Lampchopper

Lamp Chopper

Lamb Chopper is a sheep’s milk gouda made in Holland specifically for Cypress Grove Chevre (of Arcata, California).  Lamb Chopper is a firm cheese made from pasteurized milk and is aged for 3 months.  It has a dark waxed rind.

The interior of Lamb Chopper is a pleasant beige, turning to a deeper gold at the rind.  The surface of the cheese has small, shallow dimples yet is otherwise smooth to the touch. Lamp Chopper is easier to slice than the aged gouda we tried in early June and does not have the aged gouda’s flakiness.

Lamb Chopper’s scent is akin to parmesan “with more pump.”  The odor is tangy and sharp, but not unpleasant.

The flavor of Lamb Chopper is similar to an aged gouda or sharp cheddar in that its flavor is tangy and salty.  However, we found Lamb Chopper more mellow and with creamier mouth feel than the aged gouda we tried in early June.  Lamb Chopper’s flavor does not linger on the tongue.

Lamb Chopper failed to win over Ben and Jacob and neither suggested that I buy this cheese again. Since neither was a big fan of the aged gouda, I am curious to explore if there are any gouda-style cheeses that will catch their fancy.

Lamb Chopper is more mellow than an aged gouda in color, initial flavor and aftertaste. This would be a nice cheese to share with family (especially those with small kids) or take on a picnic.

Carmody

Carmody

Carmody is a semi-soft cheese made from pasteurized cow’s milk by Bellwether Farms in Sonoma County (California). This cheese is a youngster–aged for just 6 weeks.

Carmody has a light yellow interior that darkens towards a hard lemon yellow rind. The surface of Carmody is irregularly  pocked and cratered.

Carmody’s texture has a lot of character.  It seems that during the making of Carmody, the cheese curds were pressed together just enough to create a unified substance, but not so much that they removed the space between individual curds.  It slices easily, but sometimes fragments because of its “airy” texture.  Carmody’s texture is close to Havarti.

The cheese’s scent is not powerful and is reminiscent of Jack cheese.  Its rind has a faint hint of blue cheese odor beneath the wax, but this is not detected elsewhere on the cheese.

Carmody is soft and smooth on the tongue.  It has a taste similar to a good farmhouse Jack cheese.   Ben described Carmody as, “Slightly tangy, but very sweet and easily downed.”  Both Ben and Jacob liked this cheese a lot and suggested that I buy it again.

Carmody is a mild, undemanding cheese that is easy to enjoy.  Carmody would be a nice farmhouse substitute for Jack cheese.  I bet Carmody would be great melted or would make a fantastic grilled-cheese sandwich.  With its mild flavor and smooth texture, Carmody is comfort food–a definite pleaser for kids of any age.

Abbaye-de-Belloc

Abbaye de Bel'loc

Abbaye de Bel’loc is a semi-hard cheese from the Pyrenees region of France.  This cheese is made from pasteurized sheep’s milk by Benedictine monks at the abbey of Notre Dame de Bel’loc.

Abbaye de Bel’loc is a pale, pale yellow through its interior and darkens towards its rind. A thin slice held up to the light appears translucent. Abbaye de Bel’loc’s inedible rind is dimpled with dark brown, white and black.

On a soft-to-hard spectrum of cheeses, this cheese is firmer than a semi-soft cheese yet is not as hard as an aged cheese.  Its surface is firm, smooth and unmarred by dimples or holes.  It slices beautifully with a sharp knife.

Abbaye de Bel’loc has tangy odor that is detectable within 4 inches of the nose, yet it is not off-putting.  Jacob likened its scent to parmesan cheese.

The flavor of Abbaye de Bel’loc is somewhat tangy, but not nearly as tangy as an aged cheese.  Jacob said that it tasted like freshly grated parmesan, but I thought it more mild than that.  The cheese’s lingering aftertaste is slightly stronger than its initial flavors, but not unpleasant or cloying.  Abbaye de Bel’loc’s aftertaste serves as a gentle reminder to take another slice!

We all liked this cheese, but neither of the boys liked it enough to insist that I purchase it again.

Abbaye de Bel’loc is a smooth and uncomplicated cheese that is easy to like.  I think this would be a great cheese to linger over with family and friends or to put on a party plate.

fromage-d-affinois

Fromage d'Affinois

Fromage d’Affinois  is a double cream cheese from France of pasteurized cow’s milk.  The interior of the cheese is creamy white and soft to runny.  Its rind is raked white with a yellowish cast.

Fromage d’Affinois has a creamy, moist interior and smooth texture.  It is easy to spread, rind included.  Jacob likened its texture to American cream cheese.  It reminded me of French brie.

Fromage d’Affinois’s flavor is more delicate than French brie.  Both Ben and Jacob said that this cheese had an initial sour taste, but ended sweetly.  The rind adds a slight sourness to the cheese but it lacks the nasally bite of French brie’s distinctive rind.

We all liked this cheese and both boys would be happy to see this on our plates again. One side note: our sample began to loose shape during our meal, so this is not a good cheese to leave out of refrigeration for more than 45-60 minutes (photo shown was taken at 30 minutes out of refrigerator on a cool day).

Fromage d’Affinois is a nice cheese and would be great at the end of a meal.  It is a quiet cheese–unassuming and easy to enjoy.  Given its runny nature when at room temperature too long, this is not a picnic cheese and may look sloppy on a party plate.


Humboldt_fog

Humboldt Fog

Humboldt Fog is an aged goat cheese from the U.S.  This is a chevre-style, semi-soft cheese. It is produced by Cypress Grove Chevre in California.

Humboldt Fog is a beautiful cheese.  Its center is parched white and turns slightly darker towards the rind.  There is a thin layer of greyish-blue vegetable ash that runs horizontally through the cheese and another ash layer that separates the cheese from its rind.

This cheese’s scent was hard to pinpoint.  Both Ben and Jacob said its scent reminded them of aged cow’s milk cheeses, but Humboldt Fog’s scent was comparatively sweeter.

Humboldt Fog has a creamy smooth texture yet it is chalky like a chevre.  The ash on the edge of the cheese is not as smooth as the cheese’s interior, but the ash does not interfere with the cheese’s overall texture.

The ash layers do, however, affect Humboldt Fog’s taste.  Without the ash layer, the cheese tastes like a good chevre–mildly tangy.  When Humboldt Fog is tasted with the ash and rind, the cheese has more sweetness and its tanginess is balanced-out.  Ben said this cheese has, “A great aftertaste.”

Humboldt Fog is a fantastic cheese.  It’s layer of vegetable ash adds beauty, flavor and texture to an otherwise good chevre and makes this an outstanding cheese to share with family and friends.

Last week we went cheese shopping with little criteria or agenda.  We were open to anything the cheesemonger suggested.  Ben and Jacob selected the cheeses without my input.  The result: we came home with 3 relatively safe cheeses all made from pasteurized cow’s milk.  Matt, our uber critic, challenged the boys to “do better” the next time.

This week, Ben and I went shopping determined to be more adventurous.   As we left home, Jacob warned, “Don’t get anything too tangy.”  We also had Father’s Day to consider and wanted cheeses that Matt would like, so Ben suggested we stick to spreadable or semi-soft cheeses.  We agreed to vary the cheeses by animal and get one each from cow, goat and sheep.

We left the cheese shop with: Fromage d’Affinois, a double-cream cheese from cow’s milk; Humboldt Fog, an aged goat cheese; and, Abbaye de Bel’loc, a monastery cheese made from sheep’s milk.  We will report on our tastings of these cheeses in the coming week.

Dutch Gouda, Aged 2 Years

Gouda, Aged 2 Years

Gouda can be a young semi-soft cheese or an aged hard cheese.  We tried a dutch Gouda that had been aged for 2 years.  This cheese is made from cow’s milk. Our sample of Aged Gouda is the color of uncooked pasta, deepening in color towards the rind. Ben noticed that it’s hard surface was slippery like glass yet uneven with some dimples and bulges.  Jacob said the cheese had an aroma similar to parmesan cheese. The cheese is hard and dense with a thick rind.  Use a sharp knife with this cheese as it is hard to cut.  Slices flake from the cheese. A small flake packs a lot of flavor.  Jacob and Ben agreed that this cheese is tangy–very tangy.  Ben commented that it had an even tangier after taste (we need to develop a tang-o-meter to scale cheeses on this adjective).  Neither was willing to buy it again.  I’m partial to hard aged cheeses and I liked it.  Matt was ambivalent. The 2-year Aged Gouda may not warrant a second try for us, but it would make a fitting end to a rustic meal.