Saturday, December 25, 2010

Cheese wars!

Humbolt Fog, from Northern California

Taleggio (left), Humboldt Fog (right), Marisa (background).
Fleur du Maquis not shown.

In a universe long, long ago, one country ruled the cheese of an entire planet: France. Their reign is secure - for a while, at least. With over 365 different kinds of cheese it will be a while before an usurper arrives to steal the fragrant crown.

You can buy raw milk cheeses in France in any place that sells decent cheese. The government won't get in your face and tell you, "no!", no matter how young the cheese is (you can buy raw milk cheese in the USA, but it must be aged a minimum of 60 days - so no Camembert). Many are wonderful, runny cheeses that transform themselves with time into things that are too potent for most American palates.

Alas, where we in America could put a man on the Moon, we are unable to find a way of producing pasteurized cheese with the same flavor and complexity to equal a Camembert, Brie, Pont l'Evêque... but we're getting closer.

Still, we've begun to edge closer to the throne, advancing sheep, goat and cow cheeses into the realm of world class. Nothing to beat a Roquefort, Stilton, AOC Camembert, Muenster, Parmesan or Langres. OK, that last one is a personal favorite, not necessarily a world class cheese. And it's French.

Yet, we've got some goat cheeses that can stand up and bleat with the best of them. Humboldt Fog (Cypress Grove Chevre, California) is a perennial favorite. We're advancing on the sheep front, too - cave aged Marisa (Carr Valley Cheese, Wisconsin) is smooth, complex, and very interesting indeed. We produce some nice blue cheeses, although so far nothing to equal Roquefort. So far, it seems that Europe is ahead of us in cow's milk cheese, but then I haven't tasted Carr Valley's hand made, well-aged cheddar yet either.

No comments:

Post a Comment