I know you’ll find this hard to believe, but the Accidental Locavore finally found some cheese she didn’t love—and it was French! OK, to be fair, it wasn’t the cheese I didn’t like, it was a French cheese and wine class put on by Artisanal and it was terribly disappointing. If you don’t know Artisanal, it’s a cheese-centric restaurant with a wonderful collection of cheese that you can also buy (or order) to have at home, so it was doubly disappointing that the class fell so short.
We sat down to six cheeses arranged in the order you were supposed to eat them. Strangely, unlike most cheese “clocks”, where you start at noon or one o’clock, this one started at six. But that wasn’t the real issue. The idea behind a clock is that you start with the mildest cheese and work your way around to the strongest. It’s a little like wine tasting (which was also a component of the class)-start with whites and work your way to reds.
The tasting started with a Pierre Robert, usually a wonderful triple-cream, similar to a St. Andre or a Brillat-Savarin. For some reason this, and the last cheese, a Roquefort, tasted a little like ammonia and was much stronger in an unpleasant way, then I remember it being. Being so pungent, it struck me as an odd choice to start with.
Continuing on, the second cheese was an Abbaye de Belloc, a gentle sheep’s milk cheese. Why this wasn’t the lead cheese is a mystery, as it was much milder than the Pierre Robert. It was followed by a Munster, one of many washed-rind cheeses that definitely fall into the “stinky cheese“ category. Again, a strange placement and it seemed like that was the pattern for the evening—alternating between strong and mild.
My favorite was the Cantalet which was compared to a British farmhouse cheddar. I don’t know if I liked it because it was the only one that was new to me, or if it was just a really nice cheese (and I love a good cheddar). The biggest disappointment? Probably the Roquefort. Unfortunately it was almost inedible. A nasty ammonia-tainted taste and a plastic texture–supermarket blue cheese would have given it a run for the money.
Unlike classes I’ve taken at Murray’s, where the cheese is always interesting and impeccable and the instructors informative, this just seemed like an opportunity for the students to get drunk and eat cheese. Have you taken cheese classes? Where have you been happiest?