artisanal_cheeseclock-6-7797414If you’ve been following along with my foodie adventures, you’ll know by now that my favorite food in the world is CHEESE.  Yup, I can truthfully say that I’ve never met a cheese I didn’t like!  So when I saw an online coupon a few months ago for use with Artisanal’s Cheese Collections, I had to purchase it.  It was the right thing to do, wouldn’t you agree?

I perused and perused the list – tough job, but someone’s got to do it – before finally deciding on the Artisanal CheeseClock Collection, which arrived in this lovely basket:

How festive!  I had learned all about the Artisanal CheeseClock during my 3 months of Cheese of the Month Club, as well as the two Artisanal classes I took.  This collection made things super easy by color coding each of the 4 cheeses into the 4 categories – mild, medium, bold and strong.  It was a surprise as to exactly which cheeses I would receive, and I’m thrilled to say that I love all of them! (My record for never meeting a cheese I didn’t like still stands).

For the Mild selection, I received Geit-in-Stad:

artisanal_cheeseclock-2-2106182“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)

This is a very friendly goat cheese – sure to be a hit even among those who are normally goat cheese wary!  I really enjoyed the mild, nutty flavor with some dried apricots and cranberries. Yum!

The Medium selection, was a lovely Camembert:

artisanal_cheeseclock-3-7175442“Under a very thin white rind, streaked with the red marks of careful aging, lies a soft, light yellowish paste of milk-like cheese with mushroomy flavors.  This cheese has earned the name Artisanal Camembert.  Salted dry, it is aged in caves in Normandy, France for a minimum of 16 days before being transported to Artisanal’s caves for an additional 30-35 days of aging to develop “a coeur” (a heart!) and ready for your enjoyment.  Artisanal suggests light red wine, Rose, lager or pilsner beer, or even cider as a Perfect Pairing.”

If you like buttery soft, luscious cheese, this Camembert is perfect for you.  I ate this lovely cheese spread on a plain water cracker. Decadent!

For the Bold selection, I received a hearty Tomme Fermiere d’Alsace:

artisanal_cheeseclock-4-5532768“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 feisty cheese was one that I could almost feel biting back as I took a taste.  Smooth in texture yet bold in flavor, this cheese is fun and holds its own.

The CheeseClock was rounded out with a Strong La Peral:

“La Peral is a gently blued pasteurized cow and sheep milk cheese from Asturias in northern Spain. This rare and delicious cheese has been produced for a little over a century. The sheep milk component gives this firm cheese a little olive oil flavor and a pleasant pungent aroma. Also known as Queso Azul Asturiano, La Peral is made by the Lopez Leon family. The wheels are aged for sixty days just to the point that the blue begins to develop. La Peral resembles an Italian Gorgonzola. It has a slightly crumbly texture that leads to a refreshing finish on the palate. Along with other bigger wines, we recommend that you try pairing this outstanding blue cheese with Tempranillos, Cabernet Sauvignons, Gamays, Ports or Spanish dessert wines. “

This blue cheese is drier than expected (I’m used to a very creamy, soft blue) but its unique personality makes it especially enticing.  I found La Peral especially delicious with a crisp, juicy pear.

The four cheeses in Artisanal’s CheeseClock Collection were all distinct in texture, flavor and aroma – however, the perfection with which they complemented each other is unparalleled.  I’ll definitely need to think real hard about whether I’ll be sharing this cheese plate at Thanksgiving versus keeping it all to myself!

Which of theses cheeses would you like to try?