All right, my first eveningtime training session! And this time, I brought my camera! I have to admit, I had a hugely fun time, maybe even guiltily so. Anyway it went like this today:
The first thing Carlos said to me as I stepped in the door was, “Did you see? We got some new cheeses.” I peeked behind the counter, and indeed, there were some huge wheels that had just been cut up. The cheese gods must have heard my cousin grumbling about piave because there was a huge wheel with “piave” stamped all over it. It is now waiting for her to pick up. :) There was also a pack of six little Chabichou du Poitou, goat cheeses, in their little wooden carton. They were so cute. I just had to go, “awww,” after seeing them tucked together, with the goat’s head picture on top of their stout cylinders. And then there was a large wheel of raclette, a wheel of Spanish manchego, and a shipment of a delectable Italian cheese named boschetto. After tasting all of them, I don’t know where to begin writing the reviews and information! :O It was an enormous sensory overload, all imposed on a person whose husband declares she has no sense of smell.
Speaking of smell, I definitely am going to have to train my nose much better! I need to be able to identify the cheeses by their smell. Right now, if you give me the name of a cheese in the store, I can more or less talk my way through the country and region of origin, the milk, rind, and whatever distinguishing characteristics there are. But if you give me a cheese to smell, I probably can’t tell you exactly what it is, although I can probably guess at least the milk! I will have time to learn this. This will be very helpful as I branch into wine as well.
Tonight, I got to see my store in action. I get it now! All the clients come at night! Every night, we have a different music group come and play for the clients, and the orange lights give off a mod kind of vibe to the whole place. The lights are off, which is great, except the cheesemongers have to create those lovely cheese plates in the dark! Tonight, Carlos chose the following to make the plates: manchego (yes, the new one!), pavé d’affinois, prima donna, seahive, oneki, and then some bucheron. I know I am going to be slow in writing reviews of all of those cheeses and then all the others in the store, but they will come eventually!
He broke out the German cheese knives, the plates, bread, and his “paints” (all of those chutneys and then some other things here and there), and we set to work! I made a couple of “Spanish plates” which are plates of Spanish charcuterie, cheeses, and pappadew peppers stuffed with chèvre. That was a fun starter, and I learned how to slice everything correctly. That plate also comes with a delicious fig bread, which is made mostly of compacted figs and marcona almonds scattered throughout. That must be delicious with the Drunken Goat cheese that was served with the plate . . . .
In any case, the cheese plates were so fun to make! We took a lot of care in pairing the sauces and sides with the cheeses, and I was free to let my creativity flow in the presentation and pairing. My very first plate ended up looking like this:
After making it, I had to go to the table and describe each cheese with each pairing I (my trainer, really, this time) had made. It was so much fun! I loved the freedom of choosing the presentation of each plate, and I know that when I have the chance to choose which cheeses to present, it will be fun also!
At one point in the evening, Carlos and I needed to work on the pairing for the bucheron. It was just so aged that it just overwhelmed most of the accompaniments. Nothing sweet worked, so we ended up using the onion in port wine. Interesting pairing, I don’t think it was perfect, but it was what we had to work with. Now that I think about it, I wonder if the balsalmic vinegar would have worked with it (hmmm . . .).
On top of all the tastings associated with that, I had the chance to taste this one fabulous cheddar, Hook’s 12 year cheddar. I’ll write a real post about that one soon enough, but suffice to say, this cheese is like the Lion King for cheddars! The cheddar flavor exploded in my mouth, so full-bodied and rich. It was crumbly because of the age, but the crumbs quickly dissolved. I’ll just say I can compare that sort of burst like biting into a grape, tasting the flavor, and then feeling the grape quickly dissolve away. Anyway, that baby goes for $62/lb., one of the finest in the store. But seriously–aged 12 years??? 12 years! That’s how old my dog is, and she’s getting pretty arthritic. This cheese, on the other hand, was just perfect!
Oh, and then to finish the evening, I had the chance to try the Boschetto, which is an Italian cheese of sheep and cow milk, with white truffles mixed into the paste! If you ever see it around, it is definitely worth taking home! Toast it on some bread, and it will bring out the truffle aroma even more! I am getting hungry again just thinking about it.
Phew, well, now I’m off to bed. Tomorrow is another day!