I visited New York over the weekend of November 5th, and attended my third Murray’s Cheese Boot Camp. This time I went to work – I signed on as an intern to get a better idea of how behind the scenes of an intensive cheese class would go. I did get educated! More on that in another post.
As always, I hauled back a bunch of cheeses – 13 of them, this time, and gathered fellow wine-and-cheese lovers at the house for a grand cheese tasting.
Organizing a cheese tasting is a lot of fun, especially when you’re loaded with cheeses that no one has tried before, that you love, and that you think will be interesting. It’s a great way to get people together, and – when you bring in the wine – to start some rather interesting debates about the merits of the cheese, the wine, and the pairing.
I should not have been surprised, but my plethora of palates armed themselves with multiple glasses to try multiples of wines with the cheeses. I did make sure they knew they had to put a glass down to pick up a cheese – no teeth allowed. I labeled each plate with the specifics of the cheeses, and arranged them in order from mildest (upper left of the photo) around the table to the strongest. For the most part, everyone followed the flow, and (from what I could tell) had a great time!
Featured (in the order of presentation) were:
- Oma, a raw, washed-rind cow’s milk cheese from Von Trapp, in the hills of Vermont
- Pawlett, a raw washed rind Jersey cow’s milk cheese from Consider Bardwell Farms, in Vermont
- Landaff, a raw cow’s milk riff on Cornish Yarg, from New Hampshire
- Capello del Mago, a raw, natural rind goat’s milk from the town of Fobello, in Piemonte, Italy
- Noble Road, a raw, bloomy rind cow’s milk cheese from Calkins Creamery, in Pennsylvania
- La Beola, a natural rind, raw cow’s milk cheese, from the town of Fobellow, in Piemonte, Italy
- Amanteigado, a washed rind, raw sheeps milk cheese from Lisboa, Portugal
- Puits d’Astier, a natural rind sheep’s milk cheese from the Auvergene region of France
- Ascutney Mountain, a natural rind Jersey cow’s milk cheese, from Vermont
- Comte d’Alpage, a raw cow’s milk cheese, aged for 18 months, from France
- An Aged Goat Gouda, from Holland
- St. Pete’s Blue, a delicious blue cheese from Minnesota
- Colston Basset Stilton, from England
The most popular cheese was the Noble Road. It had a wonderful, mush-roomy, beefy, creamy flavor that knocked everyone’s socks off. It was the only cheese that disappeared (not that a serious dent wasn’t made in the rest of the selections!).
The surprise of the tasting was one of the wine pairings. We had a variety of wines, from a Susana Balbo Torrontes, to a Masi Amarone, with quite a mix in between. The surprise was that the Torrontes went with almost every cheese! Even those that it did not work well with, it was more along the lines of the cheese overwhelming the wine (like the blues) as opposed to the wine and cheese fighting it out in your mouth.
My favorite pairing was the Colston Basset Stilton with some 1979 PX Sherry. The ports we had couldn’t stand up. The Amarone did OK, but the PX was just wonderful. Unfortunately, we only had a little to go around, so I will be looking for another bottle, and another chunk of cheese, to test this out further!
Stay tuned – over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting tasting notes for all the cheeses. None are currently available in Miami, but they are all available from either Murray’s Cheese or Saxelby Cheese, in New York. Worth the trip to try, worth the expense to buy – trust me on that!