Each semester, Boston University Metropolitan College offers an array of culinary seminars open to the public. These range from oyster tastings to lessons in regional cuisines. Last Thursday, MET presented Artisanal Cheeses of the World with Ihsan Gurdal.
Upon walking into the demonstration room, I was overwhelmed with excitement. As a cheese-tasting virgin, I did not know what to expect, but the endless supply of cheese lining the marble island at the front the room suggested I would not be
disappointed. I made my way to the back of the room and sat in one of the empty spots—even though there were ten minutes left before the start of the seminar, the room was almost full. In front of me were two paper plates, a plastic knife, two wine glasses and a list of the eight cheeses that would be served.
Almost on the six o’clock dot, Gurdal, owner of Formaggio Kitchen (a specialty cheese store located in Cambridge, South End and Manhattan), began the two-hour seminar. Before jumping into anything, he asked: “Are there any FDA-related people in this room?” He jokingly said that if so, they should leave, playing on the fact that many cheeses at his store are imported daily from Europe.
After some talk about how to buy cheese and the basics of cheesemaking, Gurdal introduced the first cheese: Mothais-sur-Feuille, a goat’s milk cheese from France. And so one of the most delicious meals of my life began.
Disregarding the strawberry-rose jam and toasted baguette that was passed around, I decided to dig straight into the cheese. Gurdal advised to try the center of the slice, the middle and finally the rind, so that is what I did. He said each part tastes
different, and it does. The bite from the center was buttery and flavorful; as I made my way towards the rind, the taste got slightly bitter and the texture firmer. The whole slice was mouthwatering—it was my favorite cheese of the night—but the center was the best.
The next three cheeses (another goat’s milk one and two sheep’s milk) ranked at the bottom of my list, but not by a lot. Needless to say, the least enticing of the cheeses sits well above any cheese I could buy at Shaw’s.
The fifth cheese, Fontal Fontegidia, was a cow’s milk cheese, and my second pick. This time I fell in love with the rind. Fontina cheeses are usually on the softer side, and this one was no exception. Its flavor was on the subtler side of a strong flavor.
I tried three more succulent cheeses before the last, the Stichelton. Gurdal explained that Stichelton is just another name for Stilton, a British cheese made with raw milk. It is also a cow’s milk cheese, but far from anything I have tried before. It was crumbly but creamy and very, very smelly; so good.
For more information about seminars held this semester, visit Boston University’s Metropolitan College website.