Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

Cheese Day Lives

It's been many months since I reported on the weekly cheese day here at Red Hat Minneapolis that I sponsor in a not-so-subtle attempt to get software developers to reveal their secrets and plans. I wasn't sure the weekly posting of my note to my officemates was holding anyone's interest.

But it still goes on, most weeks. Here's the last few months worth of cheese notes to my office, with date and subject heading, in reverse chronological order, for all who may care. You might notice that we've started to have some fancy hams to accompany the cheese, since Surdyk's sells good Proscuitto.

There have been some good finds. Maybe I'll collect all the comments people have made and do a report on them. But for now I say this: If you find a wheel of ripe Perail Papillon, buy it. Trust me on this one. ALSO: The most delicious best bargain Cheddar of all time is Colliers Powerful Cheddar from Wales. Despite the cutesy name. This is HIGHLY recommended. It's less than $10/pound at Surdyk's, and it gets devoured rapaciously by grownups and children alike, even non-cheeseheads.

August 7: The Return of Cheese Day
I figure that the collapse of the I-35 bridge is a justification for fancy cheese. By fancy I mean stinky. And French.

So I have a small wheel (in a little wooden box) of a French Chevre. P. Jacquin Chevre. It's really creamy and delicious, except that it has a very intensely salty rind. Some of us might want to dig out the creamalicious center.

I have a small wheel from an artisanal cheesemaker in Fort Collins called MouCo Blu. This is like a Cambozola (which we determined is like a good Camembert) with a vein of blue. So it's our blue cheese for the week. I bought it taste untongued. so we'll have to see. But it looks nice.

I had to get something mild to balance these two pungencies, so I got some Brebirousse D'Argental from France, which I'd never heard of but I tasted it. It seems the French *can* make non-stinky cheeses when they want, they just don't want.

Also I got some nice Proscuitto Piccante to snack alongside, just to keep Dean happy.

July 24: Cheesaroonie
Today's cheese day has got some stinky cheese. I can smell it as I type.

Saint Vernier: This is a wheel that looks like a small yellowed Camembert. I sampled some at Surdyk's; it's tangy.

Constant Bliss Domestic: Raw Milk! I tasted it and said, "This is not a cheese for beginners".

Roquefort: We haven't had a blue cheese in a few weeks, so I went basic.

And since all three of those cheeses are a little on the strong side, I bought some Jarlsberg, which is very mild. Somebody (Dave I think?) doesn't like Swiss cheese, and this is just fancy Swiss, but other than that this should be fine for most folks.

July 17: Cheese for a Hot July Day
Today's cheeses don't seem super-special, but should provide a fine mid-afternoon snack.

- Another Gouda. Who would think there's so much Gouda? But this one is from Minnesota, from the Pastureland organic dairy cooperative. I tried it. It tastes like Gouda, but has a creamier texture. It would be good for melting and cooking -- it's a touch on the bland side.

- A basic spreadable French goat cheese called Petit Billy.

- Trumpeter Meadow -- this is an aged cheese. The Surdyk's description actually uses the word "musty" at one point, as if that were a good thing.

July 10: Cheese Day: Cow, Goat, Sheep, and Pig
I don't have any pig's milk cheese, but I do have fancy ham.

Here's what we have today:

From a cow: Chimay Grand Cru. We had a "Chimay" a while back, with a beer-soaked rind. This one is similar, but you have to bring your own beer.

From a Goat: A wheel of Perail Papillon. I don't know anything about this.

From a sheep: Ottavi Tomme Corse Corsica. We've had other Tommes, which we have mostly liked.

From a pig: Some slices of German Speck ham.

Maybe instead of cheese day we should have species day and work our way through the animal kingdom.

July 2: Cheese Takes a Holiday
I think we're a little bit sparse this week, or in any case I'm giving Cheese Day the Independence Day Holiday.

I may get some sort of red white and blue dessert item for mid-afternoon tomorrow, though.

July 3: Red, White, and Blue at 2
I have some red, white, and blue comestibles that I'll be putting out starting at 2pm in the side room. Or maybe on Laura's desk.

Blueberries, raspberries, and white goat Brie.

June 26: Today's Cheeses (Good Cheeses, Maybe Late)
I've got a presumably quick dental thing at 1:30pm. It may be cutting it close for me to be back by 2:30. So cheese today is between 2:30 and 3. I'll send a note when I return. If I'm not back by 3 Laura will take charge.

But I really want to be back for the cheese because one of the cheeses (new to me) is Bourguignon Coupe which is like a Boucheron -- white double-cream spreadable, in some ways like Brie. It's at a great stage of ripeness and I so loved the sample I tried that I've been looking forward to eating more.

We also have something basic just called English Cotswold. It's a cheddar from England with chives and onions. The label says it's best served with ale or stout, but I did not bring any ale or stout.

For today's blue we have "Cashel Blue" from Ireland. This is the label: "Cashel Blue is a wonderfully creamy blue with gentile(sic) blueing and a subtle strawlike aroma. Cashel makes a great snack alongside a pint of Irish cider and potato boxty."

Yes, it says "gentile", as in non-Jew. So "gentile blueing" must be the blue rinse the white-haired church ladies use. And boxty? It's an Irish potato pancake, but the word isn't even in some American dictionaries. I googled it and found this rhyme:

Boxty on the griddle
Boxty on the pan
If you can't make boxty
You'll never get your man.

Why that would go well with blue cheese I don't know.

June 19: Those Crazy Dutch!
Cheese one this afternoon is Gouda with Stinging Nettles. Isn't that like, oh, Cheddar with Scorpion tails? Or cream cheese with venom glands?

Cheese two is Idazabal, another one of those Spanish sheep milk cheeses, this one lightly smoked.

Cheese three is just Baby Swiss. We haven't had it yet. Maybe I should have some ham and mustard and rolls as well.

June 12: Today's Cheeses
Here's what I have today. We're in a random mode.

Le Chevre Noir, Canada: Supposedly a sort of aged goat Cheddar, or a Dutch goat Gouda. That seems promising. The texture is crumbly and aged.

Norwegian Ridderost: The cheesemonger described it as a mild Norwegian cheese.

Delft Blue Gouda, Holland: "Combining the best flavors of blue cheese and Gouda", whatever that means.

June 5: Today's Cheeses
Here's what I have today:

Ossau-Iraty (Claverolle de Pyrenees): Another sheep milk cheese. I didn't even sample this. "It is the original Pyrenese cheese".

Chimay Bierre: It's made with beer! It's also stinky, but tasty. The cheese guy said we need to learn to look for certain odors in stinky cheese, to determine their effect on the taste. According to the label: "This Chimay cheese is washed with Chimay Trappist beer rather than brine. The beer imparts an improved nuttiness as well as hints of hops and malted barley."

Delice de Bourgogne: This is a fancy upscale Brie, pretty common and very tasty. I'm not sure how we have managed not to try this yet.

May 22: Today's Cheeses
The guy at Surdyk's said I must be nearly through trying all the cheeses by now, but I said nope there's still plenty more. This week there is no blue cheese, which I realize only now is a mean thing to do on the week that Bob is not here.

- Tete de Moine (Monk's Head). It's labeled a "dessert cheese" so we'll see. It comes in a cylinder. We have a cross-sectioned disk (/dev/cheese).

- Four Year Cheddar Widmer's. This is readily available Wisconsin stuff. There's two-year, four-year, and six-year. Cheddar, Cheddar, Cheddar, that's seems to be the core of Wisconsin cheese.

- A "Surdyk's Selection" which means a cheese they don't get in much and which is supposed to be special -- and which they label with a generic "Surdyk's Selection" label so I really should have written the description down at the store. This is Taratufo and it has truffles in it.

May 15: Cheese This Afternoon
This was a random selection week.

We've had the fresh sheep milk "Driftless" cheese -- plain and with honey and lavender. It's the white spreadable stuff. This week I got some with fresh basil and olive oil marinade. I'm not sure whether I'll like it.

Malvorosa from Spain, made "from the milk of the nearly extinct Guirra sheep. Its semi-soft interior is smooth, buttery, and delicious without the sharp piquant flavor of most sheep cheeses." Ok.

I guess it turned out to be sheep milk cheese day, because I got Zamorano, also Spanish. It's "Manchengo-like" and I like Manchengo.

Just so we don't have all sheep milk I got a piece of Leyden from Holland, because I've been to Leyden. It's like a Cheddar with caraway and cumin. It will taste mostly of the spices.

So this week it all looks "interesting".

May 8: The Return of Cheese Day
We're just working through the counter at Surdyk's. Here's what I have today at 2:30:

French Cantal. The description at the store (which I thought would be on the label, but it is not) said something about tasting of meadows. I asked the cheesemonger about this, and she said that means that you can taste traces of the herbs and grasses the cows eat, and that's true. It's like a Cheddar in texture.

Collier's Powerful Cheddar, Wales. This was relatively inexpensive for a fancy imported cheese, especially one with the word "Powerful" in its name. I suppose it's for a coal miner's lunch pail.

Brillo Di Treviso, Italy: I perversely insisted on pronouncing this as if it were a steel wool pad, which really annoyed the cheesemonger ("It's Brio," she noted emphatically. Um, yeah.) It's a wine-washed cheese.

St. Pete's Select Blue -- Hey, I know a bunch of us don't like blue cheese (Hi, Bob), but this stuff is local -- aged in caves in Faribault. I've had this before: a friend from that area gives it out as a gift and I really like it. I've had trouble finding it, though, so here we are. It might surprise us all. Or it might not.

That's four cheeses, some in slightly smaller quantities than I sometimes get.

Yeah, that was definitely pretty long, but it catches me up to the last time I posted my cheese notes.

I hope you enjoyed that. As I say, it might be fun to write up post-cheeseday evaluations sometime.
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