Tuesday, March 10, 2009
I attended a very interesting seminar in Italy in the Science of Gastronomy University in Pollenzo in Bra last year. The seminar dealt with the cheese tasting. I think it's important to pass on what you learn to everyone who may be interested, so here goes:
When you are tasting a cheese for the first time it is very important to focus on the 5 senses: nose, eye, ear, mouth, and hand... ear? yes ear!
Sight: Here you will focus on the colors that you see. Look carefully at the shape of the cheese. The size is important when it falls under set rules. Is the size even, convex, plain, what is the height of the cheese. Is the rind of the cheese formed (young cheese) is it eaten (mature cheese)? Cheese connoisseurs say that the rind is the kidney of the cheese. Notice the color of the rind, is it brown or white? Look at the paste of the cheese, is it smooth, does it have "eyes", are the holes regular?
Taste: Is the taste good or bad, do you like it or not? does it meet your expectations, how would you describe the taste, what is the intensity of the flavor?
Touching: Only use your hands when studying and tasting a new cheese. Notice the reaction that your finger gets when it touches the cheese. Do your hands get sticky, do they become humid? What is the reaction of your tongue and palate when it touches the cheese?
Hearing: Does the cheese make a tearing sound. Does it have a chewy sound?
To resume: When you taste a cheese for the very first time make it like a wine tasting event. Carefully take the cheese in your hands, break off a part, smell it, breath in the aroma, describe what you smell: fruity, floury, vegetable aroma, acidic, ect... Taste it and see how your mouth reacts to the cheese, describe what you taste. You can compare with other cheeses and slowly but surely you palate will educate itself to the cheese tasting experience.
What is your favorite cheese? Mine is Gorgonzola Dolce...Stefano, my cousin Zaza's Italian husband just had some flown in to me from Italy...Yummy!
If you are seriously interested in learning about cheese, here is an excellent website that will highlight important cheese facts and notions: