I’ve been pretty busy the past couple of days, and pretty tired, so I haven’t had the chance to write much! Today was my first “official” day as a daytime cheesemonger. Training is over, so I was behind the counter by myself! I loved talking to the clients about cheese, basing my suggestions on their input, and giving them samples. We sample all sorts of goodies, from brown butter and sea salt cookies, which are extremely popular, to cheese, to honey. I still wish we could somehow get more foot traffic in during the day, especially for these cheeses. It can get pretty quiet, and the cheese palate of the people here are not as adventurous, as, say, that of the French or Spanish, but I hope that will change. The store is pretty new; it turns one year old this week, and new people are always coming in to discover new tastes.
Today, two of the popular cheeses were Hook’s 12 year cheddar, the topic of a previous post, and Cocoa Cardona. Curious to try this artisinal American cheese, I tried the Cocoa Cardona:
Country of Origin: United States (Wisconsin)
Producer: Carr Valley Cheese
Age: 2 months
Cocoa Cardona is a much-lauded cheese from a much-lauded, certified Master Cheesemaker, Sid Cook. It landed the first place ribbon in 2007 from the American Cheese Society Competition. Encountering it for the first time, I could only think of one thing: truffles. Not the kind for which you train pigs to search under the earth, but the chocolate, cocoa powder-covered confections my husband likes to prepare his coworkers at Christmas. Maybe I am oversimplifying things, but this cheese is a goat cheese truffle that comes in 10-lb. wheels. Essentially, it is the Carr Valley Cheese company’s Cardona cheese with cocoa powder. The powder enrobes a pale, almost white, creamy paste which is not salty at all, but tangy. Once in your mouth, you can taste the fresh tanginess of the goat, the floral essence of its milk, all of which is muted after a couple of seconds by the cocoa powder. It’s an invigorating cheese that is likely to excite your palate. Be careful, though, you don’t want to make a mess with the powder.
Because it is a goat cheese, and because of the cocoa powder, I probably wouldn’t try pairing this with a red wine. I would try a light white one, Chenin Blanc, a light Chardonnay, or a Sauvignon Blanc.
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