On Tuesday evening Stephanie and I attended our first cheese class since Alpine Cheese and Alsace Wine back in March. I didn’t really look at the Fall schedule until well after it came out, which in some ways actually made things easier. There were only a few classes with space still available and the ones that were left tended to be either very basic or more unusual.
I gravitated towards a more unusual one that I hadn’t seen before called “Leaf-Wrapped Lovelies”. The description began:
“So many lovely and delicious cheeses come in leaf-wrapped packages. Especially in Italy, Spain and France and now increasingly in the U.S., many artisan cheesemakers have made a tradition of wrapping their most delicate cheeses in chestnut, fig or grape leaves, both to offer protection to small tender wheels as well as to impart flavor.”
What I liked about the class was that it wasn’t region-, cheese-type-, or pairing-specific. The characteristic that tied these cheeses together was how they were finished—and in a very artisanal, handcrafted way. Though the Cheese School‘s plates are always handsome, I think the nine cheeses below were certainly the most diverse and probably the most beautiful so far.
Starting with the green cabbage-wrapped cheese at the top and going around clockwise, the cheeses were:
- Robiola Incavolata*
- Capriole, O’Banon*
- Rivers Edge Chevre, Up in Smoke*
- Rivers Edge Chevre, Autumn Crottin
- Sally Jackson Sheep*
- Pecorino Foglie di Noce
- Rogue Creamery, Rogue River Blue
I marked my favorites with an asterisk.
The class was led by Lynne Devereux who took us around the plate almost as if she were bringing us from farmstead to creamery. Each cheese came with a story about who made it, how it’s made, the care that goes into how it’s wrapped, as well as a discussion about taste, texture, and how it paired with the wines of the evening.
The Rivers Edge Up in Smoke was particularly interesting. They actually smoke the maple leaves with hickory and alder before wrapping the cheese and smoking it again. I thought it would make for a particularly manly chevre-chaud.
The Robiola was just too cool not to take a picture of, with its cabbage leaf wrapping. Apparently it almost never made it to the plate, as it was held up in Customs on the way from Italy. It was Stephanie’s favorite cheese, and my second favorite (I really liked the Sally Jackson Sheep).
In the end, all that was left on our plates was a pile of leaves.