Le Tastevin Wine Club - Notes on Cheeses – December 01, 2010

Tonight's cheese's are from the Plum Market on Orchard Lake Road. I have found that despite their higher prices they sell some of the harder-to-find, hand-made artisan cheeses, such as the cheeses below that we will taste with our Bordeaux.  The baguettes are from Whole Foods in West Bloomfield.

Lincolnshire Poacher (English, raw cows' milk) has been grouped among the world's great Cheddar cheeses along with Montgomery's, Keen's, Fiscalini Bandaged, Grafton, Upland's Pleasant Ridge Reserve, and Double Gloucester, most of which we have tasted recently at Le Tastevin, but is somewhat different in style than true English Cheddars. The texture is creamier than most other Cheddars and the flavors last and last. Poacher was invented by Simon Jones, after studying cheese making with Jamie Montgomery, in 1992 on his family farm in east England, along the North Sea, far from where most English Cheddars are made.  A farmstead cheese from the milk of only 260 Holstein "Happy Cows" (see their website for a video of why their cows are happy), it has achieved numerous awards and much renown since its third year of production.  Poacher is made from October through May and is aged 14 to 16 months.  It has a lovely sweet-butter aroma, wonderful crystalline texture reminiscent of a great Parmigiano- Reggiano without the salt, and has in incredibly long finish.  The waxy pale cheese looks like Cheddar without the cloth binding.  The rind is initially a painted on Plasticote which allows the cheese to breathe, but which eventually wears off and turns into a natural rind. Poacher's flavor is more reminiscent of a Swiss Gruyere or French Comte than a true Cheddar: deep smooth and fruity with tones of pineapple, toffee and butterscotch. Attached is a fact sheet from Neal's Yard Dairy in London about this great cheese. Enjoy!

Capitoul, Caprinelle Tomme de Cherve (French, 100% pasteurized goats' milk) is a versatile mild artisanal cheese from the coastal area of the French Basque region of the Pyrenees. The cheese in the Basque have  been made the same way for hundreds of years, from goats' grazing wild in the lush pastures of the mountains. It is similar in style and flavor to Ossau-Iraty which is made in that area from sheep's milk. The natural rind has a nutty finish and a grainy, crystal texture on the palate, similar to the rind on St. Nectaire, but the pate is smooth and bold.  The semi-hard pate is pale yellow with the typical aroma of goats' milk, with a slight nuance of salt and caramel on the finish. The cheese is aged from two to six months, with the older version being drier and nuttier than the younger, smoother version. Our cheese is aged two to three months and has a lingering, well balanced aftertaste.  Both of our cheeses tonight are very wine-friendly, particularly with Bordeaux style Cabernet or Merlot based wines.

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