When humans want to make an offspring, it’s pretty simple; egg, sperm, nine month incubation. The Accidental Locavore was wondering while tasting the second piece of the new masterpiece from Point Reyes Farmstead, how exactly do you design a cheese? What’s the jumping-off point? Does it start with a cow, goat or sheep, or all of the above? Do you just have a flavor profile in your head and work towards making that real?
Once you have a starting point, how do you maneuver such fickle ingredients as milk, mold, temperature and time? In cooking, when you have an idea, you assemble ingredients, cook them and see how the results are to your vision… generally not too time consuming. If you screw up, it’s time for a quick re-do, or a call for Chinese delivery. With cheesemaking, I imagine there’s a lot less instant gratification. So, do you have several versions at various stages of aging? What about the variables in the milk? And how good is the local Chinese?
All this was bouncing through my brain as the Locavore was on my second day of tasting (what I’m calling PR II). My initial impressions: thank goodness it’s a bigger chunk (more to nibble on-get it?)! Seems to have less veining than the first sample, although the color seems similar.
The smell of it is making me crazy, a little pungent, yeasty and haunting, so I ate a sliver even though it’s still a little cool. Thanks to Dorie Greenspan, I’m conscious about how I cut it now; however, as Julia would say “if you’re alone in the kitchen…who’s going to know?” And anyway, it’s an American cheese, so does cheese protocol have to be followed as closely? It’s got a nice, yeasty scent that lingers. PR II seems to have been aged a little longer than the first piece, with a thicker, more pronounced rind. It’s a little salty and not quite as caramel-flavored as I remember the first piece being. It doesn’t have the little crunchy bits like the first sample, but since I can’t tell, I’ll just have to slink back into the kitchen and have another piece…
PR II: Day Two
Being just a little more patient, the Accidental Locavore let it get to room temperature before cutting thin wedges. The rind still tastes a little of ammonia and I’m more conscious of eating the rind. PR II seems stylistically to tread more familiar ground than the previous one. I miss the wonderful creamy, caramel paste with the little flacks of crunch. Maybe it wasn’t aged as long, so it’s missing the crystallization? There was also a slightly smoky taste in the first piece that isn’t present in this one.
Whichever way Point Reyes decides to go with this cheese, they’ve gotten really close to their goal of a masterpiece. You won’t be disappointed with the final product, actually you’ll be almost as happy as I was to be a part of this very cool adventure.
And if there are any other cheesemakers out there looking for a (now experienced) cheesetaster…Bring it on!
The name of this masterpiece? How about Second Coming?