Appearance: Wow–it just looks so inviting! The rind is slightly mottled, with a bubble edge border and slight depression in the center of the wheel. On the bottom of the wheel, you can see a criss-cross pattern, which is from the containers used to mold the cheeses when first made. The paste is amazingly gorgeous. I can’t believe it–it’s a bright yellow, like true Normandy butter is! .
Country of origin: United States (California)
Milk: Cow (raw, Jersey)
Age: 4 months
If heaven is a dairy farm, maybe it would smell a bit like this cheese. Carmody reserve’s aroma is buttery and lactic, with hints of sweet grass. It reminds me of my favorite macaroni and cheese, which might be an idea for cooking with it . . . .
Of course, the reason I’m into cheese is to taste it. What a heady flavor! So lush and savory! This is truly an exceptional cheese. Just a crunchy, sumptuous WOW. Yes, crunchy! And yes, WOW is used as a noun. There was also a sharp tang, almost like a cheddar. If I didn’t know better, I’d think this was some sort of cheddar or an aged gouda. In terms of mouthfeel, I mentioned the crunchiness. I also noticed that there isn’t much of a finish. After I swallowed, poof, it was gone.
As for pairing and cooking ideas, I tried the Carmody Reserve with some of the sweeter condiments behind the cheese counter, but they didn’t go well at all. What did go very well were the roasted tomatoes we have! It’s a truly savory cheese, it needs some savory accompaniment. I should try it out with the onions in port. I could definitely see this cheese being used as a grating cheese over pasta, in some macaroni and cheese, or in some delicious pastry like this one.
UPDATE: After falling in love with the pastry recipe I posted with this cheese review, I decided to make some onion/lavender jam myself to try with the cheese. Mincing the lavender was my favorite step. It made my little cheese counter taste like Provence for about 20 minutes this morning. It was an easy process, but the butter makes the jam look cloudy. The recipe’s jam is intended to stuff puff pastry, but I made it to serve alongside Carmody Reserve. In any case, when I tried the two together, the taste was superb! Even Carlos and our chef Monica agreed. There was just enough lavender to give the cheese a refreshing kick, and the jam was just delicious as a savory accompaniment. Next time, though, I’ll try the recipe with oil. I know it will change the flavor a bit, but the jam is just too cloudy to serve when made with butter.