Last night at the second ‘class’ of my Cheese Course, I like to think some people experienced something of a revelatory moment!
I presented a trio of camemberts, and we absolutely ‘got’ the difference between a perfectly nice, ordinary supermarket Camembert, (which was a delight with a simple Chenin Blanc from South Africa) and a properly ripe, Normandy artisanal camembert (the Pierre de la Grangette from Teddington Cheese). The latter had a gorgeous, unctuous flavour, which went surprisingly well with the Pinot Noir 2012 Greywacke, Marlborough . However the third Camembert, Calvados-washed and rolled in walnuts and breadcrumbs was a disappointment – we were prepared to forgive the toffee like appearance, but found the taste unappealing and unappetisingly intense.
We also explored the matching between cheese and beer and cider, and perhaps it was no surprise that the best match was between the four year old Ould Broekkel Gouda with a traditional ale.
The majority found the Sottocenere al Tartufo, a truffle infused cheese from the Veneto with an ash rind (some ate the rind some didn’t), too overpowering for any wine, but the Taleggio from Lombardy, and the Le Massadel from the Pyrenees were lovely matches for the three Italian wines (Chianti Classico and Sangiovese mentioned above plus the Verdicichio 2013 from Cantine di Belissario).
We really pushed ourselves to explore how different cheeses match different wines, and most of us agreed by the end of the evening that the traditional approach towards the end of a meal, of a cheese board consisting of a hard cheese, a soft cheese, a goat’s cheese and a blue cheese, washed down with whatever big oaky red is already on the table, is not the best way to do the cheese course justice. I for one have resolved that I am going to offer a small number of cheeses, similar enough to go with one well-chosen wine (possibly from the same region as the cheeses), but different enough to stimulate the taste buds.
There were mixed views about how cheeses worked with some of the traditional accompaniments such as chutney, quince paste, grapes and celery, and we had a short debate about whether we should be buttering our bread or crackers (yes for ploughman’s, no for cheese course).
I was determined to expose some cheese etiquette faux-pas, and demonstrated the perils of cutting cheese incorrectly. I hope that everyone who attended the class will never again cut the ‘nose’ off the end of a wedge of Brie, rather cutting diagonal slices to keep the wedge shape. I also exposed the folly of fancy but non-functional cheese knives of different shapes, sizes and colours – a simple cheese knife with holes (to stop the cheese sticking to it!) is all that most cheese boards need.
Well, I’m glad I got all that off my chest. Next week we delve into the world of goat’s cheese.