Sampling a New Cheese: Hippo Flambe
My name is Robin Berger, you can find out more about me and what I like to cook on my food blog: http://blog.hippoflambe.com . There are no recipes for hippo on my site, I just threaten my children with serving it when I get tired of answering the question, “What’s for dinner?” Aside from being a foodie I have been a cheese lover all my life, happily eating from every category of cheese even when I was a child. When I was eight, a family friend once left me alone with an entire 10 inch wheel of Brie she was letting come to room temperature. By the time anyone thought to check on me, I had eaten all but a small wedge. My love of cheese has only gotten stronger as I got older. So when I received the phone call telling me I was selected as a tester for “Birth of a Cheese” I was excited that now my feelings for cheese would be validated, I was official.
Someone needed to sign for the cheese when it arrived and not leave it languishing in the sun for hours. So instead of waiting at home with my children for my sample to arrive I had it delivered to my husband’s work. That meant I spent the day calling him to check if my sample of cheese had arrived. When it finally appeared I waited anxiously on the other end of the phone line as Lewis carefully unwrapped my new baby and described the new cheese. Four hours later he unceremoniously buried the cheese in his backpack and biked home.
Before I could taste the cheese I needed to allow it to rest at room temperature for an hour. Quick calculations revealed I only needed to wait another half an hour because it was unrefrigerated on the ride home. When completely unwrapped a large golden tan wedge of cheese with striking blue veins was revealed The rind was pebbly like the moon and a deeper color then the center, with a musty, earthy smell to it. The hint of gym locker lets you know this is a quality aged blue cheese.
The first bite revealed a creamy texture with crystal nuggets of blue cheese that are a bit gravelly. The flavor is subtle, not overpowering, a bit sweet with a sharpness at the back of the mouth as you chew and swallow. The rind is deeper, mustier, drier with a more consistent flavor without the contrasting blue. This is a cheese to eat for any occasion. As I sampled the cheese more I offered tastes to my family. Lewis lavished it with praise, claiming it could convert people to blue cheese lovers.
My boys normally don’t like blue cheese. However neither one of them wanted to give up the chance to take part in this official taste test. They each requested “a small, tiny taste,” and then another one so they could be clear about their opinions. Their conclusions? Julian, my 6 year old said, “salty, creamy, smooth, tasty and fluffy. But no thanks, I don’t want any more.” Sebastian, my 9 year old said, “Ummm, but it needs less salt.” They both agree it should be named “Blue Reyes.” Personally I just want more, as my sample disappeared all too quickly as I tasted and discovered it goes well with European sour dough bread, Finn Crisps, Wolaver’s Wildflower Wheat Ale and Micheal David’s Petit Petit blended red wine.