I’ve started lining up some cheese related books to read over the holidays and even though I was in the middle of Franzen’s memoir I couldn’t resist taking a peek at the first chapter of Year of the Goat: 40,000 Miles and the Quest for the Perfect Cheese by Margaret Hathaway and got hooked — I had to read it right to the end!
It’s a quick read covering the travels of two New Yorkers — the author and her fiance — as they cross the U.S. exploring the entire goat world in a quest to discover if they could run their own goat farm. They visit livestock auctions and explore the largely ethnic world of goat meat. They visit goat dairy farms and cheesemaking operations and see a few goat shows where the fanciest and most lovingly cared for goats get to strut their stuff with their owners. The book is full of history and anecdotes about these curious animals and also touches on the current state of small farms and agriculture in the U.S. Totally recommended reading and you can also check out their website where they blog occasionally about life on the farm and if you dip way into their archives you can read blog posts and see photos from the places they visited and the people they met.
Don’t mind if I do….
So, I came across those La Panzanella fancy crackers which I bought way back when I visited the Rogue Creamery and realized that if I didn’t eat them soon they were probably going to get all stale. I also wanted to give another chance to our farmhouse cheddar. What better excuse to make up a little cheese plate for one?
I went by Whole Foods after work and picked up some Morbier (bottom) (intrigued by Nicole’s earlier tasting notes on Estrella Creamery’s version of the same), a Mobay (left) and some Manchego (top). I packed them away in my bike panniers and made the trek home fueled by thoughts of cheese.
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So, I was going to come here and post “Cheese Fail” but I don’t think I necessarily need to do that. It’s not so much a FAIL as a sort of unexpected, somewhat of a downer outcome.
What happened is this: we have waited about thirty days for the cheese to age. Our plan was to cut into it this week. I noticed earlier this week that I could see mold under the wax. Oh noes!!! Investigation commenced this evening.
It doesn’t look too bad though not quite the texture I was expecting. It’s very light colored and has not much of a scent. Luckily there does not appear any mold running through the cheese. It’s firm but not hard. However, when you peel back the wax….
Bleh. Not good. Along the sides there is light veins of mold and on the top and bottom in all the little hollows there is some serious moldage. I cut off the moldy bits and my husband and I both tasted it. It’s slightly tangy and a little crumbly. I can’t say that it is anything like cheddar. It’s not bad, necessarily, but I wouldn’t call it exceptionally good. I think this weekend I’ll carve away some more mold and let some unmoldy bits come up to room temp and taste it that way.
I really don’t know what went wrong. Obviously, it was too damp when I waxed it. Before waxing, I had needed to wipe off a touch of mold and perhaps I didn’t get all the spores. I’m going to do some reading up on this but may attempt the farmhouse cheddar again as soon as this weekend. We’ll see. This is certainly a learning process and I’ve gained so much appreciation for cheesemakers.