The board, from uppr right, clockwise. Grafton Village Clothbound Cheddar, Grafton Village Shepsog, 1924 Herve Mons Blue, St. Augr Blue and upper left Roquefort.
I Did a Meet the Cow cheese tasting event Sunday afternoon with Mark from butterblogger.com. It’s always a pleasure to get feedback from another foodie that I know well. Tastings are always unique and represent a unique point in time. I get insights, not just into the food, but in my behavior and how my own mind and taste buds work. It was a very introspective cheese tasting. Indeed, this turned out to be an exceptional cheeseboard.
Grafton Village ‘clothbound’ aged cheddar
This cheese was personally recommended by the master cheesemaker at Grafton Cheese during my visit last week. It is made from unpasturized cow milk. It’s moist and firm without being rubbery. The clothbound tends to take up the flavor of the environment over the time it’s aged so the flavors encompass seasons and are complex. The mouth is pleasant and the flavors bloom and persist long after you swallow. It’s really a lovely chedder.
Grafton Village Shepsog
This was the other cheese personally recommended by the master cheesemaker. It is made from a mixture of unpasturized cow milk and sheeps milk. It has a nutty flavor with a sharper entrance and a wonderful tang, that butterblogger said reminded him of a blue cheese. This gave me a clue. After I tasted the Shepsog at Grafton I wanted a blue. I hadn’t made the connection at the time but my body did. Which is why I tasted and bought this Saint Agur blue while still at Grafton Cheese:
Saint Auger Blue
This is a French, Industrial produced blue cheese made with pasturized cow milk. A cheesemaker uses pasturized milk when they want to strictly control the flavor. It starts the cheese with a ‘blank sheet’, so there is no variation in flavor connected to what the cows eat throughut the seasons. It is a wonderful, creamy, balanced, complex, double cream blue. Not as salty as Roquefort the blue flavor clearly presents itself. I keep going back to this one, it’s delightful and I finished it first.
“1924” Herve Mons Blue
When I got home I went to Murrays Cheese and tasted several blues. This is a French blue that is made from mixed milk the way Roquefort was sometimes made in the distant past. It is creamy, minerally beautifully balanced and what I would refer to as a “textbook” blue. It uses a traditional formula and hits all the notes it should. It should be in every ‘introduction to blue cheese’ tasting.
This is the great grandadday of Blue Cheese. It is AOC protected and produced the same way since 1411. Made from unpasturized ewe milk, it is salty, creamy, tangy, minerally and has a firm mouth and melts on your tongue. Each flavor asserts itself loudly and clearly. Roquefort is heads and shoulders above the other fine blues I’ve tasted. This is always a go back to ‘reference’ blue. If you can find it try it. It’s really a unique experience.
AOC regulations for Roquefort
- All milk used must be delivered at least 20 days after lambing has taken place.
- The sheep must be on pasture, whenever possible, in an area including most of Aveyron and parts of neighboring départements. At least 3⁄4 of any grain or fodder fed must come from the area.
- The milk must be whole, raw (not heated above 34 °C (93 °F), and unfiltered except to remove macroscopic particles.
- The addition of rennet must occur within 48 hours of milking.
- The Penicillium roqueforti used in the production must be produced in France from the natural caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon.
- The salting process must be performed using dry salt.
- The whole process of maturation, cutting, packaging and refrigeration of the cheese must take place in the commune of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon.
A final word on Cheese Plates
Typically a cheese plate would have 4-6 varieties of very different cheeses. Usually with one Blue to finish. The blue cheese is tasted last because the strong persistant flavor tend to ruin the tongue for milder cheeses. This cheese plate didn’t start out being a cheese plate. It was cheeses that interested me and it progressed naturally -like following a thread while surfing the internet. I don’t recall having a cheese tasting or cheese plate with 3 blues, nor a cheddar that acted as a gateway to the blues before. It really worked as the strong cheddar start and the blue comparison was really illuminating. I used Mars champaign grapes to cleanse the pallete between the blues, which also worked well.
If you’re interested in scheduling a cheese tasting or other Moo Meet the Cow event, please do not hesitate to contact me.