A whole truckle of Wensleydale

I love cheese.   I love it so much that to this day, I can overeat enough of it to make me almost sick.  I love it so much that I kept a stock of the locally produced compressed milk pellets on hand to sate my cravings, even though they barely tasted cheesy.  Even cheese food is a wonderfully delicious product to my taste buds.

As a cheese lover, I’m always ready to try new shapes and flavors.  Most recently this took the form of a something-or-other round with cranberries in it.  What could be more delicious than cheese?  Cheese with fruit, of course!  Yum.  After sharing more than half a round with Corina, I was able to convince myself to stop consuming, but it was difficult.  It was, after all, a sweet, crumbly cheese – what could be better for dessert, for a perfect cap to any meal?  And after the cap, how about a recap?  I still get shivers just thinking about it.

If there’s one thing both thinking and deliciousness lead to, it’s research.  So, after a cursory interweb browse, I feel pretty confident that the cheese we consumed so rambunctiously was a Wensleydale.  Wensleydale comes from Yorkshire, specifically the town of Hawes.  I feel like I should now be talking with a Secret Garden accent. It has a supple, crumbly, moist texture (check) and a flavor that suggests wild honey (double check) balanced with a fresh acidity (quoi?).  What is ‘fresh acidity’, anyway?  And how does it relate to this totally delicious, totally sweet cheese?  Those cheese tasters and their weird ideas of flavor.  it’s almost as bad as wine connoisseurs.

The cheese comes in a range of sizes, the smallest of which is a a wax-covered round called a ‘truckle’, which evidently comes from the phrase ‘truck a wheel’ and can refer to the pulleys in a block or the wheels of a truckle or trundle bed, or any small wheels or casters.  The word ‘truckle’ can also mean ‘to submit’.  Ah, my little obsequious cheese!  Finally, this cheese is ‘suited to combination with sweeter produce’, commonly cranberries.  In England, they also eat it typically with fruitcake or Christmas Cake, which I can barely think about.  Those crazy little islanders…

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Pumpkin in my coffee, limas in my tea.

It is said that all of use could use occasional flavor in our lives.  Typically, I heartily agree with this idea.  What is life without a little spice, a little something different, a little something new?  Which is why i tried the Pumpkin Spice variety of coffee available at my office this morning.

It is, in fact, something definitely different and new.  And it does have a little spice.  However, I may be more conservative than I realized in regards to coffee.  For me, though i like the flavored stuff, I am a bit of a Nazi.  I would like to conserve the flavor of coffee as, well, coffeeish.  If I wanted to drink pumpkin pie tasting stuff, I’d get myself some pie and a blender.

Be that as it may, it makes me wonder what new flavors we will try next.  Tomato hot chocolate?  Zucchini lemonade?  Lima bean Lipton’s?  The world remains, as always, full of possibilities.  Some are just more delectable and well thought out than others.

On a side note, good luck to the roommie who will be putting one of her cats to sleep this morning…

Organic Bankok? Not so much.

I have recently gotten a kick out of Harney & Sons products, which are being sold at my local Au Bon Pain.  The products sold are all organic, meaning the tea, the sugar and honey sweeteners, and the flavorings are all organic.  I think that’s cool and diligent, and I appreciate it.  But I appreciate the taste even more, which is sweet but not too sweet, and allows the natural flavors of the tea to come through.

Let’s discuss tea a little bit first, and the way it works.  Tea is a type of plant whose leaves, when dried, can be used to prepare a flavorful beverage by steeping the leaves in hot water.  The key here is hot water – it has to be very hot, just on the verge of boiling, to get the most flavor out of the leaves.  In addition, if you keep the leaves in the water as it cools (especially with green teas), the tea will turn bitter.  To a certain extent, this happens with all teas as they cool, whether the leaves remain or not.  That’s why Southerners know the only kind of iced tea that’s drinkable is sweet tea – the sugar covers that bitter taste.  That’s why fruit teas include at least a hint of lemon – the acid cuts the bitterness of the cold tea.  And that’s why Harney flavors its bottled organic teas – almost every one has some sweetener in it, along with a flavor to cover the bitter aspect of the tea itself but retain its less potent flavors.

Now, Harney does all kinds of teas (loose-leaf, sachets, iced, black, green, flavored, white, organic, iced, and bottled), and guessing from the ones I’ve tasted, they’re all good, high-quality teas.  Unfortunately, the Organic Bankok leaves something to be desired.

The website describes it thus:

Organic Bangkok: An aromatic blend of Organic green teas with Organic honey, Organic lemongrass, Organic ginger and sweet Organic coconut. A fragrant blend reminiscent of Thai cooking.

Unfortunately, there’s not nearly enough lemongrass or ginger in it to counteract the taste of the tea.  So I get bitters and then a faint aftertaste of coconut.  Instead, I would recommend the Organic Peach or the plain Organic Green.