Entertaining, Profiles

Tasting notes: The “vintage” brigade and whiskey cheddar

The air quotes come from my sideye at referring to cheese as “vintage” (see here). But don’t get me started on that again. I want to share the tasting notes I typed furiously into my phone before devouring the spread I got at St. Lawrence Market. I served some of these (plus herbed goat cheese and Le Rang Des Iles, which sadly didn’t make it to my notes) at my housewarming along with olives, jam, marinated portobello mushroom, artichoke and cherry peppers.

Cheese board

Highland Chief with Single Malt Whiskey

  • First impression: Dry, liquor taste
  • Sour like aged cheddar in the cheeks
  • Development of whiskey flavour is reminiscent of mould at first, but becomes sweet
  • Strong liquorice notes in whiskey flavour
  • Subtle caramel in the background
  • Slightly smoky, mellow finish
  • Clean with little bitterness
  • Incredibly creamy, like buttercream

Uniekaas Vintage 3 Year Old Gouda

  • First impression: Sweet like liqueur
  • Like a great fondue with beer or wine already added
  • Bitter like stout, slightly salty
  • Sweetness shines through, a little grassy
  • Similar to Beemster but stronger flavour
  • Creamy-firm texture with slight crystallization
  • Would be fantastic with something tart-sweet like currants (post-note: Had raspberry jam with it = perfect)

Oak Manor Vintage Cheddar
(You won’t see this one in the picture above, the cheese boards I served at my housewarming, because my boyfriend devoured it in almost one sitting. It’s a snacking cheese for sure.)

  • First impression: Smoked hay or grass
  • Sweet like an aged cheddar, then smoky
  • Progresses to deep caramel
  • Slight bitterness like coffee or hops
  • More lightly acidic than creamy
  • Not crumbly like traditional old cheddar, more dense and chewy

If you read the previous post, you’ll see that Le Rang Des Iles is missing from my tasting notes. Sorry about that. I saved it for my housewarming and thought I’d have a scrap left to study. Wrong-o. I remember it was stronger than a light bloomy rind like Camembert, but not as intense as a Sauvagine or a similar smelly slice. Creamy. Crumbly rind when chewed. Also, your friends won’t hesitate to eat it all.

The Grinch

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Cheesy musings, Holidays

What’s new and vintage and all-around cheesy?

Um, that vaguely-jokey headline, for starters. (Shh.) But if your second guess was my new home, you’re absolutely right!

It’s been three weeks, more dollars on storage boxes than I’m willing to accept (seriously, IKEA?!) and one trip to St. Lawrence market, and I’ve just about settled in… to my new backwards front-door lock. If you can settle in completely at a new place in three weeks, I probably hate you.

I have two sharp knives and enough dishes to host two people in good conscience, but my place is fully decked out for Christmas. After all, forced merriment and the whirlwind pressure (social, familial and internal) of the holidays come but once a year. Disorganization – well, that’s a patient guest, if you keep inviting it back. See you in January, shelving, I have more important things to do, like creating a miniature Whoville:

Whoville1

Whoville2

Whoville3

If you’d like to purchase mini Who houses to help me pay off my storage boxes, please note I am now accepting orders for December 2015. (Half-serious.) I accept cash and Délice de Bourgogne. A whole Who village is going to run you some truffle-assed Brie.

But the best new addition yet: St. Lawrence Market (voted the best food market in the world by National Geographic, if you’re not familiar) is a five-minute walk away. I had planned to pay proper reverence to my first visit in a separate post, but then I got caught up in eating all the things I bought and housewarming and holiday shopping and fa la la la la.

I went to my usual cheese haunt, Scheffler’s, and decided it’d be an all-new cheese cast, in honour of my all-new place. I asked the guy behind the counter which of the hard cheeses was his favourite. (If you ever want to stop cheese people in their tracks, ask this question.) He immediately pointed me to Highland Chief, a cheddar made with single-malt whiskey, because it’s only available this time of year (oh, and it’s sinfully indulgent). With a few more recommendations and more than a few samples, I had my lineup.

VintageCheeses

  • Highland Chief with Single Malt Whiskey
  • Uniekaas Vintage 3 Year Old Gouda
  • Oak Manor Vintage Cheddar
  • Le Rang Des Iles

Notice a pattern? Why the “vintage” tags, cheesemongers? I get calling clothes “vintage,” because “old” subconsciously signifies lesser quality (although I don’t think that’s true). But we’ve established that the older the cheese, the stronger the flavour, right? That can only be a good thing, as far as I’m concerned. Side note: Three years does not a vintage make, non?

While I’m tempted to split hairs further over the use of the term “vintage” to label cheese, I’m going to leave it there. As a hawker of all things cheesy, I have to throw my support behind the use of an inappropriate, whimsical description.

What do you think of calling a cheese “vintage”? Let me know in the comments or tweet me @xCheeseTheDay!

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