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Taleggio: Cheese of the Month (Mar 2013)

(Someone had to take the bull by the antlers)
My first experience with taleggio was cheese nirvana; stinky, delicious, smooth, and under $20/lb. I thought I was in cheese heaven.
Subsequent purchases have been disappointing, too mild and presumably under-ripe. Aside from smell, are there other indicators for when it's ready, and what is the best way to mature it once I own it?
Thanks, fellow cheese mice.

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  1. Closest source so far is 140 miles away. If I am going to drive that far, I am not going to quibble about the price. Still searching for closer to the Space Coast.

    1 Reply
    1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

      There used to be two cheese shops in Vero Beach. I know that Bodega Blue closed over a year ago, after its owner died during a vacation to the Bahamas. I don't know if the other shop, The Cheese Cave, is still open. You might want to look into it. Also, there are Whole Foods stores in Orlando and Winter Park. I haven't been in either store, but like other WF locations, they should have a cheese department.

    2. Hello...I saw the poll over on Site Talk about cheese of the month and am curious about how cheese of the month is going to work. I'm not sure how a cheese-novice such as myself can contribute to such a thread, so I thought I'd just attach myself to this post and see how the conversation plays out. I guess, for me, I'd like to know how to select it, how to store it, what to use it for, and what makes it special (ie., what should I notice about this cheese when I taste it?). Hopefully, I'll learn all of that by reading along?

      Thanks for getting us started, Veggo!

      ~TDQ

      2 Replies
      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        Cheese of the month will work however the participants want it to be. Entirely user-directed. One of the valuable opportunities is to be tasting together and sharing impressions. I've done online tastings of the same wine and the collective experience can be quite wide-ranging.

        Since you're in an urban area, I suggest that you drop by your favorite cheese shop to buy some Taleggio. Maybe you'll even have a chance to try from two different lots, then you can decide which tastes better to you and report back to this thread.

        Even though I posted a recipe, mostly I consume Taleggio as a table cheese. It costs less usually than French washed rind cheeses, seems to be more widely available, and is an easy choice to add variety to a cheese course.

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Oh! Interesting idea to ask to buy some from two different lots. I shall try that. I have access to a fantastic cheeseshop and I can't wait to go in there with some purpose!

          ~TDQ

      2. Are you talking about cave aged or factory made cheese? Pasteurized or raw?

        I don't think I've ever had Taleggio, Veggo. Now I'll have to seek at my local salumeria. They carry quite a lot imported items so just maybe I'll find it there. Then there's always Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge.

        http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/shop/...

        From The Cheesemonger's Top Ten Rules for Ultimate Cheese Sanity:

        "5. Washed rind cheeses like taleggio, limburger, and epoisses are best eaten straight from the cheese shop. These are the smelly cheeses, and the stink will only proliferate in the small confines of your refrigerator. Their rinds (and, in turn, the inner paste) will dry out and crack, which is nothing short of a death sentence for the bacteria living on the rind that makes this style of cheese distinctive. Washed-rinds will last two to four weeks, but try not to see them past their first week home."

        http://www.thekitchn.com/the-cheesemo...

        19 Replies
        1. re: Gio

          I love washed rind cheeses and I have zero issues with lingering smell. I keep them in sealed glass containers, Pyrex or Duralex. Complete non issue.

          I love me some Taleggio.

          1. re: mcf

            So the Taleggio doesn't dry out in the glass containers, MCF?
            Good to know.

            1. re: Gio

              Nope, nor in the plastic ones I used to use. I try for a pretty close match between sizes of cheese and glass.

            2. re: mcf

              this will be a first for me trying taleggio.

              can we also include a novice cheese for beginners or another cheese from Italy or region?

              is there a guideline for describing the cheese?

              I think we need some structure.

              1. re: jpr54_1

                At risk of annoying some europeans, I would say Taleggio is the Italian counterpart to French epoisses, but a little firmer and 1/3 less cost. Semi-soft with a thin, washed rind (nothing like brie), and a rich flavor and aroma.
                At cheese shops where one can taste I learn a lot. I sampled 9 at the Artisan Cheese Company in Sarasota last week. But many gourmet stores that are less cheese-centric have all the cheeses pre-wrapped and there is little opportunity to learn the cheese or its ripeness. The 2 I did buy were about $35/lb, and I would not have paid that price without knowing their flavor. (Neither was taleggio).

                1. re: Veggo

                  Even at stores that have pre-cut and wrapped cheeses, it's worth asking if you can taste before buying (assuming you can find a staff member to help you). Often times this is possible. You just select the piece that suits you, then the staffer unwraps it and shaves off a taste for you. You buy that piece if you like it, and if not, the staff will reweigh and rewrap it to go back on the shelf.

              2. re: mcf

                Same here... I put washed rind cheeses in sealed glass jars or in pyrex containers to age further.

                Taleggio, like Limberger, grows runnier/softer/smoother and tastes more buttery/meatier(?), the older it gets.

                Hmm, now I want to go buy a couple of lbs. of the stuff...

                1. re: deet13

                  I don't think cheeses ripen further once the wheel is cut, they just kind of age... anyway, those are too good to last long around here. :-)

              3. re: Gio

                Gio, I think most of the european ripened cheeses available to us stateside have been pasteurized, because they are too young to qualify for the "aged" exception.

                1. re: Veggo

                  Taleggio in particular will be pasteurized in the US - from the links I can find, it's best consumed at 25-40 days - well below the 60-day threshold of the US regs.

                  1. re: Veggo

                    Thanks, Veggo. But... Here's a link to this very discussion, re imported cheese:

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3855...

                    And just for the record here's a link to a thread in which a Customs Officer answers questions about bringing cheese and other food into the US:

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/353902

                    1. re: Gio

                      The thread from Customs Officer was informative and helpful.

                      1. re: Gio

                        the only hitch is that what is allowable in quantities for personal use in your luggage doesn't apply to commercial quantities.

                        You can bring home that wedge of runny, young Brie in your luggage -- but you can't import a couple of wheels of it.

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          But we can buy raw milk cheeses from cheese mongers who can import them, as I understand it.

                          From Wiki:
                          "Twenty-eight U.S. states do not prohibit sales of raw milk."

                          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raw_milk...

                          1. re: Gio

                            Without getting into a lot of very off-topic, and frankly boring details -- raw milk is domestic, so has nothing to do with import laws. The rule of thumb for cheese is 60 days, although I cannot imagine what happens at the stroke of midnight on the 59th day that magically renders the cheese safe. And small quantities for personal consumption fall under completely different rules than quantities for commercial resale.

                            I also know that there are artisanal raw-milk cheese produced in the US....but those fall under different rules yet.

                            Yes, this drives people completely mad.

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              Actually, this is not a matter of import laws. The same 60-day aging regulation applies to raw milk domestic cheeses in the US, as well as to imported cheeses. The laws for raw milk are different from those affecting cheeses made from raw milk. On the one hand, the sale of raw milk is controlled at the individual state level in the US, which is why it is legal to sell raw milk in some states and illegal in others. State law applies. On the other hand, the sale of cheeses made from raw milk is determined by federal law. The 60-day rule is therefore enforceable in all 50 states. Ditto in Canada, except that Quebec allows the sale of younger raw milk cheeses.

                              Raw milk Taleggio is available in the US. Some Taleggio is aged as long as 10 weeks and so satisfies the 60-day rule. Zingerman's has a raw milk Taleggio in stock right now. Still, you're right that most Taleggio found in the US is pasteurized and aged for a shorter time.

                              1. re: cheesemaestro

                                yes, sorry -- my 60-day comment wasn't clear -- but the 60-day is across-the-board for commercially-sold cheeses.

                    2. re: Gio

                      Gio, I love Talleggio. Bought some today at Salumeria Italiana in the North End for $14/lb.

                      Monica's usually has it. There is a rosa..reddish rind that they sometimes have which I think has a little more flavor.

                      Golden Goose on the waterfront sometimes has it on special for about $8/lb but you need to eat it right away or it develops sort of an ammonia taste that I don't care for.

                      FK will certainly have it.

                      As to lasting 2-4 weeks, I would think it would dry out. I buy in small quantities and it's usually consumed within 2-4 days. I think its much milder than a limburger.

                      Hope you enjoy it!

                      1. re: 9lives

                        Thanks very much 9lives. Have noted the places you named. Since Pace is just up the pike, so to speak, from us I'll ask there just in case they have it, then if that fails into Boston we shall go.

                    3. I'll have to look for it...I don't even know if I can find it here!

                      T-Fal makes a cheese keeper that has a charcoal filter in the lid -- it keeps the 'fridge-funk' at bay -- as does my Tupperware Cheese box -- I bought it here in France, and I don't see it on the US site, but it *rocks* -- you can open the door and stay on your feet, even with bleus and chevres that otherwise knock you flat.

                      Do try not to seal good artisanal cheese with an airtight seal -- cheese is a living being, and it needs air, or the being dies (and gets REALLY funky, in a bad way) Doesn't matter with industrial plastic bricks, but artisanal cheese needs TLC.

                      You can also wrap them in deli paper - a lightweight paper with a gas-permeable liner that keeps cheese fresh and living without getting sweaty and moldy.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: sunshine842

                        When I buy cheese, I ask for a couple sheets of the paper they wrap cheese in. I have amassed a decent collection now - and when the wrap on my cheese needs to be replaced, I wrap in a new sheet of paper, then a loose plastic wrap over it.

                        1. re: jeanmarieok

                          Wax paper is our go-to cheese-wrap. *Really* difficult to find in Germany, tho.

                          1. re: linguafood

                            Can you buy the special deli paper in Berlin, Lingua?

                            I also use parchment if I don't have any of the special stuff on hand - it works well, too.

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              It's really difficult to come by in stores. Many cheese mongers will supply special wrapping paper for the cheeses they sell, and we always keep them for multiple uses.

                              1. re: linguafood

                                The package I have (Albal is the brand in France) says it's made by Cofresco (a German company!) and distributed by Melitta France.

                                Found this: http://www.hygi.de/toppits_wurst_kaes...

                                It looks like the same stuff I've got (obviously, no guarantee that you can *find* it, but might give you somewhere to start!

                                )

                                Toppits is another of Cofresco's brands -- hope that helps!

                                1. re: sunshine842

                                  Oh yeah! Good link, sunshine! Hope I'll remember till May :-)

                                  1. re: linguafood

                                    Hmmm...possible trouble on the horizon....I was out, and had to look high and low to find it.

                                    Given the crap weather we had earlier this week, it's possible that the shelf was just picked over...but there used to be two facings on the shelf, and now it's just one.

                              2. re: sunshine842

                                Parchment. Thank you, this is very helpful to me.

                        2. I, now know that taleggio is smear ripened