne, garlic crème fraîche à la campagne, fire-roasted potatoes à la campagne, radishes à la campagne, pain rustique à la campagne, éclairs à la campagne, rosé à la campagne, white wine à la campagne, kir à la campagne, cab sauvignon à la campagne, and of course of course of course a cheese course à la campagne. Et voilà. cheese à la campagne

First we have our hunk of beaufort in the upper left of the plate (aka the only thing that doesn’t look like a raisined chèvre ball). This comes from the Savoie region and is generally just used in Fondue Savoyarde because it’s so damn unctuous and buttery and expensive too so people like to think like they’re helping their wallets and cholesterol levels by masking it among other hard mountain cheeses but I say NOT HERE BEAUFORT! NOT IN MY COUNTRY HOUSE! So needless to say we nommed gooood on this wedgy; le beaufort is medium-hard like de udda mountain cheeses and shared some similar taste characteristics. Me myself moi I tasted a sharp/pointy creaminess, savory butter notes, and pungent (like half of the cheeses I describe) butteriness that gave it a different dimension than other hardish cheeses like comté or bethmale or gruyère. Needless to say good stuff and I think that would make a fine grilled cheese with a sweet cranberry-peppercorn rub on the bread because I do firmly believe that beaufort has enough taste and charisma to stand up to a griddle, heat, and other strong flavors.

Then I ate little bits of both of the chèvre balls (one with golden raisins as I have previously described and one with reg raisins) and interestingly enough the reg raisin had tastes of molasses and umami so like intriguing. I was rill rill full after having had my meal “à la campagne” so I didn’t bouffe too hard on the chèvres. Here in France it’s really another day another chèvre which is not to say du tout that I take that for granted or think that chèvre is “common” because simply not true.

Coupla days ago we also started eating a new, mild friend named Fleur d’Aunis. Soft and havarti-like in consistency and texture, it hints at being spreadable without being runny. As the rind is orange and like def not just a pâte fleuri we would say that this cheese is of the washed-rind persuasion. Nutty, creamy, pretty tame on the flavor scale, it is nevertheless a cheese to have on hand for a party or cheese tray or a night alone because after eating a wedge like that you’ll definitely know that something is in da tummy. K ciao I’m off to Paris and I have much much plans to see the most famous fromageries and really just any and every fleur d'aunisfromagerie I can find so in a couple of days there will be a goldmine of Parisian treasures! Who knows, maybe I’ll even go David Lebowitz on all y’all and find some brie noir and love it/hate it/who knows but PARISIAN FROMAGERIES BE STILL MY HEART lata playas.

Picnics and Surprises

This week was tough because I had to force myself to stay away from the fromagerie because in fact I found a second in centre-ville Nantes called “Fromagerie Lecoq” which is fun and a good alternative to Beillevaire but unfortch only open 9:30-12:30 and 15:30-18:30 so kinda not convenient whatsoever for lunch time shenanigans :/ But litrally so easy to drop 10+ euros at the fromagerie aka just a moitié wedge of some wheel cheese and then a little chèvre dropping or something of the sort. The expenses this week have come to just about 20 euros on cheese and gosh darn its not even thursday. Not mad though, who would ever be mad about spending more money on cheese than actual victual food stuffs NOT ME!

We started this week off with a trip to Fromagerie Lecoq that was eagerly anticipated on monday but had to wait until Tuesday so in the meantime we contented ourselves with a regular “pâte a tartiner” like rondelé or boursin, this time think it’s croisé and au poivre. Good stuff with my pain aux céreales and saucisson au porc. But then tuesday came and the second thing of that day was trip to the fromagerie; different smelsalersls, more spicy and earthy than the dairy, cool feel of Beillevaire. When I was there I picked up two cheeses, and the first to be eaten back at IES was the strong gold Salers. It really reminds me of a gold ingot, but in this case a crumbly-hard-until-it-yields-in-your-mouth-golden-paste of a precious metal. My friend Blair tried a little morsel and said that it felt “sparkly” on the tongue and “old tasting but not in a bad way” which I toats empathize with. I had previously described the aged cantal as fuzzy and def detected the same feeling in this old grump of a 9 month old semi-hard cheese. Like I said, the salers reminded me of a cantal, but of a less intense, more mellowed/molasses-y varietal. Crystallized, piquant, sweet-dairy tasting, salty, acidic with no burn, and ending with a flash of pepper. As I worked my way to the outside, I noted that the interior of the wedge had a more buttery veneer to the taste than the outer-regions. Maybe less oxidization = fresher tasting? Good stuff, that salers.

Then not 3 minutes later the unveiling of the quiet, cheerful giant: CABECOU (cabécou)!! Friends, friends, let me tell you… I should have put a quarter in the pic for a size comparison, but the entire little poop is just about 3 centimeters in diameter; not a lot of material to work with! The rind you see is what really fascinated me. As a “croute naturel” (I think) cheese, the rind is soft and surrounds an entirely different material. The rind itself is soft cabécouflavorful and not chalky and reminds me of pie dough – like you could probably pop this in the over and tell someone you “en crout-ed” it and they would toats believe you because the rind is so phenoms. Anyway then I actually at the cheese and my oh my pungent, savory, hinting (just mildly) at rancid, I felt heady flavors with a tang at the beginning and then age in the form of moldy and then cream at the end. That was what was rilll gr8 – the aftertaste that really lingered of fresh whole milk, even cream. The moisture and discrete flavors, combined with the creaminess and tang associated with pungence, made this a palatable but altogether new friend. Thanks Lecoq!

K so then it was today and Brett had to supply the friends with cheese for the picnic because enfinnnn it was a beautiful day in Nantes that called for cheese, muscadet, crusty bageuttes, and vegetable entrées. I went to Beillevaire and said “Madame, I am looking for 2 cheese for a picnic. One soft, moist, calm, but surprising; the other strong, salty, hard, formidable, and full of taste” and what I got was quite an amazing match to what I described. We first nommed on the miracle that is Ginestarié (like what is that name??) that is visible just to the left. ginestariéThis chèvre has the thinnest-most-not-real rind/croute ever, and the whiter sections in the photo of the cheese are where the rind actualz melted onto the Beillevaire wrapping. Like moelleux or WHAT. And Madame Beillevaire was right; I first had a little morceau of the Ginestarié and my oh my flavors of lasagné, lemony tang, grassy earth, soft bedding of pepper, and soft velour of ricotta. Those flavors and the glistening texture made this actually cold tasting – my fellow picnickers Carol and Holly can gladly corroborate that farfetched conlcusion. But yes, a surprising, refreshing, cool-feeling chèvre that made the picnic. This is a definite re-buy. If all y’all can find some of this in the rest of the world, doooot. Except not if it’s wrapped in plastic and suffocating because my new philosophy I developed today says that “its better to spend more for a little good quality cheese, even if one doesn’t like it, than to spend less on bad quality cheese because then you’re really just stuck with rotten dairy.” One day I’ll refine that quote but y’all will recognize it from the formative days.

And last but not least was the fun times of L’Etivaz that comes from the beautiful nation of Sweeeeserland. L'etivazThe cheese actually started sweating in the picnic hot afternoon sun, so we got to see a demonstration of how much liquid moisture fat they is in some good quality dank. This cheese is the strong salty one that I asked for, and umami came to mind for taste: roasted nuts, pork, warm bitterness, even seafoody. Actually all of these flavors occurring in different parts of my mouth at different times; such a merveille. The crumbles happened with the cheese and so when we ate it it felt grainy in an ephemeral way such that the cheese became a feeling and the feeling became a flavor and my oh my it is too late to be writing about cheese. Sorry for the ramblings and elusive descriptions. Good stuff abound and goood stuff to come!

One time I ate every cheese

A weekend ago I had a picnic in a castle’s ramparts with friends, rosé, red wine, homemade quiche, veggie appetizers, and 2 cheese friends. I wanted to write about them but I waited (maybe foolishly) until 5 days and 3 cheese later. Maybe bad idea but picnic = not bad idea and too much cheese in a blog post = not possible. So lets get down to business chronologically.

First off, we have our new acquaintance and close friend Brillat-Savarin. Take a good looksie. brillatsavarinBrainy and veiny, would someone choose to eat dis normalement? Answer= yes I would and yes i did. With an inside whiter than the outside (tankfurry..), I had feelings of velvety dryness, sensations of holistic mold, and a supportive tang to the taste. I would even dare to say that my tongue found a hint of fish curry in the B.S (haha). Maybe even some peanuts to go along with the thai theme! Overall a yum. Maketh the tasteth budeth happeth.

then next we tried iddle biddle baby Crottin des Alpines. crottindesalpinesOmg brainy and veiny again! Quelle coincidence! But this goat cheese was a different creature entirely. I asked for the “moelleux” instead of “plus sec” so our relatively young C.d.A was moist and yielding. Cutting through the rind was intensely facile, and my mouth brought to mind savory definitions, goaty origins, and feelings of frozen velour. Not your errday chèvre by any means. There are plusieurs types de Crottin so if you spot an opportunity to taste, by all means get that! But make sure you talk well with your cheesemonger before to figure out what your tastes gon be like. Or just have a surprise but still talk with your cheesemonger to 1) talk with a cheesemonger 2) talk about crottin 3) make sure that you’re getting some good dank

And then there was the rocamadour. Soft, ingratiating, goaty, and multi-textured, we had first the rocamadour in a dish called aumonières that you see here regaling on a plateaumoniere in the dining room all wrapped up in pâte brisée and just a lil brulée-d. All tressed in ham and wrapper, I got a gooey ooey dinner taste. And then o la vache I had a wedgy of rocamadour after the deeenner. Below I think you can see bien a round of rocamadour (so coot and lil ri8???) and then its counterpart rocamadourof partly eaten. I had equally rocamadourcutgood times with each. So jenky of design status but I’m not a wordpress master ehhhh but sorry you’ll have to guess what exactly im talking bout.

Then nexttt we have chèvre au mangue but I’m not gonna write bout dat bcuz its just creamy mmm with mangos and tropical fruits such as passion fruit all lined up around dat cremeux exterior. Good simple crowd pleaser without selling out – not easy to do. And then enfin we have the St. Félicien round 2. Still as creamy and droopy as before, still in a cute little wooden hamper, but this time around I have a whole new philosophy of cheese which is eat as much as you need to detect all the nuances and complexities of what exact dairy product you are sensing. And i mean exact as in respect the varieties in production and instruct your palate in what you think hope know you are tasting. stfelicienstcolombeMan brainy again! We are all about brainy cheese this post. But once you cut into dat gyri-filled rind you are rewarded with a supple nest of aged cream. Distant, pungent, coulante, and so close to a jar of cream, this St. Félicien is not to be taken lightly. Aged to youth, packaged up, and sent to my house, the SF gave my taste buds and mouth sensors a roller coaster in how the heck is there so much flavor in a protein-bound liquid? INEXPLICABLE. Talk to you next time.

 

 

From age to age…

Happy hump day everyone! We’ve made it through monday, tuesday, and most of wednesday consequently a sensory vacation is much deserved. My mid-meal smileysaucissonsandwich of pork sausage and butter says “be happy you have food to eat.”  This iddle sandwich with happy sausage features was a great way to finish the day. The sausage was generous, doux, softly meaty, strong but yielding, balanced pork-ly, and with subtly sweet pepper colors. High quality stuff right there aka better than the $1.30 chorizo I buy at carrefour city – this sausage (which is not cheese I realise and this blog is not called sausageisgood because ehhhh) was refined, not overly oily or fatty, and did not remind me of anything Upton Sinclair ever wrote about. Also this sandwich came after several of a pâté persuasion; I had a good carnivorous time with these toasts such as the pâté heated by the toast turned into a velvety dynamo of melty flavor. Hints of sweet onion too. Very fine texture, made even more fine by the fact that it’s melted pâté on pain rustique mmmm I love putting french words into english sentences.

Anyway then also last night I had a tasting feast to myself. I got home a little late for dinner because I had been clear across the city getting a hair cut from the host mother of one of my fellow study abroad students. Hence I walk in the door and this beauty is a-waiting me on the kitchen table (thanks Daniel for cheese conquering this weekend):plateHere we have cantal vieux (big yellow block), époisses (orange wavy round), cranberry chèvre (looks like cranberries stuck on a chèvre ball), camembert (duhh the camembert), and chèvre tropical (the orange chèvre ball – mango, papaya, and apricot – still haven’t tried it but I’m excited for pure simple indulgence). I set myself to work with my salad entrée and plat principal of pâté and sausage sandwich as described in the earlier paragraph. I got through those courses with immense and mounting anticipation for the dairy fantasies that awaited me, all the while shooting glances and imagining what tastes were in store for my tongue buddies. When the time came, I started with the cantal vieux. Aged over a year, the rind is actually blackened by oxidization and mold has started to appear in the center of the cheese. Daniel had told me that the cantal jeune (young) and cantal vieux (old) are entirely different cheeses and yes I do concur. cantalvieuxI carved off a little of the interior corner and inspected my gold nugget. Strong dairy parmesan scent, firm grasp, texture is almost crystalline with flaky layers. I spotted a deep cream color that could even be mistaken for butter. The cheese crumbled in my mouth and I tasted an instant acidity and felt a warm fuzziness spread all around my tongue and mouth. There were seafood notes (weird yes but curious enough in a small portion to be interesting and not offputting) and warm peppery senses. Paired with the cab sauv on the table was a gift from another world – the strong savory cheesiness melted away the tannins and lushness of the wine. MMM. After a couple more bites the cantal tasted like a sharp, piquant white cheddar.

Then I had another morcel the day after and I tasted more floral fragantness (very faintly o’ course, kinda farfetched) and fuzziness. I had a bit of the rind and what surprised me was the major differences between the rind and the interior: the exterior was dry crumbly (fat all oxidized?), salty, roundly fishy taste, and had none of that fuzz that was so present earlier. I definitely prefer the interior but it was refreshing for research’s sake to understand the whole of the cheese, the context of its existence.

And shnowwwwww we hath arrived at the époisses. Époisses époisses époisses époisses! Having never heard of this cheese before, I was eager beaver to get my sampling started. Cutting the cheese (hehe) I saw the ivory crumbly paste in the center surrounded by a gooier, opaque beige. The smokey orange rind with gyri let reminded me of brains like langres (which I still gotta eat with some brandy.) I smelled cheese, mildewy and acrid. époissesTHEN I PUT THE CHEESE IN MY MOUTH. All I could think of was “creamy creamy almost bitter hinting at vegetation and the color green.” There was a lingering fermented note with almost bitterness associated. I felt a faint ammonia taste that was not at all unpleasant but reminiscent of brie although that is a soft-ripened cheese and the époisses is washed-rind (usually with brandy yurmmmm). The round, mellow, interacting/connected flavors of sweet cream and walnuts were foremost in my taste organs. I enjoyed this cheese with a muscadet wine but wikipedia said that a sauternes (verrrr sweet) would be very pleasant and I can empathize completely. The acidity of red would do no good for mr. époisses. Interestingly enough, I though of mac and cheese when eating this guy. Albeit high-quality mac and cheese like trader joes white cheddar shells and cheese so phewww no worries. Day 2 of eating époisses showed me continued instanes of tangy, grassy, savory, and pungent flavor characteristics that were heartily welcomed back. Full disclosure: époisses may be my new favorite cheese (sorry morbier/taleggio/paprika chèvre from cypress grove/étorki/cougar gold).

This is such a long post sorry (cept not sorry because these are my thoughts and like take em or leave em but preferrably take em because then maybe you’ll know more about cheese or like it more or want to get in touch with your local creamery and get into some serious déguster-ing) BUT it must be said that these cheese situation last night was one of the most sensory fulfilling tasting experiences of my life. I spent a long time on just a little bit of cheese, and I think I understand that what is amazing about cheese isn’t the creamy notes or high fat content or meltability or complement on so many sandwiches but rather that there is such a variety of detectable flavors. What other food brings to mind meat, fruit, nuts, seafood, dairy, dessert, even chemicals? Cheese can be a door to so many other experiences and its just a hunk of altered dairy. Earlier during my stay in france, I would take a bunch of strong cheese and eat it all fast because you can do that with milder, simple cheeses like gouda or cheddar or havarti (not that those are any less valid – I would never denounce havarti) and not really have a great time with the strong cheese I was consuming (in some cases imbibing…) Maybe i’m just a high-brow snob now but for me the challenge of strong cheese and the spectrum of surprises they contain is exhilarating. The age of a cheese, the method of production, the chemicals or ash or herbs introduced, the humidity of affinage climate, etc etc all have wild and sometimes unpredictable effects on the pot of cared-for milk. I think my love for cheese is akin to my love for pokémon as a younger Brett – gotta catch em all but really gotta eat em all.