7th Day of Cheese – Ossau Iraty

Ossau Iraty

Made in the Ossau Valley near the Irati—the biggest beech forest in Europe— this cheese is aged on beechwood boards. The AOC regulations stipulate that only 
raw, unpasteurized milk be used. Some wheels are stuffed with Espelette peppers.

Cheese Profile

FLAVOUR Medium
TASTE Ranges from sweet, herbal and grassy to sheepy, followed by an acidic tang on the finish.
SMELL Lactic and fresh with a herbal aroma.
RIND Thick and crusty, often with dusty white patches. The colour ranges from light tan to coppery orange. An image of a sheep’s head and number are embossed on fermier wheels.
INTERIOR Firm texture with small irregular holes and cracks. Off-white in colour; occasionally with pale yellow blotches throughout the paste.
FABULOUS Firm interior without too many cracks and a sweet herbal aroma.
FAR-GONE Dry paste full of cracks with large mould spots near the rind and dull soapy taste.

Best way to enjoy
Ossau Iraty is amazing served on wedges with sweet preserves from your local farmers market.

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Cheese Info

COUNTRY France
REGION Basque
MILK TYPE Sheep
RENNET TYPE Animal
AGED 4 Months
PRODUCER Valleé D’ Aspe

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6th Day of Cheese – Queso de Valdeón

Queso de Valdeón

12daysofcheeseplatter_day6Cheese Profile

FLAVOUR Full flavoured
TASTE Creamy and buttery, with a strong spicy and tangy finish.
SMELL Mixture of damp leaves with a spicy musty odour.
RIND Wrapped in Sycamore leaves, the rind is dry, thin, pale brown, with patches of white.
UPDATE:
Due to new strict regulations exported Queso Valdeon is now wrapped in foil with an image of leaves instead of being wrapped in real Sycamore leaves.
INTERIOR Firm, yet crumbles into a creamy texture; the inside is filled with numerous large and small cavities lined with a blue mould. The paste ranges from bright white to a pale tan colour.
FABULOUS Firm, bright white past, exposed mould looks bright with a velvety texture.
FAR-GONE Soggy leaves, dark brown around the edges, a rancid smell and damp sticky rind.

Best way to enjoy
Works well in a blue cheese sauce, for pasta or forest mushrooms. A wonderful addition to any cheese plate with dried figs, apricots and chilled grapes to cleanse the palate.

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Cheese Info

COUNTRY Spain
REGION Picos De Europa
MILK TYPE Mix of Goat & Cow
RENNET TYPE Animal
AGED 1.5 – 2 Months
PRODUCER Queserías Picos de Europa

12daysofcheesequessodevaldeon

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5th Day of Cheese – Comté

Comté

Ensuring that the milk is as fresh as possible, the milk for making Comté isn’t allowed to travel more than 20 Kms from where the cows are milk.

Cheese Profile

FLAVOUR Full flavoured
TASTE A rich flavour of nuts with grassy notes. Older wheels have a fruity finish.
SMELL Nutty, with a herbal, fruity essence.
RIND Natural crust, rubbed in a morge solution to encourage rind development.
INTERIOR Supple and dense, with protein crystals scattered throughout when aged for over a year. The colour is dark golden yellow turning almost tan towards the edges.
FABULOUS Dry, firm and dense, with few or no cracks.
FAR-GONE Slight pink colouration on the edges; a damp tacky rind that sticks to your fingers with a strong ammonia smell.

Best way to enjoy
A vital part of French cooking or cheese plates, Comté adds an amazing depth of flavour to a fondue or grilled cheese sandwich on sourdough bread.


Cheese Info

COUNTRY France
REGION Jura, Franche Comte
MILK TYPE Cow
RENNET TYPE Animal
AGED 4 Months – 4 Years
PRODUCER Comte

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4th Day of Cheese – Piave

Piave

An Italian, grana-style cheese, where the milk is skimmed before production to prevent spoiling and allowing the cheese to age for longer periods of time. Named after the river which flows through the region, Piave has DOP status under European Union regulations. Authentic Piave is produced in the Dolomites mountain range, in the province of Veneto.

 

Cheese Profile

FLAVOUR Medium
TASTE Nutty and sweet with an almond-like bitterness.
SMELL Rich and earthy with a faint aroma of nuts
RIND A thin, smooth natural rind, vibrant ochre in colour, embossed with the Piave name.
INTERIOR Hard, dense, and smooth in texture with occasional crunchy bits.
FABULOUS Dry rind with a dense hard texture, with occasional crunch bits (protein crystals).
FAR-GONE Becomes soapy and bitter if stored improperly.

Best way to enjoy
Grate over your favourite pasta dish or mixed greens salad. For a cheese plate, cut into cubes and serve with dried fruit and nuts. 


Cheese Info

COUNTRY Italy
REGION Veneto
MILK TYPE Cow
RENNET TYPE Vegetarian
AGED 3 – 18 Months
PRODUCER Agriform

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3rd Day of Cheese – Manchego

Manchego

Manchego comes from Castilla La Mancha in Spain. There are 65 producers, 35 make raw milk Manchego.

 

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Cheese Profile

FLAVOUR Medium
TASTE Nutty and sheepy, with a slightly salty finish.
SMELL Fresh and milky with a sheepy fragrance.
RIND A thin layer of wax coating with a distinct zigzag pattern on the edge which represents espatro grass which used to make traditional Manchego moulds.
INTERIOR Firm with many tiny irregular holes; the texture is dry but with a balanced amount of moisture. A faint yellow colour, that darkens around the edges when aged.
FABULOUS Firm dense texture with a slightly sweet aroma.
FAR-GONE Rind slides off when touched, extremely crystalline, bitter and sweaty on the finish.

Best way to enjoy
 Fragrant herbs such as rosemary make the perfect fresh accent for this earthy aged Spanish cheese. Versatile, it can be used with mashed root vegetables or a salad vinaigrette, shaved and marinated in olive oil.

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Cheese Info

COUNTRY Spain
REGION Castilla La Mancha
MILK TYPE Sheep
RENNET TYPE Animal
AGED 2 – 24 Months
PRODUCER Quesos Coqueya

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2nd Day of Cheese – Red Leicester

Red Leicester

Red Leicester can be a Kosher cheese. There are various styles of Red Leicester including a blend with Indian chutney mixed into the cheese.

“Leicestershire” refers to the region in England where this cheese is from, and it’s a hard word for many folks to pronounce. The English themselves shortened the spelling of the cheese to “Leister” and the pronunciation to “Lester”.

 

During WW2, food colouring agents were banned, so “Red” was dropped from the name and the cheese suddenly sported a glowing white interior.

Cheese Profile

FLAVOUR Mild
TASTE Sweet caramel with a slight hint of earthiness.
SMELL Faint barnyardy aroma with sweet notes of mushroom and caramel finish.
RIND Peel off the brown cloth before eating. The edible rind is reddish-orange with a powdery mould on it.
INTERIOR Firm fudge-like texture, and scattered with irregular small holes. The colour is bright orange due to the addition of annatto. Sometimes small blue veins are present, which add flavour.
FABULOUS Firm texture with a sweet earthy aroma. Dry, dark-coloured cloth on the outside.
FAR-GONE Edges soft and brown, sour damp musty smell and slightly bitter taste.
Best way to enjoy
 Grated or cubed, a nice Cheddar alternative that melts smoothly into sauces, adds colour to any cheeseboard and is a yummy addition to salads.

Cheese Info

COUNTRY United Kingdom
REGION Leicestershire
MILK TYPE Cow
RENNET TYPE Animal
AGED 3- 6 Months
PRODUCER Long Clawson Dairy

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1st Day of Cheese – St. Agur

St. Agur

St. Agur comes from the Auvergne region in central France, it is a soft creamy cheese with a decent amount of blue. The ageing process is about 2 months, then wrapped in foil.12daysofcheeseplatter_day1

 

The amount of blue isn’t overwhelming and I find people are pleasantly surprised when they try it. There is a bit of sweetness that comes from the double cream in combination with a slight mustiness of the blue on the finish. 

Cheese Profile

FLAVOUR Full Flavour
TASTE Rich and creamy balanced with a mild 
 blue bite.
SMELL Spicy and rich with a hint of salt and
sweet tangy finish.
RIND No rind; the foil wrapper stops unwanted mould growth.
INTERIOR Dense yet soft with a bright white paste and many small mouldy caverns.
FABULOUS A soft texture; cavities covered in velvety green and grey moulds.
FAR-GONE Almost liquid texture with extra surface mould; smells like peroxide.
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Best way to enjoy
Spread on a cracker or add to a blue cheese dressing. Reach the next level of delicious by melting on grilled steak.

newsletter_TEMPLATECheese Info

COUNTRY France
REGION Auvergne
MILK TYPE Cow
RENNET TYPE Animal
AGED 2 Months
PRODUCER Fromagerie Bongrain

 

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12 Days of Cheese

12-days-of-cheese

Join me for 12 Days of Cheese

Starting December 8th, I will be posting unusual and tasty cheeses that will be awesome for holiday platters or your own DYI Cheese Advent Calendar!

If you want more inspiration, check out the 29 unusual fine cheeses featured in my e-book, How to Say Cheese. In addition to more platter ideas, there are tips on which rinds are toxic and how to tell if your cheese is fresh or ready for the bin.

How to make a cheese advent calendar!
Click on the photo for instructions on how to make your own cheese Advent calendar.

Check back often to for ideas on your next flavour discovery and which retailers from around the globe will be joining me. Better yet, sign up for my cheese club newsletter to find out first hand what cheese counters in your area carry these unusual and tasty selections. Some retailers may have holiday discounts on the featured cheeses.

 

Nuit D’Or

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Nuit D’Or

A wee stinker from Burgundy, France. Produced by Delin, a small family run company who concentrate on making several amazing cheeses. Made of cow’s milk, this one for me stands out. Washing the orange and sticky rind evolves the flavour.

The flavour is fruity and a bit yeasty, but it never seems to get too strong. The paste is nice and doughy, the rind is bright orange colour and sticky.

Cheese Profile

FLAVOUR Full Flavour
TASTE Rich and fruity with a slight salty tang on the finish
SMELL Pungent with a bit of a yeasty and musty odour
RIND Soft wet and sticky and remains stuck to your fingers, coppery orange in colour
INTERIOR Soft and doughy with a few small holes in the middle, chalky if younger
FABULOUS Pungent with a sticky rind and the flavour doesn’t linger for too long
FUNKY Slimy rind and the flavour is intense, almost sour and bitter at the same time

Cheese Info

COUNTRY France
REGION Burgundy
MILK TYPE Cow
RENNET TYPE Animal
AGED 1 Month
Best way to enjoy
Stinky cheeses are best when left on the counter for a least 1 hour before hand, this gets the flavours going and the texture nice and soft.