Wine and Cheese Entertaining Event at Central Market

You can't go wrong with good ingredients. Each cheese we sampled at last weekend's event could stand alone, but we love many - for many reasons. The enticing rinds on Bijou and Bonne Buche. The perfectly ripened triple crème Délice de Bourgogne. Fiore Sardo, Comté and Zamorano: scrumptious and historic emblems of Sardinian, French and Spanish culture. Stellar fresh and local Mozzarella Company and Latte Da Dairy cheeses. Oregon's Tumalo Farms' iconic aged farmstead goat cheese. We love the new dimension in taste and texture acquired through open air finishing in Minnesota's caves of Faribault after Vermont's beer-washed Grafton Truckle and Wisconsin's Fini age two years in their place of origin, and then are sent to be finished in Faribault Dairy's riverside sandstone caves.

Cow's milk

America's hot new cheese, Grafton Duet, layers Vermont Cheddar and Minnesota cave-aged blue. It's inspired by Huntsman, Britain's party staple, a combination of orange Double Gloucester and beautifully blue-veined Stilton. But Grafton Duet's ivory-yellow Cheddar layer - same as their One Year Premium Cheddar - is made from unpasteurized Jersey cow's milk and aged one year. And the blue layer is St. Pete's Select, made by Faribault Dairy from unpasteurized milk, then aged 100 days in Faribault's caves. Huntsman, brighter in color, is the milder, rounder and softer choice. Grafton Duet is denser in texture. It is big and distinctive in flavor; then, as you chew, the creaminess and tanginess marry delightfully. It's tempting to taste these layered cheeses as soon as you unwrap them, but the flavor is best - and considerably different - when the cheese is no longer cool to the touch.

Goat's milk - fresh and local cheese
Fresh Goat's Milk Ricotta from Mozzarella Company in Deep Ellum is soft and delicate with subtle depth of flavor. It can be enjoyed on its own any time of day, or in savory or sweet recipes. Fresh Mozzarella and its "sister" cheese, Ricotta, are the first cheeses Paula Lambert made when she founded Mozzarella Company in 1982, and they've always been made by hand, not by machine. Latte Da Dairy’s farmstead Kalamata Olive Fresh Feta is a crowd pleaser.

Goat's milk - fresh imported cheese
Roves des Garrigues and Le Provencal are uniquely creamy French goat cheeses.

Goat's milk - aged goat cheese
Caciotta Capra Pepe e Olio is a simple, beautifully made goat‘s milk wheel from Latteria Perenzin in Italy's Veneto region. It's rubbed with pepper and extra virgin olive oil while aging, becoming mellow and fragrant. Emanuela Perenzin is the fourth generation of her family to operate the latteria.

Aged goat's milk cheeses from Tumalo Farms near Bend, Oregon, rarely reach the metroplex so if you see some, buy it. The semi-soft Classico is goat cheese perfection - creamy, pure, balanced - a blue-ribbon American Cheese Society winner the past three years. Cheesemaker Flavio DeCastilhos visited three area stores and also brought Pondhopper, similar to Classico and flavored with a local microbrew, and Capricorns, with peppercorns that did not overwhelm and entranced all the tasters.

Sheep's milk - aged cheeses
Fiore Sardo, Sardinia's aged, raw sheep's milk cheese, is one of Italy's oldest cheeses, rich and sweet, slightly tangy and lightly smoky.

Zamorano resembles Manchego in shape and its herringbone patterned rind, but is a small production cheese from Zamora, a province in northwestern Spain's Castilla y León region. The milk for Zamorano comes from Churra and Castilian sheep, breeds native to Zamora; milk for Manchego comes from the Manchega breed of sheep raised in La Mancha. The Zamorano we tasted was one of the best aged sheep's milk cheeses we've ever tasted: intense, nutty, with a hint of burnt caramel and the sweet smoothness of sheep's milk.
~, November 2009