Sheep Thrills in the Staff Room

Following a visit made on the weekend to Beecher’s Cheese Shop, I brought in three new selections to share with my coworkers. From left to right below, there is a slab of Beecher’s Flagsheep, a variation of their Flagship cheese, made with sheep’s milk; Beecher’s own tasty honey hazelnut crackers; and Shushan Snow, another sheep’s milk based cheese. ctmy60-beecher's bounty

Joining me for the tasting this time was Perlagrigia back to sample and shoot. Mr. Piave and Kasseri also happened to be in the staff room, so they impulsively, and happily, helped us devour the contents of this small plate. The latter two were full of comments, so I was glad to have them present for this sheepy snack.

Kasseri deemed the Flagsheep to be a bit too mild for her own personal taste; she expected it to have more bite. In spite of this minute criticism, the whole slab was consumed within a short period, so it was still certainly palatable to the others present.

Similar to our last tasting being name-based, I had selected the Shushan Snow finding it similar to my own (real) first name. If my knowledge of cheeses had been stronger 18 years ago (that is to say, the interwebs had been more developed), perhaps I would have dubbed myself, Shushan Venus Moliterno, though admittedly Stilton Velveeta Mozzarella is a lot more recognizable!

Anyway, the tiny wedge of Shushan Snow was labelled as similar to a camembert, but with a sheep’s milk influence. Obviously, though they both had this common ingredient, the Shushan Snow was much creamier and softer than the Flagsheep. Noticing me poised to take notes on any comments made, Mr. Piave rattled off that he found it “quotidian, having citrus notes, and the finish of American cheese”. Now, I don’t think we should believe any of his claptrap, but I’m sharing it with you all the same, if only for a chuckle.

As far as what’s in a name, it turns out Shushan Snow is produced in the town of Shushan, New York. It’s more than a stone’s throw from my perch in northern Westchester, but perhaps there will be a field trip at some point, to visit the 3-Corner Field Farm where this cheese is made, and also the quaint covered bridge (now, a museum) that this little hamlet boasts.

After the tasting that followed my weekend at the Sheep & Wool festival, where I accidentally failed to pick up any sheep’s milk concoctions for us to try, I now feel I am back in good with the woolly ones. Do you agree Shaun?

Maybe You Can’t Say It, But You’ll Still Love It!

My coworker, Rondo, was shopping at her local co-op and came across an Italian cheese, Moliterno, that made her think of me. It’s easy to see why as there are only 3 letters of difference between the name of this cheese and my own (real) last name. Mispronunciations/misspellings of various people’s names has become a bit of a joke at work of late, so it was doubly appropriate.

ctmy58-moliterno labelI spoke to another colleague & fellow turophile Perlagrigia and arranged a lunchtime cheese tasting at work. A midday errand ran long and frustrating, so it was all the more wonderful to have this appointment waiting for me upon my belated, exasperated return.

I did bring in some Scottish oatcakes from home to accompany the cheese. Rondo had snapped that pic of the label at the co-op and sent it to me, while Perlagrigia kindly agreed to be photographer. She has spent a lot of time on the Boot and knew that Moliterno’s place of origin, Basilcata, was down in the Southern half of the country. I just looked it up and saw that, in fact, this region is right in the arch of the famous shape.

ctmy59-moliterno & oatcakes

I liked the moldy edge to the cheese. Sometimes, I am brave and eat it, but this one was a bit too green, though still pretty, in its own unique way. There was another work colleague, Di.Vino, sitting near us and I asked her to join us in the tasting. By happenstance, there we were, three Italian-American cheese fiends, hacking away at a hunk of formaggio from the old country.

At some point during the tasting, Perlagrigia commented that it reminded her a bit of a Manchego, though it was a bit less bitter. Around the time we hit the back edge of the Moliterno, I turned to her and said that this cheese seemed to be somewhere between a Manchego and a Pecorino and she agreed completely. This is not really that surprising since those are all sheep milk’s cheeses, but with the addition of goat’s milk, I think it becomes a bit more tangy. I love the idea that after being formed, the cheese is left to hang in wicker baskets, and also that it’s rubbed with olive oil. I would imagine that this second step imparts that softer edge to the combination of the sheep’s & goat’s milks.

So, here’s to bumbling over tricky those “foreign” names and it leading to a delicious cheese tasting party at work!