Cheese shouldn’t taste like lollipops, nor test my gag reflex.

Seriously, what the hell?

Jessica is doing a wine & cheese course as part of her GBC baking certification program (let’s just assume it’s an elective, as that seems a little outside the baking mandate). In said course, she has to do things like drink wine, and eat cheese. Shocking, I know.

For a project coming up, she has to pair wines and cheeses. Before even getting to the wine, she decided to get a bunch of interesting new cheeses to sample. As this involved food, I decided she needed my assistance in sampling and describing them (and as you’ll quickly learn, i have to come to grips with a certain lack of expertise or vocabulary to articulate how these cheeses smell and taste).

The Cheese:

Ermite Blue (blue cheese)-A Canadian cheese, this was perforated for veining (appetizing, I know), with the molding having a greenish/blue tint. It was fairly solid to the touch, with only a mild crumb to it. It had a very mild, pleasant aroma, and when eaten, was almost creamy on the tongue. Overall, a decent cheese.

Etorki Basque-similar to a gouda, this had a pale, yellow meat with a waxed orange rind (not sure why the rind description is important, but jess felt I should mention it-As I said, still gaining that expertise). Upon applying a light pressure, the body had a slight, rubbery give to it. The smell was fairly interesting, almost like a sweetened butter. Upon hitting the tongue, it became almost powdery, and then a paste, but not unpleasantly.

Provolone-had it on enough sandwiches, skipped it.

Vacherin Friebourgeois- Washed rind, pale yellow/orange meat blah blah blah. This one was very strange-it had an almost synthetic smell and flavour to it-Almost like a sharp, acidic version of that powered parm that comes in the cans. Hard and mildly crumbly, it tasted very salty and sharp. Unfortunately, almost too sharp for my palate.

Beaufort-Apparently comparable to a gruyere, but with a much, much harsher flavour base. Honestly, it basically smelled and tasted like sweet, wet gym socks. Appetizing, no? It was also very dry, with a strong crystalline structure to it. So, mouth feel was at least somewhat interesting.

Bleu de Gex-a very interesting blue-the meat is a yellow to gray, with the mold spread throughout to such a degree that there wasn’t really any discernible veining, just lotsa blue and gray. Wax rind. The aroma was very pungent, but not entirely unpleasant-it smelled very earthy and rich. Flavour wise, it wasn’t particularly sharp, sweet, salty-it had a strong, mouth-filling flavour of an almost mushroomy earthyness (dear god, they’re invading my cheese now). Actually quite interesting, but it’d need to be paired with something for it to be palatable in larger-than-sample-size amounts.

White Stilton w/Candied Lemon Peel- Apparently a special, in-house offering from our favourite local cheese shop, Alex Farm Cheese. Jess was super excited about the idea of a stilton with some sort of candied fruit in it. I was non-comittal, but am willing to try nearly any food placed in front of me (especially in the name of school work!). Goddamn, what a horrifying mistake.

My stomach heaved just from the smell of it-Like cheese soaked in lemonade, only with an extra few cups of sugar added in for good measure. I was content to have the relationship end there-platonic at best, with only the mildest animosity on my part. But noooo, Jess egged me on, so I ate the damn thing. And yeah, it tasted like the most cloying, saccharine lemon lolly I’ve ever had, and my sample size was probably under a centimeter cubed. A CENTIMETER, YET MY MOUTH WAS FULL OF OVERWHELMING FLAVOUR.

Now, there are tons of rich foods (including various blue cheeses) that I find slowly overwhelm my tastebuds over the course of a meal-at first, it’s powerful and seductive, and then it eventually begins to feel like my tastebuds are being held hostage. I’m fine with that-it means I’m constantly aware of how the food actually tastes, and avoid having eating become a mechanical reflex. This was something else, as it felt like awfulness had detonated all over my tongue.

For the record, lemon flavoured candy in all forms is generally fantastic, and stilton is definitely acceptable in either it’s blue or white forms. The combination could even work, given a more sensible amount of candied lemon peels-if i had the barest hint of it within the cheese, it probably would’ve been a very pleasant way to end the tasting.

Instead, I’m going to go hunt some Tums down. They’re berry flavoured, so there won’t be any conflict-of-interest at the moment.

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2 Responses to “Cheese shouldn’t taste like lollipops, nor test my gag reflex.”

  1. I was not ecstatic by the thought of candied lemon peel (which I HATE);I was excited by the thought of white stilton and would have liked to pick up a cranberry one if it had been available, since it could only be better than that evil perversion of stilton. I know it was on special, but I am now miffed I wasted 8 dollars on something so utterly inedible.

  2. Also, the class was not elective but mandatory as it seems most restaurants or hotels fancy enough to have a certified patissier give that patissier the job of creating the cheese menu (pressumably in cahoots with the sommelier). I can only think that this is because in a full service, the cheese course comes at the end of the meal and they figure they have to get as many courses out of the pastry chefs as possible if they’re going to the bother of having them at all.

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