Author Topic: "Earthy" = Dirt?  (Read 2202 times)

Offline Mike Richards

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"Earthy" = Dirt?
« on: August 25, 2012, 10:20:03 PM »
I have really enjoyed reading posts on the forum.  I have paid most attention to semi-hard cheeses, because that's what I was most interested in.  However, I have also enjoyed reading about the soft/mold-ripened cheeses.  I have had very little experience with these cheeses.  My depth with blues included salad dressing and crumbles on hamburgers.  I've been enticed by H-J-K's, Boofer's, and others' experiences.  I bought a blue cheese (don't remember what it was...) shortly after reading about stilton approximations.  It was great--especially with a piece of salami wrapped around it.  Today I bought a cambozola (never heard of it before today).  I really enjoyed it, though it had a flavor that I remember first recognizing after biting into an old piece of bread--dirt!  That's how I've identified when things are moldy..."Hey, this tastes like dirt, it must be moldy"...even when I couldn't see any mold on them.  So, as I was thinking, "this dirt isn't too bad," it occurred to me--is this what people mean when they say a cheese has an "earthy" flavor?  Way to dress it up!  "Earthy" is much more appealing, as a flavor, than "Dirty".

Once I get semi-hard cheeses down, I'll try my hand at one of these guys.
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Offline BobE102330

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Re: "Earthy" = Dirt?
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2012, 09:03:06 AM »
Hi Mike, I am no expert, but to me there's dirt (think the stuff blowing around a road construction site) and earth - that stuff you know will make your vegetables delicious.  I think that's the earthy tones described in cheese and wine, as you suspected.  Still it's a euphemism for "taste of good soil". ;)

Don't be shy about trying mold ripened cheeses.  I started making Camemberts to have something ready before my cheddars and montasios.  It's no more difficult to make than a harder cheese.  I've had some good results and some oops, but oops resulted in something tasty, even if it wasn't a Camembert.  I just have to figure out what I did to get oops, because I have had a request for more.  Maybe it was similar to a tomme with just a bit of Geo and PC on the rind...

Offline Mike Richards

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Re: "Earthy" = Dirt?
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2012, 09:28:23 AM »
Bob, you sound like the guys in the civil engineering department.  "Hey, are you teaching that class on dirt this semester?"  I ask.  The CE guy glares at me and responds coldly, "It's a soil class, not a dirt class."  ;)

The more I try these cheeses, the more and more I like them.  I think I mentioned it before, but the only cheese I've ever had that was just plain disgusting to me was gammelost.  Barf... 

I am getting more comfortable with Gouda, and I think I'll soon be confident enough to branch out.
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Offline BobE102330

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Re: "Earthy" = Dirt?
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2012, 09:42:07 AM »
Glad I was able to get a grin out of you.  I'm with you on liking most of the broad spectrum of cheeses.  My only no was an elaborate dinner in the French countryside with a bunch of our French Air Force counterparts.  No idea what that one was, but I liked the other 10 or so offerings in the cheese course. 

I have become a bit of a cheese missionary - helping others discover that cheese is more than that bland stuff from the grocery store which is just an excuse to eat mustard.  I have to be careful with mold ripened cheeses - just presenting it as glorious tasting without allowing my inner chef/engineer describe the process that brought it to them.

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Re: "Earthy" = Dirt?
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2012, 11:00:16 AM »
Kudos to both of you for parsing Terra Firma so finely.  8)

Wait until you get into the cheeses with the mushroomy character. Now we're talkin' dirt earth compost!

When I came upon this forum, I was a cheese neophyte, having a very narrow perspective of what cheese could be. I am still a student but I have made and eaten cheeses that I would never have imagined before. I have also broadened the cheese palates of family members along the way. :)  Even so, if the name Esrom or Reblochon easily rolls off my tongue, family members look at me with the old "deer-in-the-headlights" look of incomprehension. I'm working at it. Soon, they will have enough familiarity with strange-sounding cheese names to confuse and dazzle their friends.  ;)

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Offline Mike Richards

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Re: "Earthy" = Dirt?
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2012, 02:48:40 PM »
Bob, I'm sure if I tried every cheese there was, I'd find more I didn't like, but so far so good.  French AF counter-part--were you/are you a pilot?  My wife is excited with my cheesemaking, if for no other reason, because I'm more likely to take her to Europe so I can see some of the cheesemaking there.  The only thing I've actually seen was when I was a boy scout in Germany.  We had summer camp in Switzerland, and during one of the hikes we passed what I remember looking like an old barn on the side of the mountain.  The old guy who lived there invited us in and showed us his cheesemaking operation.  I remember him sticking his finger in the pot and saying something none of us could understand.  I wonder now if he was telling us that's how he checked the temperature.  I bought a couple of cheeses from him.  I had no idea what they were, but they were good.

Boofer, I had been hoping that "mushroomy" was describing mushroom flavor like grilled mushrooms off a shish kebob or fried mushroom appetizers...compost, eh?  Any recommendations on something to try with a mushroom flavor so I can have the experience?

If only I could make cheese as well as I grow a mustache...

Offline BobE102330

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Re: "Earthy" = Dirt?
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2012, 06:06:35 PM »
Mike, I was lucky enough to be a Tomcat RIO for a while. (Like Goose in Top Gun)  Lots of fun, got to see a lot of the world I might not have otherwise seen.  That dinner somewhere in the country outside of Orange was amazing.  We sat down at 8PM and left the restaurant around 3AM.  A full 7 course meal, and when it came time to pay the bill it came to around $12 each.  Those were the days when the dollar was strong.

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Re: "Earthy" = Dirt?
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2012, 08:57:16 PM »
Boofer, I had been hoping that "mushroomy" was describing mushroom flavor like grilled mushrooms off a shish kebob or fried mushroom appetizers...compost, eh?  Any recommendations on something to try with a mushroom flavor so I can have the experience?
You might try this one or another example for starters. A number of well-aged cheeses might deliver a barnyard aroma or mushroom character from the rind treatment.

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Offline Teethingbiscuit

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Re: "Earthy" = Dirt?
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2012, 06:55:09 PM »
Huhu... Sound like fun.  I am not there yet.  My gouda just smells moldy! :D
I don't know how it tastes yet but I hold out high hopes. 
To cheese or not to cheese is the wrong question.  How about, "How to cheese, let me count the ways."

Offline Mike Richards

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Re: "Earthy" = Dirt?
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2012, 09:58:25 PM »
Hopefully it won't taste like dirt...unless that's how you want it to taste. ;)
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Offline MrsKK

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Re: "Earthy" = Dirt?
« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2012, 07:14:23 AM »
I decided to buy some Brie so I could taste it - and spit it out as soon as I could, due to the mushroomy flavor.  I've got serious mold and fungal allergies, so that flavor really turns me off.

I'll leave y'all to your dirt/earth/compost flavored cheeses, thank you very much!

Offline Mike Richards

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Re: "Earthy" = Dirt?
« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2012, 08:33:50 PM »
I just bought a wedge of Bri.  Yoav had suggested a number of different producers to try so that I could actually get a "good" one (as opposed to a walmart/Sam's club one), but I could only find one from his list.  It is significantly better than the other ones I've had.

The rind has real "mushroom" flavor--and I'm thrilled to report that it wasn't composty.  In fact, this might seem a little degrading to real cheese experts, it was more like someone took a fantastic cream of mushroom soup, and condensed it and called it cheese.  I'm very excited by the prospect of making something like this, where I was not excited about making something like the cheap-o cheese I'd had before.  Too bad I can only make cheese every other weekend.  :(
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Offline george (MaryJ)

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Re: "Earthy" = Dirt?
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2012, 05:40:11 AM »
And the brands are ... ?   :)
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Offline Mike Richards

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Re: "Earthy" = Dirt?
« Reply #13 on: September 14, 2012, 02:46:24 PM »
I'm going to assume that Yoav doesn't mind me posting what he sent me:

"... for a first taste I would suggest to ask for original French examples. Fromage de Meaux (they may call it Brie de Meaux) is superb.  Le Chatelain Camembert is perhaps one of the best pasteurized Camemberts out there. Graindorge also makes incredible Camemberts (Including one very special version with calvados apple brandy and bread crumbs "crumble" on top). Ile de France is a big co-op conglomerate and they have mass-produced products, however they have one product, their Normandie Camembert that is worth tasting (and not expensive either). Fromager d'Affinois is another large French producer that makes good examples. Try their double crème Brie. It's bigger in flavor and very supple texture. If you want to try something less traditional and really fantastic and rich, try their Fromager d'Affinois Brebis (Also sold as Brebis d'Affinois). It is a sheep's milk version of traditional Brie!  I also suggest to taste a Triple Crème so you can gauge the difference.  (If the cheese monger doesn't have any great selection to suggest, ask for Saint André or L'Explorateur). If you like these styles, you may want to continue on and try lactic bloomy cheeses like Chaource or Delice de Bourgogne, or Brillat Savarin.  I hope this is helpful as a starting point! Another not-so-distant cousin of the Brie/Camembert is the Coulommiers cheese - definitely worth trying too! "

I was only able to find Fromager D'Affinois, double cream here in Colorado Springs.  Like I said, it was great.  I'll be on the look out for some of these others, from now on.
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Offline bbracken677

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Re: "Earthy" = Dirt?
« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2012, 03:09:34 PM »
The St. Andre triple cream is pretty awesome as well!  It is what got me to make my cams...went triple cream as well.