March 10, 2005

Ode to a Cheese

There are some things in this world that you can't believe you ever did without. And when you encounter them, you feel as if they've been with you all your life. My wife and kids for instance (awww), suit me to a tee and I can't now imagine my life any differently.

Some foods are like that--they taste exactly the way they should the first time you put them in your mouth. I had that experience about three months ago with Montgomery's Cheddar and now I find I long for that taste constantly.

I know, it sounds freakish to be longing for the taste of a cheese, but admit it, there's some food out there that has your number, too. Is it a Double-Double? A '90 L'Hermitage, or a nice Chateauneuf de Pape? Kalamata Olives?

And just so we're clear, I am not talking about just any cheese. It's certainly not the "cheese" they sell in big vacuum-packed blocks at Costco. No, this is the real deal, handmade, bandage-wrapped, and geriatric (well, for a cheese it's pretty old).

m_cheddar1.jpg

What makes it so amazing that I am going to send you out in search of it right now? Well, for one thing, it's a true farmhouse cheese. That means it's made entirely by the milk of the farm where it's made in Sommerset, England. Like an Estate Wine, this puts total control of the raw material in the hands of the artisan. This wouldn't mean a thing if they didn't know what they're doing with that milk, but they do, let me assure you.

So, what does it taste like? For one thing, what it doesn't taste like is the "cheddar" cheese from Costco. It's not orange, either, it's a pale yellow. It's not rubbery, it's more crumbly, a sign of its age. Shot through with the occassional vein of mold, it reminds you that cheese is living food. If that grosses you out, then you need to stop eating yoghurt and wine, too. Oh, yeah, the taste. In a word, it tastes nutty. More accurately, the flavor will remind you of peanuts. But with a sharp, almost lemony note to it. And there's a sense of earthiness.

The complexity is pretty mind-boggling, and the cheese takes on the personality of its accompanyment--a slice of tart apple, some dried fig, a nice red wine like a Claret or Meritage, maybe a decent Pinot Noir.

And where can you get it? Well, if you're in L.A., I buy it at The Cheese Store of Silverlake. It's available mail order, too from Artisinal, the Vatican of cheese in America. Now, if you'll excuse me, I gotta go get some cheese.

Posted by krudman at March 10, 2005 06:55 AM | TrackBack
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