Benedictine: Mixed Milk / Mixed Reaction
July 30, 2010
Benedictine is a good lesson in how one’s cheese preferences are shaped by multiple factors, not just taste. The texture of a cheese may have as much impact as its flavors on a person’s opinion. Cheese Chatter stays away from longer aged cheeses because their flakier textures are unappealing to our tasters. I’ve also learned that my kids will lap up the foulest smelling cheeses–ones that smell like dung–as long as they are velvety smooth.
So we come to Benedictine–a semi-soft mixed milk cheese made from a combination of sheep, cow and goat milks. Benedictine is a rindless cheese produced by Carr Valley Cheese Company in Wisconsin and is aged for 12 weeks. Jacob picked this cheese because he was intrigued by its mixed milks.
Benedictine is the color of cooked pasta and looks similar to Monterey Jack. Its surface is a bit spongy and smooth to the touch. Out of refrigeration, this cheese clumps into a mass under pressure from a butter knife. Even with a soft cheese knife, Benedictine adheres to the knife blade, forcing one to peel cheese slices off the knife (not very elegant or hygienic).
This cheese has a pungent scent that is tangy and sour. Its scent is similar to Cheese-Its, but more intense. Benedictine is creamy and very rich in the mouth. It is intensely salty at first, then mellows in the mouth. This cheese leaves a slightly sour flavor on the tongue, reminiscent of cow’s milk cheeses.
We were mixed in our opinion of Benedictine. The kids–who are more partial to semi-soft cheeses–both liked this cheese. I did not like its texture and found its salty introduction too loud and distracting from its other qualities. Benedictine is a bit off-balance in flavor and needs something sweet (some fruit or a beverage) to counter its intense flavors. Given our issues slicing Benedictine, this is not a cheese for a communal cheese plate or picnic.