Monday, July 13, 2009

The second rule of Cheese Club is don't talk about Cheese Club

It was a truly great day. Cheese Club day always is. This time we were joined by the Urbane parents and the wines of the Rhone - a bottle of rounded red and a Muscat de Beaumes de Venise. The Richmond Hill blurb for the selection emphasised fondue, Switzerland and winter, and while it was cold and wet outside, inside it was warm and cheesy. The cheeses were either Swiss or from Alpine France, but there was nothing neutral or appeasing about them.

Fromeger des Clarines - Louche, lush, luscious, moannnnn... This is a surface ripened, white mould cheese that makes your average Camembert look as attractive as a lump of ripened soap. The emphasis here is on "creamy", and the lesson is "fat is your friend". The rind/mould has just the right amount of texture to stop the cheese from falling apart; the flavour is gentle and earthy but the texture of the middle is a thing that makes you go "mmmmmmmmm"... somewhere between a fully ripe Brie and creme fraiche...

La Graine des Vosges - Well, roll me over, call me slave and make me beg for mercy - this is a petite smack in the face with a slice of lemon wrapped around a gold brick, to paraphrase Douglas Adams. It's cute and smaller than you expect (insert Kylie Minogue reference here), and while a washed rind, it's not in the cat's tray league - the orange mould is a subtle, yeasty tang (note "orange mould" and "subtle" aren't mutually exclusive) and the overall effect is rich, salty, creamy and vegemitey. Spruced up with a sprig of spruce, this Kylie, this looks pretty and has a particular nasal twang. Mmmm.....

Le Caviste de Scey - the first of the obviously mountainous cheeses, this is a cooked smoother than smooth thing that's been given a light sanding in preparation for a quick coat of varnish and a French polish. It has an intensity, but apart from the smoothy smoother smoothster texture, mark this one down as Captain Pleasant.

Cave Ripened Emmentaler - Heidi as slut. Unpasteurised, dirty and sexy, this is sweeter than the Caviste de Scey and dribbles a bit - the eyes are moist with a sweetened whey and the cheese itself has a slight but perfect grain. Nutty and verging on nuttiest, as though it's going to key your car and write a nasty farewell on your windscreen with lipstick. The whole wheels of cheese apparently weigh more than a Range Rover but look fetching in a pair of silk stockings. Switzerland, eh? Who would have thought...

Bresse Blue - F remembers this as having been mentioned in the "cheeseshop" sketch, proving only that she's as much a sketch comedy gunzel as I am. It's soft and has white mould, blue mould and a partridge in a mould tree mould. It's a mild and creamy blue, rich and not too tart. Like Joe Hockey, it's plump and mostly inoffensive, has a friendly appeal that doesn't particularly stick in the mind.

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