Well, Artisanal has done it again. Just when I think the cheese selection that arrives at my doorstep can’t comprise a more perfect ensemble of perfection, Artisanal steps it up. This month’s Cheese of the Month Club shipment includes one of my “Top 5” cheeses, as well as 3 new selections that were new to me – I just LOVE learning about new cheeses! Would you like to learn more as well? Keep reading…
Starting out the cheese clock was the beautiful Hoja Santa, Artisanal’s Mild selection:
“Hoja Santa was created by legendary cheese maker Paula Lambert, owner of the Mozzarella Company in Dallas, Texas. Paula was careful to create a cheese that reflects its origins, so each of these young goat’s milk rounds is wrapped in a velvety, heart-shaped leaf from the local (and eponymous) Hoja Santa plant (piper auritum). The Hoja Santa leaf imparts subtle tones of sassafras, anise, mint, black pepper to this soft, fresh chevre. Here in the Artisanal Cheese Caves, we age the cheese for much longer than most fresh goat cheeses. Then we dry the wet Hoja Santas, flip them, and wait until a few spots of perfectly edible mold grow on the rind. This guarantees that the leaf has lost its chewiness and has infused the white paste with a light grassy note. Pair Hoja Santa with Sauvignon Blanc or any light red with anise and peppery note. Try it with Pernod, an aperitif; a must! One piece weighs approximately 5 ounces.”
I was extremely curious about this cheese because of its lovely wrapping – who doesn’t love string-tied packages? The Hoja Santa leaf definitely infused this soft and mild goat cheese with a pretty intense anise and pepper aroma. Funnily enough, while I’m not the biggest fan of anise or fennel flavor, it complemented this cheese perfectly. Hey, if loving anise is wrong, I don’t want to be right. I paired this cheese with roasted beets and pecans, and the combination was heavenly! Oh and in case you wanted to see how this precious little present looked underneath its wrapping, here you go:
Next up, the Medium selection on the Cheese Clock. Artisanal is on a roll with its Robiola selections – the previous two months have featured Robiola varieties, and each one is eyes-to-the-sky drool-inducingly scrumptious. Robiola Bosina, this month’s Medium selection, was no exception:
“Robiola Bosina, from the Langhe region of northern Italy, is a perfect, creamy blend of cow’s and sheep’s milk. Robiolas come in many shapes and sizes; this flat, square little pillow contains a luxurious, silky paste with smooth, well-balanced flavors. Bosina’s rind is resilient enough to protect its interior while it ripens to a deliciously runny consistency. The paste itself is mild, sweet, milky, and well worth trying with a wide range of wines from Merlot to Sauvignon Blanc. Try it with local silky Dolcetto d’Alba or Barbera.”
When this perfect piece of cheese arrived at my doorstep, I was a bit worried. The rind, while sturdy, seemed to groan under the pressure of containing the runny, creamy interior. My concern was quickly alleviated when I cut a slice and was rewarded with the most extravagant creamy texture of cheese. Reminiscent of one of my Top 5 cheeses (another Top 5 is listed below), Epoisses, Robiola Bosina paired a mild, sweet flavor with this intensely luscious texture. I treasured each enjoyable morsel!
Moving around the Cheese Clock, the Bold selection this month was a cheese that was heretofore unknon to me – Hittisau:
“Hittisau is the namesake cheese from producer Sennerai Hittisau in the beautiful Bregenz Forest of Austria just over the border from Bavaria. Silage-free raw cow milk from local farms gives this cheese a deep, slightly sweet flavor with occasional notes of hazelnuts at just over five months of age. The rind is brightly colored and the firm texture can develop a smattering of small eyes. The Hittisau pairs well with ales, wheat beers, bold red wines, Blanc de Blanc Champagnes, as well as Rieslings, Grüner Veltliners, Muscats, and Chardonnays.”
I definitely noticed the hazelnut overtones in Hittisau; they were quite subtle in my piece. What appealed to me even more about this cheese was the sweet but slightly meaty flavor that gave it a strong finish. This cheese may seem mild at first bite, but don’t underestimate its complexity. Hittisau just begs to be noticed!
And last, but most definitely not least – one of my favorite cheeses ever (and that’s saying a LOT!) – Roomano completes the Cheese Clock as the Strong selection:
“Roomano is a skimmed cow’s milk Gouda from Holland aged up to six years. The texture is hard and crystalline; the flavor has intense caramel and butterscotch tones. Roomano is suitable for grating as well as eating – pair this cheese with big reds or crisp, fruity whites or… with dark coffee and let surprise your tastes buds”
I was first introduced to luscious, caramel-ly Roomano at my first Artisanal restaurant dinner – the fromagier recommended it and it’s reigned in my Top 5 ever since. The flavor is extremely intense, as would be expected of a Gouda that’s aged for six years. The texture is drier than your typical gouda, with crystallized crunchy notes in each bite. The flavor is concentrated; too much of a bite will send you in a cheese-induced head rush (not that I’m complaining). If you ever come across Roomano, definitely definitely try it and let me know what you think. I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I do!
Once again, Artisanal spoiled this cheese-lover with top-notch selections. I especially enjoyed the mild texture of the Hoja Santa, the creamy luscious perfection that was Robiola Bosina, the understated but flavorful Hittisau, and of course my old fave – bold and intense Roomano. Artisanal, your Cheese of the Month Club selections were once again winners!
If you had to pick just one of these cheeses to try, which one would you pick?