This past Sunday marked one of favorite holidays—International Cheese Day. It’s a dream come true for turophiles—a fete for fromage!
This year, Cheese Day fell over the weekend, so I took the party on the road and rallied the troops for a Sunday Funday in Carmel.
We started with brunch at Carmel Belle—my favorite morning spot in town. In honor of Cheese Day, I made sure my breakfast included cheese—a delicious breakfast sandwich with a poached egg, Brie, bacon and Savoy spinach on a Parker-Lusseau croissant. The creaminess of the Brie was a nice accent to the richness of the classic combination of bacon and eggs.
We also nibbled on Carmel Belle’s well-curated menu of cheese and charcuterie, sampling the “blue board”—a slice of classic Point Reyes blue cheese, tangy Maytag blue cheese and the smooth buttermilk blue. The accompanying walnuts and honey helped balance out the pungent flavors of these cheeses.
Next, we trekked up the block to the Carmel Plaza to visit the Peninsula’s one-stop shop for fromage: The Cheese Shop.
The Cheese Shop has a seemingly endless selection of cheeses, along with associated nibbles of nuts, crackers and (of course) wine.
My friends and I sampled easily a dozen different varieties of cheese. Some were winners . . . others less so.
I’m always drawn to the more unusual selections in The Cheese Shop’s collection. Sitting front and center was the mysterious “Moonshine Cheese.” My curiosity was piqued, especially after several Twitter exchanges with fellow foodie and blogger Camilla Mann—the inspiration for my weekly Friday Fromage series—about these cheese.
I’ve enjoyed a number of cheeses soaked in wine or beer, but soaking cheese in moonshine was a new one for me. Moonshine Cheese is a semi-soft goat’s milk cheese wrapped in corn husks that have been soaked in White Lightning moonshine. It’s made by Bonnyclabber Cheese Company in Virginia. Check out Camilla’s review of this cheese here.
I watched enraptured as our cheesemonger unwrapped the cheese, delicately cutting the cornhusks to reveal the runny cheese underneath. Immediately, I got a pungent whiff of goat’s milk and booze. Pungent is probably the best word I can think of to describe this cheese. It’s not for the faint-hearted—it’s got a strong bite to it and when I offered tastes to friends later in the day, most turned up their noses. It’s an acquired taste, I suspect, and I’m not sure it’s a cheese I’m really itching to try again.
We asked our cheesemonger to choose another cheese off the beaten path, he asked, “Have you tried coconut cheese?” He pulled out a wheel of KoKos and cut some slivers for us to sample.
KoKos isn’t really a “coconut” cheese—it’s pasteurized cow’s milk cheese infused with coconut cream. I’m not really a big fan of coconut, but this cheese was really tasty! It reminded be a bit of a buttery piña colada. It was rich and creamy, with a hint of sweetness from the coconut. It would be a great pairing for white wine, especially dessert wines.
The KoKos cheese was much better received than the Moonshine Cheese—its subtle sweetness earned it the title of “crowd favorite” from our cheese tasting.
After stuffing ourselves silly last Sunday, we’re already planning a return visit to The Cheese Shop—after all, they’ve got enough cheeses to make every day Cheese Day.
The Cheese Shop is located at the corner of Ocean and Junipero, on the first floor of the Carmel Plaza, in Carmel. 800-828-9463. www.thecheeseshopinc.com.