October means good food. One of the best is cheese.
I've asked Rose Owens, a cheesemonger and friend, to explain her favorite cheeses.
|Rose with two wheels of blue cheese|
In my daily cheese life, I am frequently asked about my favorite cheeses. It's a tough question, not unlike deciding your favorite child, or your favorite thing about being alive, Somehow, I have narrowed it down to three that I will always enjoy no matter what...as well as the flavors I find within them. Join me!
Comte Marcel Petite Essex
This magnificent cow's milk cheese from France is truly a king among its brethren. Comte is an Alpine style that is reminiscent of Gruyere, Appenzeller, and other large wheels from Europe. To me, however, Comte is so much more than just a cheese from a particular region. My ideal cheeses are the wheels made with summer milk, which brings out fresh, vibrant tones (the grasses the cows graze upon are freshest). These wheels taste like sunshine, rocky grassy mountain ranges, falling in love, the deep happiness that strikes you at random and highlights your day. It's the perfect cheese, and I could spend the rest of my days eating it!
Epoisses is a washed-rind cheese that has been continually wiped or bathed in a liquid that lends particular flavors to the rind, traveling into the paste of the cheese as well. Epoisses is washed in Marc, a liqueur distilled from leftover grapes that have been pressed. Because of this, the cheese has a very strong aroma, characterized by some as quite "stinky." Fun fact: when a cheeses smells particularly intense, this does not mean the cheese itself will taste quite as funky; be brave and give it a try! Epoisses has a wonderful choir of flavors to me. I taste bourbon, vanilla, meat, and passion! That's right, passion itself!
Mothais au Feuille Dantan
Ok, you caught me. I love many cheeses, but the French ones really do a number on me. This cheese is the BEST goat cheese I have ever had the fortune to try. It is made by Fromagerie Poitou, and they seem to have made a deal with the devil, because this cheese absolutely sends me. This cheese is woodsy, with hints of lemon Starburst and fresh clean pillows. Eating this cheese brings me into a forest, where I'm bundled up in a cozy turtleneck, and the leaves swirling around me sing a song of eternal comfort and joy. There are many goat cheeses that dance me to the moon and back, but Mothais does so every single time.
Basically, I learned about tasting cheese by doing just that: tasting cheese over and over and over again. Your intuitions are best; connect the flavors you savor with foods or taste you already know. There's nothing wrong with saying a cheese tastes like "Cheetos" or "bubblegum" or "beef jerky." Your experiences are real because they are yours! Cherish your tastebuds and taste everything. Come and visit me and we can experience it together!
Rose Owens comes from vibrant stock: the windswept fishermen of Newfoundland and the swarthy romantics of Italy. Her parents taught her to love food with ferocity, and so she has tried to put that into words. She is the Cheese Department Head at Bi-Rite Market on 18th Street in the Mission in San Francisco.
If you would like to take a cheese-tasting trip to meet Rose, let me know. And thank you, Rose, for writing this blog for Postcards in the Air!