Le Tastevin Wine Club – Notes on Cheeses – September 21, 2011

Tonight's cheese and baguettes are from the Whole Foods market on Orchard Lake Road in West Bloomfield. Both of these firm cheeses were made from pasteurized cow's milk, and are club favorite having last been tasted at Le Tastevin two years ago.

Piave is made from a cooperative diary in the province of Beiluno, north of Venice, where farmers pool their milk and make the cheese jointly. It is a relatively recent addition to Italy's cheese lineup, debuting in 1960, but is now the area's best selling cheese. Piave is a full favored cheese similar to but lighter, younger and milder than Parmigiano-Reggiano. Piave is sold at three stages: fresco or fresh, twenty to sixty days old; mezzano or semi-aged two to six months old: and Vecchio, or aged, more than six months old. Our version is the Vecchio production by Lattebusche which has been aged 12 months. Piave shows the beginnings of crystallization but is not as hard and crumbly as Parmigiano. Piave has an affinity for crusty bread and both red and white wine. going best with medium and full bodied red wines such as Merlots and Super Tuscans. "Here is a cheese with a heart of Gold--hard and rough on the surface and sweetly nutty underneath. With its dry, crunchy texture, its flavors of tropical fruits and almonds, and its long sweet finish, this popular favorite is likened to the King of Italian Cheese-Parmigiano-Reggiano" (Murray's Cheese Handbook).

Unikaas Reserve Aged Gouda - a traditional cow's milk Gouda (pronounced Howda) from the Netherlands. Uniekaas is the country's largest cheese producer. but they still hand make several Artisanal cheeses such as this reserve. Our Gouda tonight has been aged 18-24 months. which makes it not as hard and crumbly as the 3-5 year aged versions. This is a firm, textured Gouda with a mild salt flavor and a perfect hazelnut finish. As Gouda ages it gains a deep golden color with hints of the flavor of butterscotch, and properly aged it is grainy, salty, tangy and is somewhat sharp with a long finish. Gouda pairs best with Red Wines that have a toasty, raisiny quality such as the Super Tuscan and merlot based wines. "If you like a firm, dense, crystalline almost crumbly cheese with deep mouthwatering flavors and a lingering aftertaste, this is the one for you" (Cheese: A Connoisseur's Guide).

For those desiring a milder, less sharp alternative cheese, we have a block of Jarlsberg semi-soft part-skim from Norway as our back-up.

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