My sweets, a couple weeks ago, we figured out how to make the perfect cheese plate. But what about really those change-your-life strong cheeses? Well, Murray’s Cheese helped us put together a cheese plate for brave souls that will blow your mind (and stink up your living room). The only question is: Can you handle it? :)
Murray’s head cheesemonger Sydney Willcox showed us how to create a truly adventurous cheese plate, and the wonderful Jamie Beck took photos. Here goes…
Overall rule of thumb: Typically it’s OK to eat the rind of any cheese, as long as you can handle the stronger flavor (exceptions, of course, are cloth-bound or wax rinds).
Monte Enebro. This quirky Spanish goat cheese is covered in ash and mold. The flavor is creamy and salty on the inside, and then gets spicy, damp and acidic as you get toward the rind. Its overall funny appearance is said to resemble the leg of a mule!
Quadrello di Bufala. This gamey cheese is made in northern Italy with water buffalo milk. Two SUPER cool brothers took over their father’s farm (their dad had started the farm in 1968 and tragically died the same year). They wanted to do more than just make mozzarella, so they created a bunch of different funky cheeses. This cheese is very barnyard-y; you can taste wet straw, a bit of stink and sweetness at the same time. Tangy, meaty, very rich. Washed in brine.
Epoisses. There are two ways to serve this runny cow’s milk cheese–cut it like a pizza or cut the top off and scoop it out with a spoon (or dip your bread in!). After four weeks of aging in France, this cheese is rinsed in French brandy–and once it crosses the pond, Murray’s washes it in brandy again in their cheese cave to kick up the intensity. Very strong, gooey, stinky. (In fact, it’s so stinky that there’s a rumor that it’s banned from French public transportation.) Like a salty pudding. Fun fact: Napoleon Bonaparte was a huge fan!
Pecorino Foglie de Noce. This raw sheep’s milk cheese is buried in barrels full of walnut leaves while it ages. You can taste the walnut flavor in the cheese, and the rind is grassy and herbaceous. Milky, nutty, sharp and very salty. Great with fresh grapes, since it’s so salty that you need that refreshing palate cleanser. (Fun fact: Did you know that the word “pecorino” doesn’t actually connote a specific cheese, but simply refers to any Italian sheep’s milk cheese?)
Caveman Blue. This blue cheese is made with raw cow’s milk in Oregon. (The Pacific Northwest is a big blue hotspot.) Really fruity and spicy, the flavor is right up front. Has nuances of beef and bacon and grass. Not for people who are timid about blue cheeses! The name “Caveman Blue” is a nod to the nearby town of Grant’s Pass, which is overlooked by a huge hulking statue of a caveman.
Yum! Thank you so much, Sydney and Murray’s! What do you think, my lovelies? Do you dare? How bold are you when it comes to cheeses? (I would love to serve this tray at a dinner party!)