Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Gorgonzola Bontazola

Yes, it's a cheese blog now, apparently.

Mauri gorgonzola bontazola

I picked up a wodge of the gorgonzola I mentioned in my last post. I'm a sucker for blue cheese. I've had some so blue that the flavour singed my nostrils. So I was prepared for this one to be STRONG. But you know what? It was really surprisingly mild. The first note that hit me was actually spinach-y, and then the full blue bouquet emerged. The texture was firmer than I was expecting, too - for some reason I was expecting it to be like a camembert, but it's more like butter.

This is a really pleasant eating cheese. It's probably still too strong for blue noobs, but it's definitely down the milder end of the scale. (I was introduced to blue with Castello Blue, which isn't exactly gourmet I know.) I'd put this one on a cheese plate for a party without question. I think it would actually contrast nicely with the two in my previous post, actually - a good balance between textures, flavours and sharpness. I had this with a few crackers and apple slices.

By the way, a nice way to give an apple strudel a complex flavour is to add a little blue cheese amongst the apples. Not so much that you can identify it as blue, just enough to add character. It's like adding a pinch of katsuobushi to tomato sauce for pasta to give it an umami kick. Mmm, I'm hungry now. Carbonara with pancetta for dinner, I think.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cheeeeeese (skip this post if that's not your thing)

To know me is to know that I love cheese. I tweeted a few weeks ago that I dream of one day owning an entire parmigiano reggiano. That's not a joke. I totally do. Most days I would choose cheese over chocolate, so long as it was real cheese, not that processed stuff that masquerades as such.

I'm fortunate to work near The Herdsman, a food store that takes pride in supplying real food. They take, amongst other things, their cheese pretty seriously. They have a cheese of the month, for goodness' sake. (This month it's Mauri Gorgonzola Bontazola, which I haven't tried yet and have to get my hands on before April.) But the cheese that got me excited this afternoon while I was shopping was this:

Isigny mimolette and camembert

Isigny Mimolette vielle!!! (The camembert was nice too, but that particular brand is always readily available to me.)

I wandered over to the cheese cabinet looking for some Gruyere, when I spotted it out of the corner of my eye. Orange. Red Leicester? Not with that crust. Could it be??? Indeed it was. I grabbed a hunk as quick as I could.

So why am I so excited? Because mimolette, deliciously/disgustingly, gains a good deal of its flavour from cheese mites, which give it its characteristic grey rind.

Mmmmmm. Yep, that's pretty gross if cheese isn't your thing. (Don't worry, they're dead by the time you eat the cheese. I think.) But I was thrilled to get the chance to try something different, a little bit rustic, a little bit primal. The thing is, in Australia, our cheese making and importation is severely hampered by a wide ban on raw milk cheeses. This is unfortunate, because most cheese connoisseurs will tell you that pasteurizing milk completely changes its character and flavour, leading to inferior cheese. Most of the world's most famous and ancient cheeses are raw milk cheeses, and to my mind, the wisdom of ages says that if people have been eating them safely for centuries, then there isn't a problem to eat them now. Indeed, the bad has been lifted for a couple of French Roquefort cheeses. So what gives? Are French bacteria safer? It doesn't seem fair to Australian cheesemakers to not have the right to make cheeses according to time-honoured means, but allowing consumers to buy similar imported cheeses. And it doesn't seem fair to a cheese lover like me to not be able to experience some raw cheeses but not others because of an arbitrarily made decision.

Slow Food Australia are working to amend these laws, and they have a petition to sign if you're interested. You can find it here. If you have even a passing interest in cheese (or indeed, in freedom of choice in what you put in your mouth) then I encourage you to take a minute to sign. And if you're interested in learning about the production of a number of famous cheeses, ABC2 is screening a show called Cheese Slices. You can watch it here.

And how was the mimolette, you ask? Sharp, fruity and nutty. And hard. But all around delicious.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Birthday love

So yesterday was my 26th birthday, and my friends and family were kind enough to, um, spoil me rotten. Here's a rundown of all the nice things that I received.

Chasseur French/Dutch oven

Firstly, this awesome cast iron enamelled pot from my mum and dad. I have wanted one of these for years, and I happened to mention it to Ant after we saw Julie and Julia a couple months ago. So when I unwrapped it, I naturally assumed that he had pointed them in the right direction. But no, as it turns out, my dad is a psychic. He nailed it, right down to the colour and size I wanted. Thanks, daddy! I'm a little bit afraid of your skills right now. If I start thinking really hard about a cute terrace house in Subi, will I get that for Christmas? :) (The other option was mum's idea, some new perfume, which is equally on my hit list. You guys know me very, very well.)

How To Be Adored

Tris bought me this book that I've been crushing on for months. Who wouldn't want to learn the style and charm secrets of Old Hollywood? (She was very lucky that Monday was a public holiday, because I had every intention of going to Oxford Books and buying it that day.) Thanks, Trissy! I've been washing my face like Audrey Hepburn every night since :)

Leopard beret and pretty bracelet

From Ishipishy, a freaking awesome leopard beret and pretty bracelet! Look at the beret! It's FURRY! Ish, I'm so touched that you remembered me blabbing about wanting a leopard beret however long ago that was. This one is sooo cute. Thanks so so much!

Best.  Cheesecake.  Ever.

Julie baked a cheesecake for Ruthie and me, and she made it with blueberries from her own backyard. For crying out loud. That's just so awesome. Thanks Julz!

Aww, my friends are so great.

Craft book and icecream scoop

George and Janine gifted me these. The pink thingy is an icecream scoop that makes perfect cylinders, and the craft book? Right up my alley. Everything is so fresh and breezy. Thankyou thankyou thankyou.

Josh says that his gift to me is on the way, but he drew me this as a placeholder:

Pirate Lincoln

I think that the real gift is going to have to be pretty fantastic to top that.

And last but not least, Ant's gift. You've been seeing it all post, because it's a new camera! My little Lumix has seen better days, so he got me this nifty Samsung that was made for camwhoring. It has a second screen at the front (no more being half out of frame with bad hair and four chins) and a skin-smoothing, blemish removing mode. That's the mode it's been on more or less constantly. I haven't got a photo of it yet, so just keep your eyes open in future posts.

That's it! I have been really spoilt this year. Thanks so much to everyone for making yesterday such a lovely day.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Long time no see

I've been neglecting this blog an awful lot the last few weeks.  Oops!  In the meantime, a couple of friends and I have been working on a fashion blog.  Go have a look!  It's Girls Who Like To Buy Things, and so far it's been a lot of fun.

It's my birthday tomorrow so I'll post some photos of the lovely gifts that I've received so far after the date (feels gauche to post them now for some reason.)  Until then, au revoir!