November 05, 2013

This Cheese Doesn't Suck: Taleggio

    Taleggio is certainly one of autumn's most perfect cheeses.  Perhaps because it is made during the fall season that makes it so.  Contrary to what most people think about cheese making it is not all done during the peak of the growing season.  Sure there's the ideal lush alpine hillside in high summer with happy fat cows grazing on happy fat grasses.  While this certainly does happen it is not the norm for all cheese making.  

    Taleggio is unique in that it is made autumn and winter when the cows are stracche, or "tired".  Meaning that the summer grazing is over and the milk produced has gained more acidity than it had in the high season.  But enough with the science blah blah.  
    This cheese is made of poor first impressions.  Aged for about 40 days and washed weekly with a seawater sponge it gains some, ahem, interesting characteristics.  It develops a strong odorous wiff of feet, brine, molding hay, and dirty animal.  (I know this is hard, but stay with me here.) 

    Thankfully that is just the rind.  What lies beneath the offensive outside is a creamy wonderland of cheese.  Soft, supple, mildly sticky texture that all but becomes a fondue-like texture under the tooth.  Its flavors bursting with clarified butter, roasted almond, egg, over ripe fruit, and its characteristic meatiness.  This is a most magical of cheeses.  
    Be even more daring and melt it open faced on slices of baguette for grilled cheese bliss.