There's a fine line between a perfectly ripe cheese and an over-ripe one. Whenever I see a beautiful, runny piece of cheese that is encased in plastic wrap I know that I'm running a risk. I'm not afraid to stick my nose in there and try to scent out any ammonia and sometimes the plastic can fool me. I've had many a cheese monger tell me that the scent of ammonia isn't a flaw, it's a natural by product of aging the cheese. This may be true, I'll admit that I'm not entirely convinced, although in the end it doesn't matter whether the taste and odor are considered a flaw or not. I just don't enjoy them and it ruins the cheese for me. So if the ammonia is present the cheese goes in the bin. Unfortunately, I am hooked on ripe cheese. Cheese that is runny and not liquid, with an almost elastic texture, and a flavor that melts across your palate as you slowly chew and swallow each decadent bite. The odds of catching it at that perfect moment before it topples over the edge of the hill are slim and yet the rewards are gratifying enough to be worth the risk.
One of the cheeses Tyler brought by was the Trefoil. It's a soft ripened cheese and it had that soft, giving texture that we look for when he arrived. The cheese was wrapped in paper and tied with rustic twine. It was helped along by the fact that it had been in his refrigerator snuggled up to a quantity of black truffles. The cheese itself was quite beautiful and perfectly ripe, just teetering on that edge. It is named for the clover that the sheep graze upon and the grassy herbal flavors are clearly present in the cheese. It was certainly a cheese that I would happy to taste again. It will be interesting to see how their program develops. The fact that so many people are jumping into the cheese game is a wonderful thing for the rest of us.