Cheese Profile: Fresh, Soft Parmesan

Monday, October 4, 2010

-Hard to find, but worth the search.-

I couldn't help but perk my ears up when I overheard Jackie, the pastry assistant at Grange, talking to one of the restaurants purveyors. Our egg guy was going on about some of the dairy cows they had at his farm in Yolo county. While Grange didn't purchase any of his dairy products many other high-end restaurants in Sacramento did; most often, his amazingly grassy tasting butter. However, this conversation was more about his cheeses.

He regularly sent some of his milk to local cheesemakers who processed in into a variety of cheeses. Nothing for commercial purposes, but rather small batches for himself and his family and friends. He most often commissioned mozzarella, ricotta, and even a few cheddar-like cheeses to be made. However, what he had brought today for us to try was his soft Parmesan.

I use the term Parmesan loosely, and only because it was the reference term used by the farmer. However, it's more than accurate. The dairy is treated exactly like a traditional batch of Parmesan up to a certain point. It's never poured into a ring mold or graded, but rather after a short press and a tiny bit of aging it's served right away as a misshapen, butter-colored glob of cheese.

-A cheese with various properties from Parmesan, Gouda, and Cheddar. Truly delightful.-

It has flavors similar to a very mellow cheddar cheese that at first made me question why he wouldn't call it that. However, the slight, nutty resemblance of Parmesan begins to slowly roll across your tongue like a morning fog. And, just like fog, you can't pin the flavors down. It's a phantasm Parmesan, there for just a moment at the corner of your tongue and just when you think you caught it, it vanishes. The texture is somewhat Gouda-esque, which sounds like a term from a philosophy class, but accurately describes its slightly firm body.

Sadly, there's no way to actually buy this at the store. You have to know a guy, though maybe a chatting with your local cheesemonger or visiting a dairy farm will result in your procuring some. However, doing so will score you some truly unique and delectable cheese.

-It melts deliciously, too.-


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