Le Tastevin Wine Club - Notes on the Cheeses - December 02, 2009

The cheeses are from Whole Foods on Orchard Lake Road in West Bloomflield. The French "epi" loaves are once again from The Give Thanks Bakery in Rochester.

Humbolt Fog Grande - a Le Tastevin favorite from Cypress Grove in McKinleyville, CA is a goat's milk cheese. Although Cypress Grove makes many types of goat's and sheep's milk cheese, Humbolt Fog Grande is their most popular. It is an elegant, soft, surface-ripened cheese with a creamy texture and a luscious, subtle tangy flavor. Each hand-crafted wheel features a fibbon of vegetable ash which is completely edible. It is their visible signature, much like French Morbier. Goat cheeses mature quickly, and are released after about six weeks. Uncut, it has a shelf life of about 8 weeks, and you can tell how far down that path a sample is by the texture change progressing in from the rind. This sample was cut several days ago and is relatively fresh. Humbolt is a great accompaniment for white wines, especially Chardonnays and Rieslings, and for fruity Pinot Noirs.

Parrano, a cow's milk cheese from Uniekass in The Netherlands, is a cross between Gouda and Parmesan. It has a mild and nutty taste, combining salty and sweet flavors, and has a semi-firm texture and a smooth, golden color. Made from pasteurized milk, Parrano is produced in 20 lbs. wheels, and is aged for 5 months, unlike most Gouda which are aged for years. Combining the flavor of an aged Parmesan with a pliant texture, it is markedted as an Italian-style cheese. (It is advertised as "a Dutch cheese that thinks it is Italian"). However, Parrano is technically Gouda cheese, with a more pronounced flavor. It is a versatile cheese which goes with many fruity wines including Pinot Noir. Parrano won a gold medal at the 2006 World Championship Cheese Contest in Madison, Wisconsin, for "Best in Class Gouda", and was first runner-up for the World Champion Cheese Title.

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