Posted April 11, 2008 in Cheese
ENO focuses on several factors to determine how we select what we serve. Obviously, flavor being first and foremost. A certain cheese may be considered one of the “world’s finest,” but if the flavor or aroma is too strong the average American palette won’t go for it. Another factor is whether a cheese is pasteurized or un-pasteurized. If you’ve ever had un-pasteurized milk you know it has much more flavor than pasteurized, and the same goes for cheese. Finally, we take into consideration whether a cheese is organic or not, obviously preferring organic.
One of my personal favorite cheeses is Caprino Cremoso , which is from the Piedmont region of Italy. This four ounce wheel of goat cheese has a light and fluffy texture, and its flavor is infused with a small amount of truffles from Alba. Pair this cheese with a Fantinel Prosecco and enjoy.
Queso de Valdeon tops my list for blues. This Spanish blue cheese is wrapped in grape leaves which impart some of their tannic flavor into the cheese. There are ample amounts of blue veining in this cheese, showing you that this one is only for the true blue lovers. This blue pairs nicely with a glass of Trouchard Syrah.
I consider Fiscalini Bandage Cheddar to be the best cheddar in America. It is a true English farmhouse-style cheddar. Farmhouse is also a very important term when selecting cheeses. It is the cheese world’s equivalent to an estate bottled wine. This means that the cheese maker is in charge of the process from beginning to end. A glass of Far Niente Chardonnay is a wonderful complement.
Explorateur may be the most decadent, rich, smooth, creamy and sinful cheese I’ve ever tasted. It is a French triple-crème brie, which means it has more than 75% butterfat content as compared to 60-74% the double crèmes and less than 60% for your standard bries. One bite and you will give in to this guilty pleasure, because we all know fat is flavor. Pair this with a glass of Bollinger Extra Brut R.D. 1995.
Petit Basque is a sheep milk cheese from the Pyrenees region of France. This is the mountainous region between France and Spain. The Pyrenees region is considered the best in the world for sheep milk cheeses. As with all cheeses from Europe, beware of watered down, flavorless versions of cheese that is intended for export to America. Ask you cheese monger at a reputable cheese shop for the genuine article. It may be a little more expensive, but it is well worth it. Paul jaboulet Cote Rotie “Les Jumelles” is a wonderful glass of wine to enjoy with this cheese.
Another cheese that I love from the Piedmont region of Italy is Latur . This seven ounce wheel is a blend of cow, sheep, and goat milk. The combination of milks gives this cheese an earthy, grassy and rustic flavor. You can identify this cheese by the wrinkly, thin, edible rind. I like to pair this cheese with a glass of Pio Cesare Gavi.
Orgeonzola , which is made by Rouge Creamery, on the Rouge River in Oregon, is one of the best domestic blues I’ve had. The name is a little play on words that lets you know it is made in the gorgonzola style. Rouge Creamery is greatly concerned with the use of sustainable horticulture practices. This means they try to be as low impact on the environment, which is just an added bonus to the wide spectrum of flavors you get from this cheese. A glass of Sandeman’s 20 Year Tawny Port pairs perfectly.
Old Amsterdam Aged Gouda is a house favorite at ENO. In fact, it is the highest selling cheese. This three-year aged Gouda is made from cow’s milk. It has a slightly orange color which comes from the annatto seed, a natural food coloring agent. This is a true Gouda and it goes well with a glass of Swanson “Alexis.”
Constant Bliss , which is made by the Kehler brothers in Greensboro, Vermont, fits all the criteria for being an artisanal cheese. This is a very small production farmhouse-style cheese which means it may be difficult to find. If this or other hard to find cheeses are unavailable at your local cheese shop, try ordering them online. This small cheese has a white, bloomy, brie-like rind and smooth creamy interior. Enjoy a glass of Chateau Ste Michelle “Eroica” Riesling with this hard to find cheese.
Pont l’Eveque is a classic French Norman delight that has been around for centuries and is believed to have been created by Monks in the middle ages. This is an AOC protected cheese. Just like wine, France protects its cheeses, guaranteeing that what you get in France is the same as what you get in America. A glass of Louis Michel Chablis “Montmains” Perrier Cru is a wonderful complement to this classic French cheese.
Roomano is one of my favorite hard aged cheeses. Although it sounds like a certain Italian cheese, it is actually a long-aged version of Gouda made in Holland. The hard texture is also somewhat gritty or crunchy. This is from the converted lactose sugar crystals that develop from the aging process. Even a think sliver of this cheese will generate huge amounts of flavors, including caramel and hazelnuts. Faust Cabernet Sauvignon pairs nicely with Roomano.
Saint Pat , which is made by Cowgirl Creamery in Marin County, California, is not available year round. This is a cheese made with organic whole milk that can only be found from spring to the end of summer. This small batch artisanal cheese has an elastic earthy interior that is wrapped in nettle leaves to accentuate the springtime floral overtones of this cheese. Try a glass of Domaine de la Pierre Sancerre with this wonderful cheese. �