|From back to front: Stawley, Cardo & Saint James|
Some people get excited about shoes, I get excited about cheese that smells like shoes. Don’t ask me how this started – my mother tells me that I loved to crawl as a baby and refused to walk until I was more than two. Maybe during those formative years I developed a nose for scrunge.
Needless to say, I got very excited in Di Bruno Bros. this week when I learned that the cheesemongers had just received a shipment of new whiffies from Neal’s Yard Dairy in London. Neal’s Yard is to milk what Milan is to Italian leather. Their cheeses are just as sumptuous. And just as expensive.
So, here’s what I did: I closed my eyes, opened my billfold, and bought three num-nums. Then I picked up a good loaf of bread, plucked the last of the Sungold tomatoes from the vines in the yard, and had myself a stinky cheese fest and photo shoot.
The boyfriend was out of town. He wouldn’t have liked this fete. Not at all. I didn’t care. I wanted the stink to myself. And because one of these stinkers cost $49.99/lb, I was happy not to share it. Not with anyone but you.
Allow me to describe the funk I was in:
This raw goat from Somerset looks like a toad stool, a very fall-appropriate lump. Its jacket is stunning, a thick bunting of Geotrichum – the same mold you find on Brie. Underneath, there is a gorgeous cream line and a center of nougat. This little package is slightly tangy, a twinge peppery, but mostly it's just beautifully balanced citrine softness. I want an ottoman made of Stawley for my tired Friday feet.
Next up, a washed rind goat's milk cheese made with thistle rennet as a coagulant – who knew? What a stunning gesture. Thistle rennet imbues cheese with a vaguely artichoke-like taste that I happen to love. If you like La Serena, a gooey Spanish cheese also made with thistle rennet, you'll want to seek out this wicked sliver. Cardo, a fudgy, faintly gritty cheese, reminded me of sirloin – very beefy. It’s the blood pudding of cheese. Curiously, it smells like baby feet, which is to say, very sweet.
“This cheese reminds me of dead flesh, but in a good way,” Di Bruno Bros. cheesemonger Zeke Ferguson told me as I was trying Saint James in the shop. I like Zeke, but should I trust him? Saint James smells like barn boots but tastes like warm grass, cooked mushrooms, and scrambled eggs. It’s made from sheep’s milk, so it’s a creamy thug, full-flavored and tongue-coatingly rich. For such a big cheese, it has a purr of a finish. I could have eaten a loaf, despite the gritty rind – a common trait in cheeses that are brined.
Note: I'm told that Di Bruno Bros. is testing these British babies out on the American market. Maybe we can start a minor squall if enough people ask for them. They are quite unique, and together, these three stooges make a splendid cheese plate for the discriminating Anglophile.