When I was a child I always demanded to know people’s favorites- my mother’s favorite color, whether she preferred me or my father more, my dad’s favorite number, my friends favorite cheese, my aunts favorite fruit, my dad’s favorite cheese, Santa’s favorite cookie, my uncle’s favorite cheese (and maybe he could tell me my aunt’s while he was at it). Things like that. It was important to know who and what was at the top.
One day, while on a long vacation car ride, my mother grew a little tired of my preference requests. I can’t remember if it was when I kept asking which brand of sugar-free jam was her favorite on wheat bread or whether she preferred Folgers or Yuban coffee – it was the eighties- for the fifth time, but I remembered her saying, “Kirstin, I don’t have a favorite (although she really preferred Yuban). What’s the point? My favorite could change next week.”
I think it was just her and I in the car, otherwise I would have turned to my father and started asking him about his preferred pre-ground coffee, but instead I sulked. Years later when I stopped pouting and my mother’s response had sufficiently simmered, I started questioning the idea of favorites. What does it matter if we have favorites? Why do we cling to them? Are we letting our favorites define us? Do we try to define our favorites?
With this in mind, I’d like to present a list of a few cheeses I adored in 2010 that I hope you will try in 2011. But they’re not my favorites. I admire them. I love their complexity. They’re deliciously delicious. I want to eat them on a bi-monthly basis. But all good cheese changes with the season, with the moon cycles, when cheesemakers try a new washing brine, and so forth. So, with respect for cheese’s transitive nature, I won’t suggest that any will or should stay the same so they’ll be that “favorite” that I remembered. All good artisan cheese changes. Try these awesome ones whenever possible.
This is just a short list in no particular order.
Juniper Grove Tumalo Tomme: firm, gouda- like goat’s milk, sweet and lively.
Cobb Hill Ascutney Mountain: washed rind, firm, brown buttery pineapple Alpine style.
River’s Edge Mayor of Nye Beach: washed rind, raw goat’s milk, softer semi-firm, funky.
Secret du Couvent: washed rind, raw cow’s milk, semi-firm, faint scent peanut butter, affinage Pascal Bellviere.
Cowgirl Creamery Inverness: tiny, lactic-acid set, Jersey cow’s milk that tastes as tangy as a goat’s.
Marzolino Rosso Del Chianti: tangy sheep’s milk, firm, rubbed with tomato juice as ages.
Barinaga Ranch Txiki: Basque style, buttery, earthy sheep’s milk.
Bleu Mont Clothbound Cheddar: funky, occasional crystals, meaty, mushroomy.
I’d also like to take this moment to say thank you, Sally Jackson, for making some of the most exciting cheese I’ve ever had, in 2010, and in years before. You will be missed with a vengeance.