Brebiou, Picobello, Chaumes

Tasting notes

Cheese school starts next week and to “warm up” for it, I decided I would formally taste new cheeses. Not that I have not indulged in wonderful cheese all summer, but I did it with enjoyment in mind, and was not very good at all with writing tasting notes.

My next course will be taught by the wonderful Joanne Chimenti (@joannechimenti). After introducing us to the world of cheese last fall, she will take us on a journey to pairings. I will be joined in my learnings by my very dear friend Lindsay aka Miss @kitchenoperas, and by a very good colleague of mine. Can you tell I’m excited yet???

So, today, as I was shopping for and tasting my cheeses of the week, I could not help thinking about what I would pair them with.

I shopped at my local cheesemongers, The Cheese Boutique. To me, this is the food-lover’s equivalent of Toys-R-Us… Filled to the brim with delicious things. And lots of cheese. So, without further ado…

Brebiou
Sheep, Basque Region (France), 4 weeks of wet aging
$75/kg
Appearance: Soft, creamy, bloomy rind cheese, creamy and shiny in the nail, moving to matte, creamy and firm towards the centre
Aroma: Mild, lactic, yogurt, honey, clover
Flavour: Sweet, lactic, crême fraîche, hint of lemon, sweet
I really really liked this cheese. Very fresh, clean tasting, with a surprisingly long finish. I see it paring well with lemon, beets and roasted almonds. Champagne or a wheat beer would work well too.

Picobello
Goat, Holland, aged 3 years by Cheese Boutique
$76/kg
Appearance: Firm paste, dry rind, peachy paste, darker/greyish near the rind, tiny flecks of tyrosine
Aroma: Very mild, musty near the rind, brown butter, brown sugar
Flavour: Brown butter, onion, miso, caramel
This is a dry cheese that becomes creamy in the mouth, it is quite pleasant and complex and has a medium-long finish. Worked pretty well with port, but not a perfect match. Brown, caramelly beers would be nice. This is a Gouda-style cheese and would be great in a grilled cheese sandwich with pears and ham.

Chaumes
Cow, Périgord (France), 4 weeks of affinage
$60/kg
Appearance: Tacky, tangerine colour rind, light yellow paste with numerous small air bubbles
Aroma: Medium-intense, butter, hay, broth
Flavour: Grilled bread, honey, mushroom, onion, cabbage, very slight ammonia (not unpleasant)
This was my first Chaumes and I really liked it. It is the perfect match to fresh, crusty bread. Roasted chestnuts would pair well with it, as would pears and apples.

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And so they tasted like…

Non classé

Today in class, one of the students brought two of her cheeses because she will not be there next week, when we all bring in our homework for final grading.

She told us that something strange had happened to her cheeses: they dried out and became hard. We had a taste of them and they were really good, but they definitely were not Camembert-like. More like a bloomy chevre.

Another person in the class mentioned the same thing had happened to his cheeses, so I thought I would check in my babies when I arrived home.image

I had a thin cheese that bloomed just like the other ones, and I thought I would open this one first. It was one of the refrigerator cheeses, and it was wrapped in paper on May 19. It felt soft to the touch, so I was wondering what I would find under the paper.

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My oh my… 20140524-175648-64608524.jpg

It was ooey and gooey in there! It was like melted cheese! A very soft, pleasantly salty and tangy paste, lactic, with a nice acidity, and straight forward, but not boring. I look forward to seeing what the other cheeses are like! This is all so exciting!

Bloom watch – May 21, 2014

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All the baby cheeses are now wrapped and ready for the last week and a half of their aging cycle. I really look forward to seeing the difference between the cheeses that spent time in the cooler versus the ones that were in the refrigerator, and also the ones that were washed and wrapped in cider. I am also really looking forward to tasting those cheeses!

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Cheesy breakfast sandwich

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Spring has finally sprung here in Ontario, and that means two of my favourites – ramps AND asparagus – are in season! I cannot get enough of them and couldn’t wait to hit St. Lawrence Market on Saturday to get some.

Today being Victoria Day (or Journée des Patriotes in Quebec), I decided I would treat us to a special breakfast of roasted asparagus and a cheesy breakfast sandwich.

This “recipe” is a guideline more than anything else, and bread, cheese and choice of meat can be varied based on your taste and what you have in the fridge.

For two sandwiches, you will need:

  • 2 buns or 4 slices of bread of your choice (here, 2 white crusty buns from the supermarket)
  • Enough grated cheese to cover the surface of your bread (here, Grand 2 from Fromagerie des Grondines for me and mozzarella for him)
  • An “oniony” ingredient (here, ramps), very finely sliced
  • Salt, pepper and cayenne
  • A few slices of the meat of your choice (here, double-smoked ham)
  • 2 eggs
  • A bit of olive oil

And here’s what you will do:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 F
  2. Cover a baking sheet with foil (this makes cleaning up a breeze)
  3. Slice your bread and drizzle with olive oil
  4. Place buns cut side down and let the crusts toast slightly
  5. Meanwhile, grate cheese and mix with the chopped ramps, and some cayenne
  6. Turn buns cut side up and send back to the oven to start toasting the bread. Do not let brown.
  7. Place the cheese on one half, and ham on the other.20140519-112210-40930417.jpg
  8. Send back to the oven and bake until the cheese is bubbly and the ham starts to curl (if your meat of choice was smoked salmon, I would recommend skipping this step, as it would cook the salmon)
  9. During that time, cook your eggs the way you like the – poached, sunny side up, scrambled, whatever suits your fancy
  10. Assemble your sandwich and devour

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Bloom watch – May 18, 2014

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Today, the five cheeses that have lived in my cooler for the last two weeks have been wrapped in cheese paper and moved to the refrigerator. They will spend the next two weeks there, finishing their aging process slowly.

Cheese paper is a special type of paper that has two micro perforated layers. The inner layer is micro perforated and lets the cheese breathe and while the other prevents excess moisture from escaping. This is pretty nifty and if you are serious about cheese, you can buy that paper to wrap the cheese you buy at your cheesemonger. Formaticum is a good source of cheese paper, and they ship to Canada (their products are also sold at some Canadian stores).

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I could have left some of my cheeses in the cooler, to see how they age differently, but I must admit to ice-making-and-switching fatigue. An electrical cooler would have come in handy here… That’s for sure. I’m still glad I saw the difference in blooming speeds between both environments. That was really cool. Lindsay seems to continue aging her cheeses in her cooler. Courageous and dedicated Lindsay!

The bloom growth has been pretty wild in the cooler:

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In the refrigerator, things are evolving slowwwwwwly… So much so that most cheeses are nowhere near ready to be wrapped. I wonder how much longer it will take. Want to bet?

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Bloom watch – May 17, 2014

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My cheeses were turned over again last night, which explains sparse bloom on the refrigerator ones (the other side has a smooth bloom throughout). The cooler cheeses bloom very fast, and I should be able to wrap them in cheese paper tonight. I have a very sophisticated rope system to distinguish which cheese was wrapped in cheesecloth soaked in cider (one piece of rope) and which one was rubbed/washed in cider (two pieces of rope). Whatever works, eh?

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Bloom watch – May 14, 2014

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Cheeses got turned over last night. Tricky to turn the cooler cheese; they had stuck to the skewers. The lining at the bottom of my containers is blooming too! Wondering if I should wash it and start afresh or just let it be. After my temperature regulation problems I hesitate to change things around. I might just prop the cheeses higher so they aren’t so close to the lining.

Hard cider washes and wrappings continue daily. I think I will stop at the end of the week, having given it a full week of flavouring.

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In other news, cheeses are not the only thing blooming in my life right now. It’s cheery blossom time in Toronto! So pretty to wake up to this…

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