April 5, 2011
Berkswell is a cheese for savoring. Its rustic appearance belies its complexity: each time we tasted this cheese, we detected new flavors. Berkswell is not a cheese for haste. It demands one’s attention, but is guaranteed to reward.
Berkswell is a firm sheep’s milk cheese from the West Midlands region of England. It is farmstead produced at Ram Hall by the Fletcher family. The cheese’s flying saucer shape is created by colanders used during its production. Berkswell is aged for about 6 months before market.
Berkswell is a sunny, rustic cheese. The colander forms used during the cheese’s production emboss the rind with a basket weave pattern. Its natural orange-tan rind feels dry and rough. Berkswell’s solid paste is lemon yellow, darkening to butterscotch near the rind. The solid cheese paste is smooth and a bit greasy.
Berkswell has a warm, pleasant aroma. Its rind smells like straw and cellar. Its interior paste smells like parmesan.
Berkswell is a full-flavored and rich cheese. Its flavors are nutty, buttery, sweet and salty. It has a lovely salted caramel flavor that is buttery, sweet and salty. Berkswell’s nutty flavor is like a light parmesan; it intensifies towards the finish. Berkswell ends with a light fruity sweetness and leaves a long butterscotch after-taste. Berkswell’s texture is chewy and grainy. The cheese feels rich and fatty in the mouth.
Berkswell is a cheese for slow savoring. At first blush, Berkswell seems like a straight-forward cheese, but its flavors are complex and demand slow eating. With its rich and fatty mouth feel, a little of this cheese goes a long way.
We all liked Berkswell, but San Francisco’s weather created havoc with our appreciation. We tasted Berkswell on an unusually hot summer-like day in Spring. The cheese’s fatty mouth feel created a heavy impression on the palate; Berkswell would be well-served by a good beverage pairing to cut its richness.
Purchase Notes: We purchased Berkswell at Cowgirl Creamery (San Francisco, CA).
February 17, 2011
Stinking Bishop is an unforgettable cheese. Long after eating, its robust flavors linger in the mouth and its stinky perfume clings to one’s fingers. Stinking Bishop is a delicious stinker, but one has to ignore its odor to enjoy this fine cheese.
Stinking Bishop is a soft cow’s milk cheese produced by Laurel Farm in Gloucestershire, England. During its production, Stinking Bishop’s curds are washed with a locally produced pear cider (called perry) before the cheese is placed into molds. As they mature, whole cheeses are dipped in perry every few weeks. The cheese is aged for up to 2 months before market.
Stinking Bishop has the soft pastel colors of Spring. The exterior rind is melon orange with tints of rose and yellow. The rind has a tight grid pattern and is tacky to the touch. The interior paste is creamy and the color of banana cream pie. The paste has many irregular shaped holes; it is pliable and gluey.
Stinking Bishop has a reputation as a super stinker: it is much deserved. Stinking Bishop has a pungent odor that is off-putting. My kids likened the rind’s aroma to a cow’s posterior. The interior paste smells wheaty, like freshly baked bread.
Stinking Bishop is distinctly savory, but is surprisingly sweet and nutty. Its has a long sour flavor, but this is given balance by a light nuttiness and fruity sweetness. Stinking Bishop leaves a long smoky sour after-taste that encourages more eating. The cheese has a creamy rich texture and excellent mouth feel.
Stinking Bishop split out tasters generationally. The adults appreciated Stinking Bishop’s robust flavors, while the juvenile tasters struggled with its pungent odor and strong flavors. Although we all liked this cheese, Stinking Bishop held more appeal with the adults.
Stinking Bishop is a good cheese for a special occasion or to share with family and friends; it is not a cheese to spring on an unsuspecting guest. Its aroma may deter eating.
Purchase Notes: We purchased Stinking Bishop at Say Cheese (San Francisco).
January 21, 2011
Montgomery’s Cheddar is a country beauty with great flavor, inviting aroma and a chewy texture. While cheddar cheese may not seem all that exciting at the cheese shop, Montgomery’s is a benchmark cheddar and should not be missed. My 11-year-old said it best about Montgomery’s: “This is what cheddar cheese should taste like.”
Montgomery’s Cheddar is farmstead produced by Manor Farm in Somerset, England. It is considered a classic example of English farmhouse cheddar, made from raw cow’s milk. Manor Farm hews to tradition when making Montgomery’s and uses a “peg mill” to cut the cheese curds. This technique affects the cheese’s texture and creates its characteristic fissures. Cheeses are aged 12-14 months before release and may age further with affineur, Neal’s Yard Dairy.
Montgomery’s is a quiet beauty. Its rind is embossed with the tight weave of its traditional cloth wrap. The rind looks like paint-brushed canvas with a palette of soft burgundy, caramel, gold, deep green, gray, and beige. The interior paste is a rich yellow, darkening to butterscotch near the rind. The paste is fissured, dry and smooth.
Montgomery’s has an inviting aroma. The interior paste smells like a meadow of rich soil, flowers, grass and herbs. Its rind smells like roasted peanuts.
Montgomery’s Cheddar has complex flavor: it is sour, tangy, fruity and nutty. There is a compelling fruitiness to this cheese that gives it balance and a full flavor. The cheese ends tangy, but its tanginess is not overwhelming or dominant. Even the after-taste of Montgomery’s has complexity, leaving sour fruit and nutty flavors on the tongue.
The cheese has a chewy texture that encourages slow eating. The cheese is prone to breaking along its fissures when slicing with a knife.
Montgomery’s is packed with flavor, yet my kids described it as a “mild” cheddar. Its flavors are very well-balanced and compelling. Montgomery’s makes a happy snacking cheese, could hold its own at a party, or be toted along for an outdoor meal. Montgomery’s Cheddar is a definite re-purchase.
Purchase Notes: We purchased Montgomery’s Cheddar at Cowgirl Creamery (San Francisco).
January 3, 2011
Cornish Yarg is a gift from nature, or so it seems. It is a sharply angular cheese, wrapped tightly in a verdant skin of nettles. The rind’s natural leaf color and pattern are immediately appealing. To boot, Cornish Yarg is delicious.
Cornish Yarg is a semi-firm cheese made from pasteurized cow’s milk. It is produced by Lynher Dairies Cheese Co. of Cornwall, England. At 2 days old, the cheese is wrapped in nettle leaves (the stinging hairs are removed). The nettles attract surface molds that help the cheese mature. Cheeses are aged 4-8 weeks before market.
Cornish Yarg is a lovely cheese (our photo does not do this cheese justice; the green tones appear too brown in our photo). The nettle wrap is a deep lush green and is naturally patterned by the leaves’ veins and edges. The green rind is flecked with white surface molds. The interior paste is banana yellow and has many small, irregular shaped holes.
Cornish Yarg’s rind has a faint musty soil aroma, while the paste’s aroma is like plain yogurt. To the touch, the cheese is a bit springy and a bit greasy.
Cornish Yarg has strong and concentrated flavor like good cheddar cheeses. Its flavors are nutty and tangy. The rind has a light mushroom flavor and adds a earthy flavor to the cheese. Cornish Yarg has an almost semi-soft texture that is crumbly on the plate and melts in the mouth.
We all liked Cornish Yarg. Although this cheese is strongly-flavored and on the tangy side, we found it accessible and enjoyable. This cheese is an easy snacking cheese and would make a great picnic cheese. Its beauty would also add visual intrigue to a party plate. I bet Cornish Yarg would be fantastic melted on anything. Cornish Yarg is a definite re-purchase.
Purchase Notes: We purchased Cornish Yarg at Cowgirl Creamery (San Francisco).
July 20, 2010
Ticklemore is a soft goat cheese from England. This cheese is made from pasteurized goat’s milk and is aged for 2-5 months. The whole cheese looks like two over-sized muffin wrappers joined together at their mouths.
Our sample of Ticklemore was a small, triangular wedge that had difficulty standing upright because of the deep groves in its rind. (Note: Our photo shows the flat bottom of the cheese; its pie-like top is on the bottom). The edible rind has ridges with tints of brown, white and beige. The interior of Ticklemore is milky white and appears very creamy near the rind, with a denser mass at its center.
Ticklemore has a slightly tangy or sour aroma. To the touch, its interior is sticky and squishy, yet its rind forms a solid crust.
Ticklemore is very creamy–almost like a double or triple cream cow’s milk cheese–and it delivers great mouth feel. Jacob noted that its texture is similar to Fromage d’Affinois or Mt. Tam. Ticklemore’s flavor is subtle, with both sweet and salt flavors present. The rind adds a bit of tanginess to the cheese, but it is not strong. There is no remarkable after-taste from this cheese.
Ticklemore is an excellent cheese and could easily become a house favorite. Its subtle flavors coupled with its silky texture make this a thoroughly enjoyable cheese. This is a very gentle goat cheese, that is unlike any of the other goat cheeses we’ve tried thus far. We could find no flaws with Ticklemore and I would not hesitate to purchase this cheese again. This is a cheese that would be great to share with family and friends at home, but not good for a lengthy summer picnic because it gets sticky when out of refrigeration.