This Little Piggy Went Cheese Tasting…

16 November 2011 § 9 Comments

I have discovered a wonderful cheese store just 15 minutes drive from my house. It is called Affinage. I am in heaven.

How did I not know about it?

My lack of local knowledge aside, the owners have been doing a brie tasting course over the last few days, so I had to see what that was about, especially as, truth be told, I love cheese.

Not just love a little bit, but love as in “sweep me off my feet to the sound of choirs of angels”. That kind of love. Like Brick Tamland declaring, “I love lamp” in Anchorman, I often find myself lost in my love of cheese.

In any case, it was not a bad way to spend half an hour. Plus (in the spirit of declaring an interest), I was given a $25 gift certificate to spend in the store.

On cheese.

Oh yes.

And, as this spirit of honesty is taking over, here’s another open admission: Brie is not usually one of my favorite cheeses. I tend to write it off as being merely soft and savory with a whiff of ammonia and only ever like it when it is warm and oozing creaminess and I’ve just “enjoyed” a couple of glasses of port.

But when I heard they were doing a tasting and giving the tasters a gift certificate, how could I not go?

After sampling five different Bries, I was able to note that like most things in life (by that I mean wine, cheese and men), when it gets down to the nitty-gritty, the educated palette can spot a difference, even in a blind tasting. Of the five, there were a few that were really good and a couple that I would avoid. (Just to be sure, I’m talking about the brie, not men here).

And then came the reveal....

The good Bries were reminiscent of hazelnuts with a creamy texture, a velvety rind and a tangy aftertaste. My favorites were the Belle Etoile, and the Président. The Île de France was surprisingly good and is very good value. My least favorite was the Stop and Shop one. I swear it was a blind tasting.

I left happy and with a bag of cheese. I bought some Tumbleweed Cheddar – a raw-milk cheddar – that was delicately fruity with a nutty brown butter aroma. I also bought some Délice de Bourgogne  – a decadent triple-cream cheese that is incredibly rich, full-flavored with a smooth, melt-in-the-mouth texture. The rind is yellowish-white with a soft, chalky-like dust and a remarkable, verging on pungent, aroma.

Sadly my bag of cheese is no more. The Ladies™ got their grubby, little hands on it. The oldest loved the Délice de Bourgogne and got quite agitated when I tried to wrestle it from her. And youngest preferred the Tumbleweed Cheddar and could not be tempted back to the supermarket $7.99 per lb cheese.

As well as a wide cheese selection Affinage sells all sorts of cheese accoutrements: honey, crackers, chocolate (yup chocolate – they did a chocolate pairing with the Chocolate Path a few weeks ago that I wish I’d gone to) as well as a range of cheese-related gifts.

If you’re thinking about having a cheese plate for Thanksgiving they are hosting an event tomorrow – a Cheese Board How-To on Thursday, November 17 at 7pm. Guests will be offered advice on how to build a beautiful and delicious cheese board for the holidays using several cheeses. A $10 entry fee can be put towards a cheese purchase during the event.

I can’t go but will be going back very soon to buy a secret stash of cheese that I will be hiding from The Ladies™, thank goodness they have not learned to read yet.


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