Tintern Cheese

2013-01-01 16.03.48

Fresh produce.

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Wisconsin Blue

Blue Cheese. What can I say about blue cheese? I really want to like it… there is faintly something about it that I like… but then I am brought back to reality. I’ve put a lot of effort into forcing myself into liking it. The common man, likewise, puts a lot of effort to try and understand the financial practices of the rich (they must be out for the good of the commonwealth! Surly!); they try so hard to believe, but, like them, no matter how optimistic I may be, it physically hurts me make it a part of my life. My stomach, like my subconscious, is in revolt.

Wisconsin Blue… I opened it and found it swimming in a pool of filthy juices. I washed my hands for a good five minutes afterward and the smell didn’t go away. My keyboard is still sticky from the juices as I type. I can’t even compare it to anything. It tastes like blue cheese. There is a reason that blue cheese doesn’t taste like anything else: it’s fucking awful. After only a few nibbles, I have a stomach ache; I’m going to drink some straight shots of whiskey to settle it down.

My mother’s reaction: “Not bad. I like it. Oh, wait, no, there’s something wrong here. I don’t like it. No, it’s horrible. It’s like oil. Oil you would put in a car. Throw this out immediately.”

That about sums it up. And this blue cheese is considered mild.

EDIT: I will give it this: after about 4 hours, it has a good aftertaste.

White Stilton with apricots

2013-01-01 16.02.42

That fancy looking soap from the dollar tree that doesn’t actually fool anyone: this cheese. But without the bite.

Or cobbler.

If those two tastes coming from one cheese doesn’t make any sense, it’s part of why I didn’t like it in my mouth.

Irish Cheddar

Refreshing. You know that fantastic taste you get after a hard day of work during a hot summer day and you drink an ice cold glass of water? It’s not quite a full blown taste but it’s there, in an almost abstract sense, whispering to you, telling you to drink more water. This cheese took that taste, and enhanced it into an audible roar.

2012-12-24 15.06.43

Dubliner Imported Irish Cheese

I was Christmas shopping at Costco with my family when I was offered a sample of this stuff. I only had one small bite of it so I don’t have a picture to post along with this review, but here is a good Christmas carol sung buy a drunk guy from Ireland with really bad teeth. The cheese was sweet, creamy, and it it had some faint overtones of artificial grape flavoring (only way to describe it). What really struck me with this cheese was the persisting calm serenity of the after taste. Like an old echo bouncing back and forth across a  canyon of the past, the hellish behavior of the last minute shoppers seemed to fade to a background that would allow for sleep to easily creep upon me. I started to smile, not an innocent smile of a child, but the smile produced by an old man standing in a field smothered with stark spiritual silence only felt at places where something really big happened long ago. Then someone shoved me to get to a 30 pound roast and knocked me out of my cheesy meditative state of special solitude. I didn’t buy the cheese, as it was being sold in bulk. I just didn’t need 2.18 pounds of the stuff. Cheese is sometimes best enjoyed if given only a single bite. Excess just tells you “you don’t need to try too hard to capture the soul of me, you will have much more of me to eat”.

Merry Christmas! Don’t buy too much crap, and enjoy your families and the ones you love.

Buffalo Cheese

2012-12-09 16.22.07

One of the great gifts of cheese is that it allows for a whole new realm of tastes to be acceptable. Normally, one would never dream of eating something that smells like a sheet of glass that has just been cleaned with windex cleaner, but with cheese, you are invited to explore what would normally be considered potential poison, because somewhere in the back of your mind, you know someone deemed the cheese edible and fit for consumption when it was put up for sale on store shelves.

Now, as you all know, I am partial to sharp cheese. But this stuff was something different. It is sitting on a stuffed leather chair next to a fireplace stove illuminating richly finished mahogany furniture all around my eyes reading the daily news cross legged in khaki slacks and a tobacco pipe. It took me back to the days of studying by candle light. Back when you needed to go to the store to buy block ice for the “refrigerator” at home. Back when books and suspenders were in fashion. Back when artisans and craftsmen still populated the cities and those words meant something. When lead was used in paint. When people listened to smooth jazz.

Let’s get down to business: this cheese tasted like a chemically sterilized creamy nut yogurt patty. It had a delicate smooth dense consistency.  The aftertaste was invasive. It didn’t go away. At times when my imagination was strong it tasted like I had just enjoyed a good bite of a delicious cheese burger. Other times it tasted like I had just downed a shot of bleach (I could even feel it in my nostrils). Most times it tasted like that, especially after successive bites. The rind was edible. It tasted like some sort of powdered laundry detergent and sometimes like a bite of stale bread when I was feeling playful. It had the consistency of cardboard that has been wetted and dried multiple times and looked like a fine piece of artisan bread patted down in flower. I chose this cheese because I have never tried cheese made from buffalo milk before (which I never even thought existed before I saw it)(I actually had quite a fun little bit of time imagining all of the other types of cheese could conceivably be out here: chicken cheese, giraffe cheese, platypus cheese, T-rex cheese! oh… so many creatures on Earth (alien cheese), I wonder what new types of worlds they would create with how they taste in cheese form)(I lamented at all of the extinct species, and all the terribly polluted environments of food animals are producing milk from and all the molds yet discovered hiding in caves).

Alright, so far I have ignored the beer that I decided to pair with this review. I saved this for last largely because I believe that cheese should be enjoyed as a pure experience (at least in terms of review): no wine, crackers, or anything like that. But beer is sometimes the exception for me. It was sweet and creamy – how I imagine an old flat can of root beer would taste after spending a year floating on the side of a creek rusting out in the forest. It was the perfect complement to this cheese. I knew I was getting myself into something special with this combination when I found it lost amidst a vertical sea of selection. The beer is called Samichlails, and it is hailed as the most extraordinary beverage in the world. Brewed only one day a year in Austria, this beer is one of the most rarest and alcoholic (14% alcoholic content by volume) beers in the world.

As the beer and cheese danced the tango on my tongue, I realized how precious both of these substances are. One forged from the baby food of an endangered species slaughtered by the millions by early American settlers, the other, a small family tradition carried on from father to son in some obscure little village once a year in Austria, I am forced to savor every moment my body’s senses spends with this beer and this cheese, and I forget the high price I paid for them. I get the impulse to rub my fingers back and forth as if some rare metal were between them and I were appraising it for some poor peasant to sell for next week’s dinner. Make no mistake about it: good beer and good cheese are microcosms of culture.

2012-12-09 16.19.54

Marconi and Cheese Cheese

Cheese is the greatest snack ever invented by our kind. It provides everything our bodies are depleted of after long exertion. So when my friend Eric and I had just finished a 20 mile run up in the mountains during the first tsunami of the season, we needed something to boost our systems. And cheese was what was on the menu. Specifically, Dorset Red, Handmade & matured on the Dorset Coast. It’s an English aged cheese naturally smoked over oak chips.|We bought the stuff from some guy out in a cabin just out of town, I imagined (I actually bought the stuff in a store, but that’s such a boring story).

This is no ordinary smoked cheese though. I usually hate everything about smoked cheese (I’d rather eat a can of cheese whiz) and that’s why I think I like this cheese so much: it doesn’t even remind me of smoked cheese at all. It’s like a big hunk of salmon caught along the Dorset Coast, taken across the Atlantic in a boat to the panama canal and up the pacific to be smoked out in an Alaskan cabin in the woods by master level smokers.  The outer edges of the cheese reminded me of scales, and even though Eric, like normal people, would not eat scales, I ate the scales —  I like that part of the fish too (with certain fish, not all of them).

(even looks like scales.)

As my friend and I munched on our hunks of smoked salmon I realized another way with which to taste the cheese (sort of like looking at a statue from another angle). I decided that this would be the ultimate cheese flavor to use for Marconi and Cheese. Eric instantly agreed with me when I mentioned this, and could no longer eat the cheese without thinking this, as if it has always been self-evident.

We parted ways that day, and decided to make the mac in a few weeks. A few weeks came, and on a day that I put 10 pound weights on my ankles and hoped down a stream of rocks I got the craving for the stuff again and decided it was time for the Dorset Red mac so I arrived at Eric’s house below the mountains from my cheese shack built up on a cliff. I had the cheese and he had the noodles, butter, and all the other fixin’s. He told me he also craved some cheese, he had not eaten in three days because he just binged on a live video game stream marathon, and his appetite for cheese was that of how passengers on a sinking ship view land.

We were worried that the cheese would melt incorrectly, like oily cheddar thickly melted onto burgers, so we experimented with a way to solve this problem. Eric decided that the cheese would need either butter or milk as a melting agent. He tried it out in the microwave but it still came out with the same type of consistency. My idea was not to melt the cheese at all, but to grate it to a fine powder and then simply sprinkle it over the normal mac and cheese like a condiment. Eric cooked noodles and took special note to put a teaspoon of salt into it as to accentuate the natural flavors of the noodles and we tried both of our methods. My solution is what we ended up using.

Taste report: everything I would imagine it would be, but better. It was a little too much actually.. That’s my only criticism, we used too much. I will describe this as the sipping chocolate of macaroni and cheese. Even 5 or 10 noodles would feel like a mouthful of food to the stomach. We just used way too much cheese. Eric was really hungry and I always overdo it on cheese, so we just dropped in a whole wedge of grated cheese into the pot and whipped it around to make that squishily satisfying noise we all know and love. We ate the whole thing and then slept for 17 hours. Thanksgiving will be a disappointment this year, I predict.

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