December 18, 2011

This Cheese Doesn't Suck: Cotswold

I know what you're thinking. Cotswold. Really? Sure I could have dedicated this inaugural cheese profile to something more fabulous.  A hulking diva of cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano (always recited in my head with a bad Italian accent.) or a suave Pierre Robert brie.  Nope.  I want to talk about Cotswold.  This my friends is the clear evidence that I really, truly, just want to yammer on about whatever my gullet is currently begging to be crammed with.

This. This is what I want to eat all of the time.
 Cotswold is in all actuality a dressed up Double Gloucester* style cheese.  Heralding from the ceremonial county of Gloucestershire, England.  A 25 mile by 90 mile patch of country so beautiful it must have been the setting for every PBS costume drama ever.  Gloucester cheese has been made in one tradition or another since the late 15th century.  Once the mover and shaker of commerce in its region, it faded to a pale obscurity by the 19th century.  In recent decades there has been a marked boost in its production and popularity spurred on by a delightful surge of folks taking an interest in traditional dairying.
Though this cheese bears the same general shape and mac-n-cheese hue of a cheddar, don't be fooled.  It is not one by any means. (besides "cheddaring" is an actual process.) It's texture tends to be much less dense than that of cheddar, even the milder varieties.  Because the curds are milled into bits the size of rice the feel of the finished cheese keeps a certain amount of a pleasing moist graininess.  I prefer, for this reason, to eat it very slowly, letting it fall apart between tongue and the roof of my mouth (t.m.i.?).  What can I say? I'm a textural eater.
The addition of chives to this Double Gloucester is really what makes the magic happen. As an old friend of mine once said about Cotswold. "It's like a loaded baked potato...without that pesky potato part." Glor-i-ous.  What more could a person ask for in a party pleasing cheese? (No, don't answer that.) Who could resist the siren call of Cotswold's smushy chive-y zing?  Probably no one.  Though the dedicates of Kraft singles probably wouldn't.  I don't really like to talk about Them.
Cotswold is, at its heart, really a two note cheese.  It belts out its oddly strong aromatic flavor in only the key of Cheddar-like and chive.  This, reader, is not always a bad thing.  Sure, I adore a nicely ripened Tallegio with its beefy whiff.  But sometimes I want to plop down on the sofa, butter knife in hand, and happily stuff my face with a cheese that doen't need to be complicated to be delicious.

*This is also the cheese of "Cheese Rolling at Cooper's Hill in Gloucestershire" fame.  The last Official event saw 18 injuries.  4 of which were spectators  fainting.  It was considered a light year.