Happy Wednesday, Noshers! How is your week shaping up? Do you have any fun Labor Day weekend plans? I’m keeping my ears open for any friends having barbecues so I can crash them. Anyone know of any good barbecues I can crash??
Today I am super excited to write about the Artisanal’s CheeseClock Collection. As you likely know by now, dairy is my very favorite food group, and cheese is my very favorite food within the dairy food group. So yeah, cheese is basically my favorite food, like, ever. As I always say, I’ve never come across a cheese I didn’t like! So when Artisanal asked if they could send me some cheese, the answer was an unequivocal yes.
The CheeseClock collection is based on Artisanal’s CheeseClock guide (below):
The CheeseClock is a great guide to keep in mind when putting together your perfect cheese plate, guiding you through the spectrum of Mild to Strong cheeses. The CheeseClock box that Artisanal sent me has four cheeses, one from each section of the clock, of course. A Mild selection could include goat cheese, double or triple creme cheeses, or bloomy rind cheeses. The Mild selection included in my box was Geit-in-Stad:
“A mere four hundred years after the early Dutch settlers made their home in New York, Artisanal has brought this wonderful Dutch goat cheese to its caves in New York City, hence goat-in-the-city or “Geit-in-Stad.” This cheese has a smooth firm texture that practically melts in your mouth leaving a sweet mild aftertaste compared to the far more familiar and stronger flavored cow versions. Certainly an excellent candidate for an introduction to the goat cheese family that can be enjoyed on its own and is perfect for those who are lactose intolerant. As with other goat cheeses, Artisanal suggests light white wine, Champagne or even pilsner beer as a perfect pairing for Geit-in-Stad. Light wines can include Sauvignon Blanc, Rieslings, Chenin Blancs, Chardonnays and Viogniers among others.” (all descriptions are from Artisanal)
If you’re a goat cheese fan, you will be pleasantly surprised by this departure from the traditionally soft goat cheese you may encounter in salads. This version is firm but smooth, and I absolutely love it. If you’re hesitant about goat cheese or usually not a fan, I’d still encourage you to try this version – it is unlike any goat cheese you’ve tried before!
A Medium cheese is soft to semi-firm, such as a mild cow, aged goat or sheep milk cheese. Artisanal’s Medium cheese selection was the quintessentialy Spanish Manchego:
“Artisanal Manchego, the famous Spanish D.O. sheep’s milk cheese, is made exclusively from the milk of sheep grazing upon the plains of La Mancha, the land of Don Quixote. The Artisanal Manchego is made from raw milk and aged for several months. The cheese is nutty, sweet, and tangy with a firm texture. After 12 months it becomes tastier, saltier and excellent for grating. Manchego pairs well with roasted peppers and rustic bread. Try pairing this cheese with light crisp whites and light to medium-bodied red wines.”
The very first time I had Manchego was in Madrid, and every time I’ve had it since, it brings me back to my first visit to Europe in college. I consider this cheese an “old faithful” – friendly, approachable, and bound to please even the most conservative of cheese palates.
Moving around the clock, a Bold cheese could be stronger and nuttier, such as a hard mountain, long-aged cheddar or mild washed rind (“stinky”) cheese. For the Bold selection, Artisanal selected Tomme Fermiere d’Alsace:
“Tomme Fermiere d’Alsace is a firm, washed-rind (smear-ripened) cow’s milk cheese made in the Alsace region of France. We receive this cheese into our caves and continue the maturing process for an additional two to four months, washing each wheel several times with a light fruity Alsatian wine. This dramatically accentuates the lactic flavors and helps it develop long, fruity notes with hints of mushrooms, grasses and butter. Tomme Fermier d’Alsace complements regional varietals such as Riesling and Gewürztraminer.”
This cheese was definitely bold and held its own! The aroma is distinctively barnyard-y (in the most pleasant way possible), and the creamy texture was complemented with a intensely flavorful kick. Yum!
Artisanal finally rounds out the clock with a Strong cheese, such as more assertive washed rind cheese or a classic blue cheese. Artisanal knew it would win my heart with the decidedly Strong selection of Gouda, Aged 4 years:
“Gouda is simply unrivaled for that perfect balance of salty and sweet. Deep caramel in color, crunchy, crystalline, and meltingly smooth on the tongue, this aged cow milk Gouda bursts with flavor. The hint of butterscotch at the finish is a signature of this Dutch treat. Gouda pairs well with Cabernet Sauvignon as well as a several white wine varietals. If you let a stick of Gouda melt in your hot coffee it will become caramel in your mouth.”
Okay, first of all – did you know the correct way to pronounce Gouda is “how-da,” not “goo-da”? Can we talk about this for a bit? Even though I had heard that tip previously, I cannot help but prounce it goo-da. As in, it’s a goo-da idea to eat this cheese (sorry). Anyhoo, this cheese is similar to one of my faves, Roomano. It is crunchy, caramel-y, and super strong. I’m a fan!
Of course I had to put together my own clock, complemented with strawberries, walnuts, and honey sesame and chili-lime cashews:
The four cheeses Artisanal included in their CheeseClock Collection were all distinct in flavor and texture and complemented each other perfectly. If you’re looking for a ready-made cheese plate to serve at a get-together (or who are we kidding, to eat in front of the tv, ha!), I’d recommend checking out the CheeseClock!
Which of these cheeses would you like to try?