Cheese Plate of the Month - APRIL

In 2007, I was treated to a fabulous dinner at Bacchanalia for my birthday.  It was a table of girls and when I ordered my dessert (a cheese plate), they laughed at me.  Then they tried the cheeses.  Generally, at Bacchanalia, they will present two or three choices of each variety:  cow, goat, sheep and blue.  I chose the following for my birthday cheese, and it is, to this day, one of my favorite cheese plates ever.

Farm: NA
Location: Avila, Spain
Milk: Goat
This one feels like a typical goat cheese, however, it's got the mold that makes blue cheese injected in it.  Interestingly, this one starts out creamy and acidic, and is shipped to the US just 21 days after it's been made.  As it ages, it becomes more dense, like a goat's milk cheese, but still keeps some of the creamy attributes.  It's a very intense cheese, very spicy.

Farm: NA
Location: Ambert, France
Milk: Cow
This is one of France's oldest cheeses, and probably one of the most gorgeous, in my opinion.  The milk for this cheese used to come from pastures around the town of Ambert, but now the cheese is made in lots of locations in the Auvergne region.  This cheese is pretty to look at.  The mold is about 8" tall, the inside is  white and marbled, and the outside rind is dark and rustic.  It's not crumbly like most "blue" cheeses are; likewise, it's not as "ripe" tasting as Roqueforts can be.  It is one of the mildest of blue cheeses, making it likable, if you're just getting into blues.  This is a favorite of mine because of its creaminess.

Farm: Ram Hall Farm
Location: Berkswell, West Midlands, England
Milk: Sheep
This fruity, nutty cheese is made in these cute "traditional" basket molds (basically a colander!), so their shape and size is distinctive - it looks like a little "pouf"!  The flavors are sweet and complex.  Depending on the age, it can be moist and creamy or rather firm.  

Farm: NA
Location: Burgundy, France
Milk: Cow
This is a chablis-washed rind, cow's milk cheese that is similar to the Epoisse (it's actually made by the same Creamery in the Burgundy region of France).  It's a soft, creamy cheese - best tried when it's at room temp.  While the taste is creamy and rich, the smell is rather pungent (just like the Epoisse).

Most of these cheeses are made available at your local Whole Foods.  If, however, you have the chance to purchase from a cheese purveyor, I'd recommend that route to ensure the freshest, quality cheeses.  

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