It’s my favorite time of the month – Artisanal‘s Cheese of the Month Club time! In my last Artisanal post, I introduced you to four extremely mouthwatering cheeses. Well, Artisanal has really outdone itself, because just when I thought it couldn’t get any better (and I’ve tried a LOT of cheese in my life), this month’s cheese plate is absolutely stellar. I literally could not pick a favorite – each selection this month was jaw-dropping, drool-inducing, amazing. I am seriously sad that less than half of each cheese remains. Seriously. Sad.
But on to the cheeses! You will see them here in their full pre-Noshgirl-frenzy, glory!
The first cheese of this fabulous four was the diminutive Crottin (Mild):
“Crottin is a goat’s milk cheese made in the heart of France in the verdant Loire Valley. When the Crottin is young, it is moist and it has a light tangy goat’s milk flavor. As it ages, this pretty little cheese takes on a firmer texture and a fuller flavor. This is a lovely cheese that is excellent served warm with mesclun greens and it pairs especially well with Sancerre and Sauvignon Blanc. One piece weighs approximately 2 ounces.”
The first thing one notices with this tangy goat cheese is its size. No bigger than a ping-pong ball, this tiny study in dairy delight packs a flavorful punch. I tried my first sample on the day it arrived, and it was soft, tangy, light and slightly gamey. As the days progressed, the cheese developed into a fuller, more robust flavor and texture that was very different from its earlier days. Despite its petite stature, one could almost consider this developing cheese a two-for-one deal. Delish!
Moving around the cheese clock, the next selection this month was the velvety, unctuous Robiola Due Latti (Medium):
“Made in the Piedmont region of Italy, this mixed milk cheese (mostly from cow’s milk, and a dash of sheep’s milk) is a delectable treat. The paper thin rind covers an unctuous buttery paste that coats the palate. Mild and savory, creamy with a light lingering sweetness, this delicate pillow of soft-ripened cheese will be love at first bite. Champagne is a wonderful foil to this cheese, as are Cava and Prosecco.”
This cheese softens to a buttery, decadent consistency when at room temperature, and the favor is utterly luscious. My mouth is literally watering right now as I think about this cheese. The second I took a bite, I thought – this is the epitome of a perfect bloomy rind cheese. Full mouthfeel, rich yet not overwhelming. If you ever come across the Robiola Due Latti, buy buy buy!
In the Bold section of the cheese plate, we have the aptly named Prima Donna:
“Prima Donna is a relatively mild style of a Dutch Gouda cow’s milk cheese that is aged for one year. As compared to a four- or six-year Gouda, Prima Donna has a distinctly softer texture and a more subtle flavor. It has an ivory rind with a slight rose blush, a crystalline texture, and a sweet, nutty flavor with a caramel aftertaste. Prima Donna is a versatile cheese for pairing with wines yet it pairs especially well with bigger reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel.”
So I thought the Robiola Due Latti was a clear favorite, but then I tried the Prima Donna and I was torn. Aged for one year, the Prima Donna has had a chance to develop the nutty flavor of aged Goudas and little teases of crystalline texture; yet it still maintains the softer elements of a young Gouda. Prima Donna fills your mouth with flavor and demands your utmost attention. I was especially taken with this fine cheese as it seemed like the younger cousin of one of my favorites Goudas – Roomano (also first introduced to me by Artisanal), which is aged up to 6 years. Prima Donna = a must-try cheese.
We rounded out the cheese plate with Gorgonzola Piccante:
“Gorgonzola Piccante, a formidable cow’s milk blue cheese from the region north of Milan, is Italy’s answer to Roquefort. Its rough, reddish rind protects a tender, light yellow, blue-flecked paste that is firm, moist, and buttery. The flavor is sharp and sweet. Pair Gorgonzola Piccante with a sweet Italian dessert wine.”
Just as the Robiola Due Latti had been the perfect bloomy rind cheese, I dare venture that Gorgonzola Piccante was the perfect blue cheese. I know, quite a statement. There, I said it! Unimaginably creamy, spicy and buttery, this cheese is at once mild in texture and bold in flavor. The contrast between the two forms a perfectly complete cheese experience with each bite. I could have eaten this by the spoonful (and gladly would have) if it weren’t for the threat that there would be no more cheese left tomorrow. Ah, the difficult life of being a cheese fanatic!
As you can see, my opinions on all of this month’s cheese were through the roof. There wasn’t one “simply good” cheese in the bunch – each was blow-your-mind good. While I rue the fast-approaching day when these blocks of cheese are but a distant memory, I look forward with great anticipation to my third Artisanal Cheese of the Month Club delivery!
If you had to pick just one of these cheeses to try, which one would you pick?