March 26, 2011
Pata Cabra is a quirky goat cheese. It has an intriguing flavor that we were challenged to describe, but had us thinking about meadow flowers. While Pata Cabra appealed to some of our tasters, its flavor and texture gave others pause.
Pata Cabra (also called Queso Patacabra) is a semi-soft cheese from the Aragon region of Spain. It is a washed rind cheese made with pasteurized goat’s milk. It is produced in a large brick format and aged for about 3 weeks before market.
The whole cheese resembles a loaf of rustic bread (our sample is a cross-wise slice of the loaf). Pata Cabra’s natural rind gives a golden crust-like skin to the cheese. The interior paste is milky white and has flat oval holes. To the touch, the cheese paste is greasy and springy.
Although this cheese is described elsewhere as pungent, our sample was aromatically tame (perhaps our cheese was young). Pata Cabra’s paste smells like melted butter and baked cheese crackers. The rind smells like cooked broccoli.
Pata Cabra has an interesting flavor. It has a light sour flavor and some tanginess that is similar to American sour cream, but neither flavor lingers. Pata Cabra’s more dominant flavor is buttery, sweet and floral. On the tongue, the cheese is thick and chewy.
Pata Cabra received mixed reviews. Our juvenile tasters both liked Pata Cabra, as it combined their love of semi-soft cheeses with a washed rind. Our adults tasters were less impressed with its “rubbery texture” and “cooked” flavor. Pata Cabra’s flavor is intriguing, yet it may not have universal appeal.
Purchase Notes: We purchased Pata Cabra from Cowgirl Creamery (San Francisco). Our slice was about .25-pounds.
March 20, 2011
Dallenwiler Wychas is a relatively mild and pleasant goat cheese. It is a friendly and approachable cheese with a sweet nutty flavor that should have broad appeal.
Dallenwiler Wychas is a firm cheese from the Oswalden region of Switzerland. It is made from pasteurized goat’s milk by Odermatt Kaserei. The cheese is produced in small chunky wheels that weigh under 2-pounds (800 grams). The cheese is washed daily with red wine during its 3-month maturation.
Dallenwiler Wychas looks like a goat cheese rolled in charcoal, but its hard rind is natural. Its dark gray and brown rind has a tight bubble pattern that gives it a rubber tread look. The cheese’s bone colored paste is marred with compressed holes. To the touch, the cheese is smooth and solid.
Dallenwiler Wychas’ interior paste has a pleasant scent of roasted nuts, but its rind smells of musty cellar, barnyard stink, and wet hay.
Dallenwiler Wychas’ flavor is sweet and nutty. It has a gentle tanginess at first, but is then predominantly sweet roasted nuts. It leaves a mild nutty after taste. The cheese has a chewy texture that is slightly rubbery. Although its rind is edible, it gives the cheese an unappealing chalkiness.
We all liked Dallenwiler Wychas a lot. We found the cheese’s sweet nutty flavor and chewy texture appealing. We polished off our entire purchase of this cheese during our tasting and my kids said it was their favorite cheese of the night. I would re-purchase this cheese again; it would make a good stand-alone cheese or would do well paired with other cheeses on a plate.
Purchase Notes: We purchased Dallenwiler Wychas at Cowgirl Creamery (San Francisco). In 2011, I have seen this cheese irregularly at Cowgirl Creamery.
March 17, 2011
Ascutney Mountain is a delicious cheese that calls up comparisons to classic Swiss mountain cheeses. This US-made cheese is like a younger version of Appenzeller. It does not deliver Appenzeller’s concentrated flavor, but its flavors are similar and very accessible.
Ascutney Mountain is farmstead produced by Cobb Hill Cheese, Vermont. Cobb Hill is a farm-based community whose residents produce 2 cheeses along with other farm goods through cooperative enterprises. Ascutney Mountain is a firm cheese made from raw cow’s milk. The cheese is produced in 10-pound wheels and aged for at least 8 months before market.
Ascutney Mountain is a solid cheese with a natural nutmeg brown rind. The paste is deep yellow and darkens to golden brown near the rind. The cheese paste is marked with many irregular-shaped holes. To the touch, the paste is firm and slightly greasy.
Ascutney Mountain’s rind has a musty cellar scent; the paste smells like freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Ascutney Mountain tastes like a softer–or younger–Appenzeller. Ascutney Mountain has the tangy and nutty flavors of Appenzeller, yet they are less intense. Ascutney Mountain has sweet fruity and warm buttery flavors that balance its nutty tanginess. In the mouth, Ascutney Mountain has a chewy texture with crystallized granules that invite slow eating. After eating, a sour nuttiness lingers.
Ascutney Mountain was a big hit at our table. It is a lovely cheese with warm flavor and a nice texture. Interestingly, our juvenile tasters found Ascutney Mountain more accessible than Appenzeller. Like a good Swiss classic, Ascutney Mountain is easy to eat and needs no accompaniment.
Purchase Notes: We purchased Ascutney Mountain at Cowgirl Creamery (San Francisco).