Sunday, November 9, 2008

Cheese Glorious Cheese!

Just for Lori Lynn (wherever she might be) - cheese pre-porn!

First, how would you like to have this as your fridge!? This is our store walk-in, and its a mess from receiving a ton of cheese and meats. This is actually after I did one pass on cleaning it. If you look on the far left shelf, you'll see all sorts of wheels of cheese and on the floor a couple of barrels of kalamatas. I also see a couple of Stiltons on the near floor - just in time for the holidays.

Of the 30 cheese, we brought in some standards. Here's an 18-month Comtè quarter cut. This is one of my all-time favorites. Semi-firm with a nutty, almost sweet taste that has just enough pungency for my liking, but not too much for Tyler's. Great for the table with a glass of wine, or grated on anything.

I only bring Cabrales in during the holidays because its a bit pricey for our town. An aged blue from Spain that, I believe, puts all other blues to shame. We have quite a few blues, and once you've tried them all side-by-side, you quickly realize that they have different purposes, different tastes, and different temperments. I showed some Ambert a week or so ago, and that's the best "cheap" blue, but next to a Cabrales, Ambert seems like an adolescent in the boardroom.

Fleur Verte is a beautiful, herb coated goat from France. I originally picked this because it was a reasonably priced French goat, but then started to find all sorts of uses for it. If you remember back to the salmon tart from a month ago, this was the cheese that I tucked under the salmon. Its very traditional in its taste and texture, but has never let me down when I needed a good goat cheese.

Tomme du Levezou
is a special request and may not make it to the shelves. I bought this for an event last year and people fell in love with it.

From SFGate: Many of France's finest sheep's milk cheeses come from the Pyrenees, but I've recently fallen for one from the Aveyron, a department in south-central France. Cahors is the region's most famous wine, Roquefort and Rocamadour its best-known cheeses. But my new love is Tomme du Levezou (Tohm dyoo Lay-vay- ZOO), a farmstead cheese made on a handful of small farms and distributed in the United States for only about the last five years.

The Levezou is a high limestone plateau with a few picturesque lakes that draw tourists. But mostly it is a wild, underpopulated landscape with a hard climate, useful only to shepherds. To earn the farmstead label, Tomme du Levezou must be made on the farm from the raw milk of only one herd; the shepherds can combine the evening and morning milk, but then they have to process it. They can't store the milk longer.

The wheels, which weigh 5 to 6 pounds, are pressed to make them drier and improve their ageability. They're matured for two to four months. During that time, they develop a rustic natural rind richly coated with mold. The paste becomes butter-colored, semifirm, smooth and moist on the palate, with a few small eyes. At room temperature, drops of fat glisten on the surface.

The aroma suggests grass, juniper and wildflowers. The flavor is mellow, nutty, even brown-buttery without the aggressive, sharp or salty notes that characterize some mature sheep's milk cheeses.

So what do you say mysterious Lori Lynn from whoknowswhere? A good start? I'll get the cheese porn pics as I start cutting these and many others early next week.


Tri2Cook said...

I'm not sure if I wish your store was close to where I live or if I'm glad it isn't. I'd never have any money.

Lori Lynn said...

Oh my, imagine my surprise at being mentioned in your post! How fun! Thank you!

So I will be a mystery no more: I live in LA, orginally from Chicago, and have had the privilege to travel and eat at some of the country's finest establishments. My brother, sister-in-law and I are all big fans of cheese. So whenever we dine out, we always order the cheese course. I had been browsing through my photo library and realized I had a good number of photographs of cheese from different restaurants around the country so on Oct. 30, I posted some of those pics.

A couple years ago I took a week-long Dairy Science and Technology Basics Farmstead Cheesemaker Course at Cal Poly State University with friends of mine from Vancouver. The hands-on experience and information far exceeded our expectations. And it was fun to go back to college for a week. Nowadays I am into food pairing, and especially interested in food combinations involving cheese. Or pairing the cheese itself with champagne or wine or port or sherry...Do you have some favorite combinations?

I really enjoyed hearing about the cheese you brought in, and your descriptions. YAY for Cheese Porn (and pre-porn). Can't wait to see more! And thanks for making my day!

Lori Lynn

Gfron1 said...

:) Nice to meet you LL. Always remember that you have a friend in cheeses! Chicago holds a fond place in my culinary heart. I did my grad work at Purdue, so Chitown was our weekend getaway. I regularly crave the deep dish, but you may have also seen a few posts ago about Soul Vegetarian East down by the old Cabrini complex. Good memories. And now LA. One of the best cheese boards I have enjoyed was at Providence - not spectacular, but impressive. I'll have some real cheese porn by tomorrow!

RAHiggins1 said...

Rob, the cheeses look good but I must insist that you not set anything on the floor. go get some bread trays (plastic tray)and flip them upside down to put boxes on so that there is some elevation off the floor.
it follows the same rule as placing thawed meats on he bottom shlf so that they will not cross contaminate.

Gfron1 said...

I know. I know. And that was completely remedied within the hour. We had two pallets hit at the same time, and my weekly cafè delivery, and it was more than I could get stored. What happens next in my cooler is that everything comes out of their boxes and is put on the shelves - so the shipping boxes are recycled. I do appreciate the reminder :)