Milk's leap toward immortality
One of the best gifts I received for Christmas was a giftcard to the Cowgirl Creamery, a DC cheese-lover's mecca. This is a small wonderland of [live and active] cultural gems from all around the world...As I walk in and am overwhelmed by the air's pungency, I am at the same time mesmerized by the wheels of cheese on the counter. Each one is distinct and beautiful...Some distract with their lightning bolts of blue and green mold rippling through them. Others are rubbed smooth and conceal a creamy pure interior under deep red or grey rinds. They come from England, Italy, Wales, France, Switzerland, Spain, the Netherlands...Diverse manifestations of human exploration of the possibilities in milk, curds, whey, air...
So in the photo above, starting with the top right:
-Red Hawk, one of Cowgirl Creamery's own cheeses. It's a pungent triple-cream cheese that is only aged for 4 weeks, during which time it's rinsed in a brine solution and develops a lovely pale orange rind.
-Wilde Weide Gouda from South Holland. Normally we think of Gouda as a smoked cheese, but this was not -- the girl in the shop used the descriptive "butterscotch" when she recommended this to us, and it did indeed have a wonderful subtle sweetness. I did pick up on a butterscotch or caramel sort of taste. I liked this one quite a lot!
-Pecorino Ginepro from Emilia-Romagna, Italy. This was very intriguing! The rind is rubbed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, then covered with juniper berries, giving it the very dark rind you see above. One of my friends smelled it before tasting, and recoiled in disgust, saying that it smelled like a foot....I must admit, it did...But as we all tried what was subsequently dubbed "the foot cheese," we were surprised by how mild, pleasant, and smooth it was. Cheese is a deceptive food, indeed.
-Stilton from Nottinghamshire, UK. Very strong, very rich, very delicious!
-Wensleydale with cranberries (not sure where this was made...a friend brought it)
The two favorites of the evening seemed to be the Gouda and the Pecorino, although each cheese was greatly enjoyed by all! I might ask for another giftcard for my birthday next month...because there is so much good cheese in the world, and so little time!