Oxbow Cheese Tasting

Before leaving California I managed to try out all of the cheeses that Kevin and I bought from Oxbow over the weekend. Here is a brief report.

First up was Sparkenhoe Red Leicester which caught our eye because it had a truly splendid color (it comes from Annatto). Red Leicesters are generally milder than cheddars, but they cook really well and it was good to know that you can get cheese of that variety in the US. This one comes from the UK, however – indeed it is apparently the only Red Leicester actually made in Leicestershire.

Blue de Basque is a French blue cheese made from sheep’s milk. It was a recommendation from the young lady who served us, and we bought it on the basis of a taste sample, which should be its own recommendation. The cheese is made in the Pyrénées (of course!) and I’m interested in the comment on the web site I pointed to saying that it is “‘thermalized’ but not pasteurized”. I’ll have to check out what that means, but I’m pleased to see the cheese was OK for sale in CA.

Roomano Pradera is an aged Gouda made from skimmed milk, which we bought to see if it was as good as the full-fat milk Goudas we normally buy. Kevin and I are fans of aged Gouda, and we were very happy with this one. Of course, like all cheeses of that type, it has a tendency to turn into granite if you don’t take care of it, but that’s something I’m sure you are already aware of.

Finally we tried a habanero cheddar. As a cheddar it was quite plasticy, and mild to boot, but just when you start to think that it wasn’t up to much – boom! – the chili kicks in. The store lady recommended it for grilling, and I can see why. That stuff would make fabulous cheese on toast.