Today’s topic is smoked cheeses. A fun fact about my household is that neither my wife nor I can so much as look at smoked cheese without compulsively saying “Is cheese. Smokey cheese.” This stems from an incident long before we were married involving a bitchy Albertson’s checker and her caseophile bagger:
(To paint the full mental picture, this bagger had a voice, accent and overall demeanor that could best be described as “Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite”)
Bitch Checker: You can’t use this coupon.
Me: Why not?
Bitch Checker: This coupon is for cheese. You didn’t buy cheese.
Me: Yes, I did buy cheese.
Bagger: She did ::rummages through bags, produces braid of smoked mozzarella::see?
Bitch Checker: That’s not cheese.
Me: It’s mozzarella. Mozzarella is cheese.
Bitch Checker: (incredulous) That’s cheese?
Bagger: Is cheese. Smokey cheese.
Another fun fact is that I don’t really like smoked cheeses all that much. But I know I am in the minority here and there are some very interesting-looking smoked cheeses on the shelves these days, so let’s give it a shot!
Grafton Village Maple Smoked Cheddar
OK, you know what? Screw this cheese. It’s not bad or anything, but this cheese tastes like maple in the same way “applewood smoked bacon” tastes like apples, and by that I mean: this cheese does not taste like maple. Maybe I should have read more closely and I suppose I should have known better, but actually, can we stop manipulatively labeling smoked food like this? Can we really taste the difference between the particulate remnants of different types of wood? Just call it “smoked cheddar” and be done with it. Stop pandering to our subconscious pancake brains. This cheese tastes like cheddar, but smoked. Next.
Yancey’s Fancy Smoked Gouda with Bacon
Ah Yancey, we meet again. For those of you not familiar, Yancey’s Fancy is the Kettle Chips of cheese. I mean look at these flavors (and yes, it is now my life’s mission to find the maple cheddar, the maple bacon cheddar, and the strawberry chardonnay cheddar. And all the rest of the cheddars). As I alluded to before, I am really not a fan of smoked gouda, from concept to flavor. It’s basically ruining a perfectly good gouda. You take a nice, fresh cheese that ages to produce rich nutty undertones and satisfying little salt crystals of awesomeness and then you turn it into something that tastes like barbecued cream cheese with the texture of Velveeta’s backwoods cousin. No thanks. I thought the bacon could help out here, but it was not meant to be. BUT, if you are like 90% of the world’s population and love smoked gouda, you will probably love this cheese because it is really smoked gouda-ey, extra creamy, and it has bacon.
I also should mention that unlike most of the ill-fated purchases on this blog, neither of these cheeses were really a waste of money because my wife thinks they are both terrific.
The Ez Factor:
Maple Smoked Cheddar: Ezra can’t read, so the lucky bastard doesn’t know what it feels like to suffer the unfulfilled promise of maple. He ate this cheese, but didn’t push for more.
Yancey’s Fancy Smoked Gouda with Bacon: After noticing that Ezra wasn’t overtly jazzed about his first taste of smoked cheddar, I did a side-by-side test: 4 pieces of maple smoked cheddar, 4 pieces of Yancey’s smoked gouda. He ate all of the cheddar, tasted the gouda, and then WALKED AWAY leaving three untouched pieces of smoked gouda cheese with bacon in it – this is almost completely unheard of. Then Danjumbo came over and promptly ate them, which is also almost completely unheard of (I feel like I should explain that in stark contrast to Ezra, the only human foods Danjumbo aggressively tries to eat are salami and doughnuts). I’m not sure what it means that my wife’s cat has almost the exact same taste in cheese as me while my cat has almost the exact same taste in cheese as my wife, but I’ll get back to you when I figure it out.