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Whose side are you on…?

March 3, 2010

Throughout the ages there have been iconic clashes of classic rivals that divide people right down the middle.  Are you a Trekkie (or Trekker as they like to be called), or do you long to join the ranks of the Jedi-knights from Star Wars?  Mac or the PC?  How about the Beatles and the Rolling Stones?  Both are classic, English bands that revolutionized the way that we listen to music and continue to serve as benchmarks for generations to come.  But which do you prefer?

This same debate rages on in the cheese world when discussing traditional English Farmhouse cheddar.  Montgomery’s or Keen’s?  Although Montgomery’s is considered by many to be the English cheddar of choice, Keen’s cheddar has a fervent following of its own that would beg to differ.  Both utilize raw milk from Freisian cows, both are produced in the fields of Somerset in western England, and both are finished and aged at Neal’s Yard Dairy in the heart of London.  Although I have had several occasions to experience and savour Montgomery’s cheddar, this was the first time I had the opportunity to try his rival…

Up until this moment, I would say that I was firmly of the mind that Montgomery’s was the definitive cheddar.  I didn’t think it could get any better than this.  That being said, after trying Keen’s Farmhouse Cheddar for the first time, it is without a doubt the best cheddar that I personally have had the pleasure of tasting.  I include the picture just to look at the texture and blue marbling as it is quite striking in person.  I don’t think I have seen a cheddar with such visually distinctive character.    I couldn’t agree more with the horseradish aroma that is sometimes associated with this cheese.  This immediately came to mind even before I saw the tasting notes at Rubiner’s.  The paste is very smooth and dry without the amino acid crystals that you would come to expect in a cheese such as this.  I hesitate to use the word “sharp” as I don’t find that to be very descriptive.  The acidity is very muted to where the flavor of the milk and the genuine barnyard funk associated with a great cheddar, really shines through.  This is a cheese that begs to be eaten with a great I.P.A. and savoured…very…slowly…  Keen’s cheddar has opened my eyes.  Maybe I am a Stones kind of guy…

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. March 4, 2010 11:49 am

    I am on the side of “needs to try more cheeses.” It’s interesting; I view my exploration of cheeses in similar terms that I view my exploration of beers (and wine, really). There are the mainstream, usual suspects. Then there are the really interesting, diverse offerings. Does this make sense?

    • March 4, 2010 2:18 pm

      I completely agree with you! I find that the mainstream players have been pegged as providing a benchmark as to what a particular style should smell like, taste like, how it should be produced, etc… What is interesting, in my opinion, is exploring the diversity that is made available by local craftsman. Once we start exploring the idea of terroir with local goods such as cheese and wine, I think we can really appreciate the quality offerings that are available.

  2. March 4, 2010 5:45 pm

    This blog is such informative, lively, tasty fun! We all need to explore more cheese (have you seen the horrid American “cheese” ad on the Food Channel that says, “A country is only as good as its cheese”? Heaven forfend. Your blog made my mouth water…

  3. Pat permalink
    March 4, 2010 8:05 pm

    I wish I had 1/100 of the knowledge of cheese that you have. I really am impressed that you are doing this and the cheese you let us sample a few months ago was to die for. When we were in Italy, we got to sample many cheeses that were new to me and “not processed” meaning they were not chemically altered and machine made meaning high production. It was like entering a world.
    Believe it or not, the local Shop Rite started making home made mozzerella and before you laugh, they actually had a large vat of warm “stuff” in the store and yards of cheese cloth and this gentleman was squeezing out water from the “stuff” and wrapping it up to sell still warm. I have to say it was delicious. Just goes to show you that even if you produce large quantities of cheese or anythingfor that matter, that if you give it the proper care and attention, you can make a product that shows that people care.

  4. Pat permalink
    March 4, 2010 8:06 pm

    Beatles Rule…though I also like the Stones

  5. Dan permalink
    March 9, 2010 6:50 am

    Do I have to pick a side? Its a win win as far as Im concerned.

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  1. Pairing Series #2 – Cheddar « Cave-Aged Blog

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