My birthday weekend was really wonderful, I felt so much love from my family and friends! As part of our celebration J. and I had a cheese tasting meal. We LOVE Artisanal Cheese — have ordered from them for ourselves many times, have sent gifts from them, and have even taken a class there. If we are placing an order online, we just read the detailed cheese descriptions together and usually have an almost 100% success rate in picking things we can at least enjoy in a small quantity. And sometimes we find cheeses we really love and would seek out again, like Rogue River Blue, Taleggio, or Pierre Robert.
However, we seriously missed the mark on this order.
Here’s what we tasted, and my seriously amateur notes:
- Flixer: A nice, if forgettable cheese. It was a lot more delicate than we expected; so mild that A. actually agreed to try some and thought it was good. (This is a kid who will rarely agree to even eating a slice of Muenster.)
- Fromage de Meaux: How could we go wrong with a brie-style cheese? Perhaps we should have paid more attention to the blurb that said the flavor was “deeper and gamier” than mass-produced brie. Gamier is an understatement, it tasted like we were biting into the hide of an old heifer. To me, it smelled strongly of ammonia, and reminded me of an animal’s cage that needed a deep cleaning. We could not eat it at room temperature.
- La Peral: We always try a blue cheese during a tasting, and this was the only choice on which we were split: I liked the smooth yet crumbly texture; J. felt there was too much of the sheep’s milk component for his palate.
- Mondegueiro: Caused J. to exclaim, “I’m sitting in the middle of a frickin’ farm here!” The gooey center (loved the texture) was definitely more “sheepy” than the firmer section of the cheese closer to the rind. After tasting the Fromage de Meaux, this was almost easy to eat. Almost.
- Tarentaise: Anyone have an EpiPen? Both of us felt instantly allergic to this hard cow’s milk cheese. Our mouths and throat itched horribly, and we couldn’t take a second bite. I have no idea if it tasted OK or not!
The saving grace was that Artisanal sent a half dozen samples along with our order — enough for two people to have a generous taste of each. I thought that was really fun, like a cheese grab bag, and further endeared me to the company. We enjoyed all the samples, at least. And got a lot of laughs out of how off the mark we were with our selections.