And yes, I've been a little blog-absent over the last week and a half or so. I promise there's a total crap good reason for this - I was volunteering evenings at a local animal shelter, assembling care packages for our troops overseas, putting in extended evening workouts to burn off things like strawberry pie ... obsessively watching the first three seasons of "Friday Night Lights" thanks to the evil geniuses at Netflix who made it available on instant viewing. Consider yourself warned. Also consider yourself warned from catching the first three episodes of season four on Hulu and the remaining season four episodes through Comcast On Demand so that you're completely caught up and ready for tomorrow night's new episode. Yipes.
Anyway, back to the cheese. I received a shipment of the Cowgirl Collection from Cowgirl Creamery, thereby discovering from a quick trip to the website that my five years of service add up to $55 plus shipping and taxes. Hmmmm. Although in today's trying times I suppose I should be happy to receive anything at all.
Back to the cheese again. I decided to practice for my trip to Spain and have a tapas-ish dinner, celebrating the glory of the cheese with a few olives and piquillo peppers and crusty bread and cured meat. Not the healthiest of dinners, I realize, but I'm an adult and can eat whatever I want for dinner. So, when all was said and done, I ended up with this (and yes, I realize how organized it is - have you met me?).
See that cheese in the very middle of the plate? Notice how it's not quite as organized, and how it's missing its rind? Yeah, that's the incredibly smelly cheese that actually comes with a warning label regarding its smelliness:
Thanks for the warning and all, but...dang, this was a smelly cheese. In fact, I'd left all of the cheese sealed up in the styrofoam container it came in just to prevent the smelly cheese from smelling up my entire refrigerator. And when I finally cracked open the smelly cheese, its appearance and even stronger smell wasn't really doing much to appeal to my taste buds or olfactory senses. But I bravely cut a wedge...and hacked off the rind to try to get rid of some of the offending material...but I just really couldn't get past it. It smelled horrible, and I just couldn't handle that when trying to eat it. Red Hawk...fail. I had to wash that smell off my hands so I could actually enjoy the rest of my meal.
Come to think of it, anything wrapped in nettles doesn't exactly look promising, either. St. Pat cheese over there to your left. Smelled a thousand times better than the Red Hawk, which already had it off to a good start in my book. And it was edible!! Not the most amazing cheese experience I've ever had, but I didn't have to pinch my nose to try to get it down, so let's consider that one a success, even if it does look a little scary.
And then...and then I didn't have to try to look past the Day-Glo orange smelly rind or the nettles reminiscent of mold. And then...I found a winner. Mt. Tam. A "smooth, creamy, elegant, 10-oz, triple-cream - made with tasty organic milk from the Straus Family Dairy...firm, yet buttery with a mellow, earthy flavor reminiscent of white mushrooms." Now THIS was tasty cheese. Not as squishy as Brie, just a touch firmer, and crazy tasty. This cheese is gone now, and not because it met an untimely end in the garbage...ahem, Red Hawk. I just couldn't do it. But Mt. Tam I could do.
Maybe I should have gotten that crystal bowl after all.