Left: Toma Naccagno
Right: Gorgonzola Piccante
Last month I ordered a trio from Artisanal for the week’s cheese grazing. Three that couldn’t be more different from each other… one of those boards that could delight, confound or make small children cry.
First, you should know that, in the cold winter months, I keep cheeses under a bell jar/glass dome, wrapped and out in our breezeway. It’s cold, convenient and you get the added bonus of coming home to the smell of dairy.
After the Artisanal order arrived (GREAT SERVICE!), I unpacked, left the cheeses wrapped and shelved them for the next day or two. And came home to the sort of whiff that makes you think… uh-oh.
It was that evil Toma. A washed-rind dating back to the ancient monks. A washed rind that smells as if it’s carrying centuries of penitence and sin along with it. This is a right. fine. STINKER. Truly, the smelliest cheese I’ve ever housed. As it was on sale, I trust it was nearing its terminal date… there was just enough ammonia in the stink to give you pause.
But OH the flavor. Rind disposed of, this whoel cows milk (Pezzata Rossa d’Oropa) is nutty, meaty, savory, with a texture of thick, creamy, sticky butter. Wonderful.
I’ve had Gorgonzola Picannte before, it’s a preferred blue when you want to be tried a little. Creamy mouth feel with a condensed, sharp blue bite. Artisanal’s own description: “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.”
Finally- the palate-cleansing Cremont from Vermont Creamery. They describe this cow/goat blend ascombining “the nutty taste from of our crème fraîche, the creamy texture of our Bonne Bouche, and the wrinkled geotrichum rind of our Bijou.”
It has that fresh-water, ctrus tang of a young goat cheese but is richer, fattier, a little funkier on the nose and tongue.