Tiarella, thanks for the lead on your previous thread!
The milk was pasteurized, non-homogenized full-fat cow's milk from Strauss Creamery in CA; and yes, I picked up some matting on the way home Monday evening, it's now sitting pretty on a proper surface--also raised about four inches higher for better circulation.
Reading your winter cheese thread, I've realized another issue: too much rennet. The flocculation time was 40 1/2 minutes (13 1/2 x 3), instead of the target 45, and I made the note to use less next time (this make had 6 drops of Marzyme double-strength rennet). The curd was also nice and firm: probably too firm, it appears.
I take your and Sailor's points about handling the rind; I had in mind the Tornegus wine-washed rind with herbs, using oil instead, but of course the alcohol would help keep any herb molds in line. So this shall be a simple oiled rind, and the cheese will tell me what it wants to be without any outside help....
It's fascinating, really--we used to own a hand-made dessert company, and every spring we would have an awful time with the cream cheese: cheesecakes would be too soft, not set properly, a consistency nightmare for about 4-6 weeks. We thought it was to do with the animals' move from barn to field, fodder to grass, but we never knew for sure. It's really good to get some ideas why, even after all this time!