Cheeseboard Masterclass #2
Cheeseboard Master class # 2
A deeper dive into flavours and textures .. let's make a five cheeseboard.
In the first class we talked about hard, soft and blue - there we were focusing on texture and texture is important because it has a huge impact on the perception of flavour and our experience of it.
When you were a child, was dinner time an obstacle course? Did you hate the bits in yoghurt or an over ripe tomato? How we perceive flavour encompasses so much more than just what we taste - visual appeal, texture, smell and even the expected mouth feel which, although similar to texture, is more nuanced and subjective to the individual.
The perception of flavour has its origins in our childish learnings but becomes more complex and constructed as we grow and are exposed to different more complex experiences. If you are a food lover or someone who works in the industry, it is a journey of discovery and learning. Of being adventurous, shunning your comfort zone and challenging yourself to try new things. With this, we begin to expand our palate’s portfolio and we can begin to pinpoint and highlight particular flavours and tastes - this takes time to build and some people will be more adept at it and have more complex portfolios than others.
When we look at what flavours we get from different cheeses, the spectrum is huge - from acidic, to earthy, to floral, to downright ‘barnyardy’. Although this can be entirely subjective, there are some guides and general rules that we can look to to help point us in the right
direction. What different flavours do we get from cheese?.....
Here are some examples of some flavours to look out for:
Mushroomy, like the rind of Caerphilly or some soft white bloomy rind
Cabbagy, don’t be put off this is how we describe Brie style flavours
Peanuts - to be more specific, kind of how Riseley tastes all the time
Meaty, with washed rind cheeses
And much more….
How to match different flavours?
It is important to bare in mind our palate when putting a board together - your palate can get tired, so be mindful not to attack it too hard, too early….I still have to remind myself of this, I have a crazy palate and I’m attracted to big flavours but we need to be conscious of how to create a balanced tasting experience… which is where we started, right? With a hard, a soft and a blue ..this is all to do with balance and intensity.
The occasion, the season and the mood will come into play - as I am writing this the storm (Franklyn, I think) has still not subsided and is screaming for my attention, the wind whistling through the stripped bare Plane trees on our street. It is gloomy out there so immediately I'm going to want comforting, warm flavours so let’s start there.
If I start with Coolea - this is a gouda style from Ireland and is my hard cheese. It's nutty and sweet with a lovely consistent texture and the odd crunch for good measure.
I want to match this sweetness with something more tangy perhaps - so I'm gonna go for a St Jude, a St Marcellin in style and starts off very lemony with a hint of moussey texture. As a lactic set cheese it’s very bright (as it ages it can become more barnyardy but will still work with the clean rich flavours of Coolea).
So, now thinking about my Blue - I have sweet nutty and lemony flavours - I want to go for something brothy - I choose Colston Bassett Stilton - I know what’s coming, ‘what about Stichelton?’ I hear you ask but Colston Bassett right now is singing and it has all the brothy notes to complement.
Now for a fourth cheese. I think I want a palate cleanser, so let’s turn to a goats cheese - I want an ash coated goat’s cheese because you know it will retain a sharpness that will help freshen the mouth. Ash is a traditional method for protecting cheese but it’s alkaline properties allow the cheese to ripen without losing that acidity. This should allow you to reset your taste buds as well as taste delicious - I’d go for Brightwell Ash, it's creamy & bright and will do the job perfectly.
Finally for the fifth cheese - we always talk about a range to create a balance but you have to be considerate of the intensity of flavour here. Apart from the blue which has a kick to it and lingers the intensity of the others are not, as a group, overwhelming so let’s dial it up a notch and choose a washed rind cheese - right now it has to be Evenlode, a rich, bold and meaty washed rind cow’s milk cheese from David Jowett of Rollright fame. It’s perhaps closest to a Reblochon and has a wonderful tacky rind, funky breakdown and paste with a hint of acidity hiding behind those big balcony vibes.
So there we have it - a five cheese board to delight. Don’t forget the obligatory conference pear, some fruit cheese (damson for a change?) and some wonderful sourdough to soak up all those flavours and smooth the way ahead. We’ve looked at how flavour is not the only consideration and no matter what you do you’ll never please everyone (except yourself) but it’s best to create a balanced journey that starts slowly and finishes with a bang - or two! Until the next time, enjoy.