Sing Oh the Hard Cheese of Old England

Y’all KNOW I love me the cheese and I have been known to bother the Whole Foos cheese merchants until they load me down with half a paycheck of tasty cheese for dinner. So when Tomato Nation went and ran a cheese ladder (called the NCCheeseAA. Heh) I decided I was going to get in on some cheese bracket voting. Why not? It’s free and CHEESE!

Alas, I’m letting y’all know about this much too late because I do believe the voting has progressed to the final four or more (I’m a little confused by the bracket visual). But it all started out with four different divisions of cheese: Deli, Whole Foos, Stinky, and General Grocery. Or something. I was pretty good with the Grocery cheeses and not bad with the deli but half of the Whole Foos was completely Greek and sadly, most of the stinky cheeses were unknown entities. I mean Burrata? Form d’Ambert? And don’t even get me started on Garrotxa, it sounds like some sort of bacterial infection.

Thus, I made up my mind to write down some of these strange cheeses and find Matt the Whole Foos Cheese God for explanations. BTW, the moniker is not mine: Apparently his expertise with cheeses runs deep and wide among the Whole Foos land. He is their Yogi of cheese. I should have printed out the bracket but instead I wrote down some of the funner or odder sounding cheeses and off we went. With a little cheese coaching and my list, TheMan and I decided on six cheeses to try out: Sage Derby, Stilton, Raclette, Banon, Double Gloucester, and Ossau-Iraty. We also picked up a white wine, red wine, some port, a baguette and pepper crackers just to round things out.

By far, the Stilton was the winner. Weird! TheMan doesn’t even like blue cheese and he was ALL about the Stilton. It’s not so fungal-y and it’s surprisingly salty but in a delicious cheesy way. It went amazingly well with port and the pepper crackers. Yum. I’m not sure I’d agree with the “King of Cheeses” name but Stilton is certainly the Duke or Earl of cheese tastiness.

Double Gloucester was extolled for it creaminess and…I guess doubleness but TheMan and I decided that ordinary Gloucester would have done the trick. It’s got a depth of creaminess which is nice but it’s also sort of mild cheddar-y in a way that made us wish it was a tad more flavorful. It did go remarkably well with the baguette and I’d guess it shines making other sandwich fixings taste better. It’s like the vanilla of cheese, which is cool but TheMan and I would prefer a straight cheddar to Double Gloucester.

Sage Derby is pronounced “darby” for those of you who don’t know. Which was me at the cheese shop. Fortunately, TheMan ordered up this one and said it right and off it went into the basket. It certainly was sage-y and crumbly and even a tad harsh. It had attitude though and went well on a cracker and with red wine.

Raclette is our new brie. It melts! TheMan doesn’t much like him the brie but he did like Raclette and I can’t see where anything you do to brie you can’t also do to Raclette. Besides, you can fondue Raclette and I bet it makes a mean grilled cheese. It’s softish with a good flavor and offers up no offence. Good cheese.

We also got some sheep cheese in the form of Ossau-Iraty which we kept calling Osmosis-Irritable. It’s similar to the Raclette but not as tasty. It has a little bit more bite than the Raclette but goes well on a cracker or baguette. It was a white wine cheese but alas, I did not like the white wine we got so the pairing didn’t do it for me. We came, we tried, I think we will leave the osmosis-irritable at the cheese shop next time.

Lastly, we picked up a soft goat cheese called Banon. Actually, O’Banon and I’m not sure what all that is about. The Tomato Lady just has Banon listed so… Anyway, this cheese was wrapped in wine soaked masticated chestnut leaves which…who did the masticating? I kinda wanted to know that before setting off to try the cheese but they don’t tell you that sort of thing on the wrapper. I guess it’s one of those yuppie goodie things that you aren’t supposed to question. The Banon was, I think, the loser of the night. It was soft but crumbly like blue cheese without the blue. It sort of tasted like the white part of blue cheese all sharp and bitey with an edge of sour. There was a hint of wine which was cool but we weren’t impressed and probably won’t be getting Banon again. It did go well with a companion glop of Stilton, but I think most everything would go well with a companion glop of Stilton.

Stilton FTW!

2007: No cheeses of any nation.

2006: Not even a Stilton.

2005: It was a bad time for cheeses apparently.

2004: JSFR: Porute (Whipped Cream)

2003: Two loonies in line or two future Alzheimer patients…you decide!

One Response to “Sing Oh the Hard Cheese of Old England”

  1. Sean K. Says:

    Stilton is indeed a great cheese, though I am a fan of bleu cheese in general, so it’s no surprise that I like Stilton. Of the other ones you tried, Double Gloucester is the only other one I’ve had. It is decent, but not very strong.

    One of the neatest cheeses I’ve tried, and you can’t find it everywhere, is Dutch Leyden with cumin seeds. Assuming that you like cumin, that stuff is out of this world!

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