28 January 2007

le penicillium roqueforti

Roquefort (Carles, France). Unpasteurized sheep's milk,
aged 3 months, semi-hard.

Perhaps it’s best that we keep the penicillium roqueforti on the back burner until we get some basics down, no? We’re dealing with the second most popular cheese in France, a raw sheep’s milk, stinky, salty, green mess of goodness. With such money on the line the “appellation d’orgine contrôlée" is of course in full swing, though lest you think that Roquefort is an invention of shrewd late 20th century marketing, Charles VI accorded the inhabitants of Roquefort a monopoly on the unique production process in 1411, and Pliny the Elder seems to have had some kind words for a cheese bearing a striking resemblance to our current stinky subject.

The trick is to drop some specially made rye bread into a cave in the south of France, leave it there for six to eight weeks, and then harvest the mold. Fresh white cheese is brought into the “cave,” the aforementioned penicillium spores are released into the air (rather than directly into the cheese, so that the fermentation happens evenly), and the tell-tale green ashy flakes start showing up in a few weeks. Three months in, the color is most evident, and then as the cheese ages, some of the green mold flakes start to disappear.

For my tasting I had to choose between a Roquefort Carles and a Roquefort Societé Bée, and I went with the former because it seemed a bit less dry, more sloppy, and, for better or worse, a dollar more. I like the ammonia aftertaste that makes your eyes squint, but I have to admit that I think that I prefer my blues a bit less salty. The pungency is, however, down right glorious, and I think that armed with the right baguette (crackers don’t seem to carry the mold, perhaps), Roquerfort would be a good way to end a cheese platter, a place to work up to through some more mild or subtle options.

Feta Kuti, 30 Januray 2007

13 January 2007

The return of a 'blue': Lombardy's Gorgonzola

Ricky and M.Boster discover a 'fromage gem' in the Del Ray neighborhood of Arlington, VA. Cheesetique offered two creamy Gorgonzola cheeses, both of the lesser-aged 'dolce' type. (comments on these 2 within).

Stay tuned here for some basic gorgonzola facts.....see Comments for our tasters' thoughts....