Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake

Cheese, Gromit

I have decided to add cheese blogging as an irregular feature of this blog. I happen to like loitering at the craft cheese counter at New Seasons (near my house) or Pastaworks (over in the Hawthorne district, near the home of davidlevine and kateyule). New Seasons also has a very nice artisan bakery, while Pastaworks features a more limited selection of artisan and rustic breads. On a fairly regular basis I pick up bread and cheese, and often have interesting and detailed conversations with the cheese mongeresses.

As it happens, a couple of days ago I wanted to pick up some bread and cheese without taking the time to go to either store, so I went to the Edelweiss Sausage and Delicatessen, two blocks from my house. (Which, if I wanted to do meat blogging, would be heaven on earth -- they have a sausage menu.) I got a loaf of Joe Bread challah and a parchment-wrapped wedge of Harlech cheese, from the Somerdale company, distributed by Abergavenny Fine Foods, Ltd. Harlech advertises itself as "a mature Welsh cheddar with horseradish and parsley." Frankly, I'm a sucker for packaging, and I'm fond of both cheddar and horseradish, so it was kind of a no-brainer. $5.59 from Edelweiss.

Somerdale Harlech Wrapper

I opened the cheese and photographed it.

Somerdale Harlech Wedge

Clearly I need to learn to take more appetizing photos of food, if I'm going to do this very often. Inspecting the wrapper, I realized it had expired November 29th. I decided to brave the cheese anyway. I sliced off a small piece and tried it. Not terribly impressed. It's a bit softer and mealier than I typically expect cheddar to be, though still reasonably firm. (If I am going to practice turophilia in public I need to develop the formal vocabular of cheese.) The horseradish flavor was strong -- a plus in my book -- while the cheddary sharpness was a little more rounded off that I might favor. It was also slightly oily. I will note that the softness and the oiliness might be an issue of the sell-by date, though that doesn't seem too likely -- cheese hardens as it ages, in my experience.

I cut three slices of the challah, dipped them in olive oil, and set the cheese on them to toast. (This was a morning snack, after all.)

Somerdale Harlech on Challah with Olive Oil

I then popped them in the toaster oven on the next-to-highest setting.

Somerdale Harlech Toasted on Challah

The cheese was much improved by toasting. The flavor of the cheddar came out much better, the cooking had set the cheese up so the mealiness was gone, as well as the oiliness.

Despite the attractiveness of the label and the concept (cheddar with horseradish) I probably won't buy Harlech again. Edelweiss carries several other Somerdale cheeses, so at some point I might try one of them, but I'll have to carefully check the sell-by date if I do.
Tags: cheese

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