Friday, January 20, 2012

Happy National Cheese Day!

What can I say about a day dedicated to one of the best foods ever invented? Genius. It should not just be a national day, it should be declared a religious holiday. Where we engage in a decadent communion with as much of the stuff as possible.

Especially cheese with truffle in it. Absolutely transcendent. Here is the holy trinity of truffle cheeses, in my humble opinion:
Sottocenere: I die every time I eat this. An Italian semi-soft cow's milk cheese, aged in a beautiful, grey, edible vegetable ash rind made with nutmeg, coriander, cinnamon, licorice, cloves, and fennel.
The cheese inside has a beautifully restrained sweetness tempered by very slight saltiness, and in texture is smooth, silky and studded throughout with pieces of black truffle that infuses the entire thing with its intoxicating fragrance.

A super indulgent and my all time favorite truffle cheese. I don't actually like to eat the rind, it's dry and um...ashy (duh!) and more for visual effect, but if pieces of it land on the cheese when you slice it, it does lend a great salty spice to the cheese.

Moliterno al Tartufo: Another Italian beauty - made with sheep's milk. This one's firm in texture and the truffle is woven in gorgeous veins through the cheese.

How do they get the truffles into the vein-like formation? Truffle, don't forget is a fungus, and cheesemakers actually inject a paste of it into pecorino cheese wheels that have already undergone some aging. Then the truffle is allowed to 'grow' and find its way through the cheese, forming the lovely veins.
The cheese is then aged for about another five months, rubbed with vinegar and olive oil which combine with the flavors of the truffle to spread throughout the cheese.
Besides the amazing truffle flavors, the rest of the cheese is quite a bit saltier and nuttier than Sottocenere, and much more crumbly. If there were Oscars for cheese, this one would definitely win for Best Drama.

Last but not least is Il Boschetto al Tartufo: You guessed it, another Italian one. This is a semi-soft mix of cow's and sheep's milk cheese, combined with BOTH black and white truffle, and aged for a few months.

It's a perfect union: the cheese is mild, a good balance of subtle savory, sweet and slightly tangy, with specks of truffle that taste earthy and garlicky. It's more chewy than the other two. My favorite by far is still Sottocenere, but this has an intriguing flavor profile.

I eat all of these by themselves as I think they are perfect on their own - but The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills recommends besides eating by itself, also trying to put them in omelettes or grilled cheese.

(Thanks to the awesome guys at The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills for introducing me to the Moliterno and Boschetto on my last visit! And patientlly explaining each one to me!)

Alleluia per Formaggio!

*Sorry for the bad photos - got these with my phone on the fly! Will go back and some point and shoot better ones!

Two of my favorite cheese stores in LA:
The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills
419 N. Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Ph: 310.278.2855

Twitter: @cheesestorebh


Artisan Cheese Gallery
12023 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, CA 91604
Ph: 818.505.0207

Twitter: @ArtisanCheese


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