A Cheese Tasting with Maria Chiancola from Le Petit Gourmet, Newport

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Maria Chiancola

Nelson Choi–The person who first discovered cheese must have been an adventurer and a gourmand at the same time. Who would put a pungent white lump that used to be milk into their mouth? And moreover, enjoy the exotic taste of cheese?Well, thanks to him, cheese became a necessity of our culinary life. The majority of people nowadays eat cheese on a daily basis; however, obvious drawbacks exist when it comes to mass-producing cheese, or really anything: a drop in quality.

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For instance, Kraft’s neon-orange ‘cheese’ in its mac n’ cheese is barely real cheese. That’s milk powder with chemicals in it. Tired of the fake cheese the market offers us, gourmands of these days are literally ‘hungry’ for quality cheese, which can be found at Le Petit Gourmet in Newport, RI. The cheese in this store has most bizzare names: Manchester, Truffle Tremor, Midnight Moon, etc. What would a Midnight Moon taste like? Well, it tastes like nothing else. ‘Ineffable’ would be the word I would use to explain the taste. Please, if you have time, buy some Midnight Moon at Le Petit Gourmet along with some plain crouton, honey, and red wine (though we could not do that part…) First, enjoy the cheese on its own. After you know what it tastes like, put it on the crouton, drizzle with honey, then savor it with wine. There’s the nirvana of profound taste of cheese you’re falling into.


Chelsey Ayin
–Fortunately, I am a lover of cheese. So, when we were given all sorts of cheeses to try I was super excited. My favorite cheese was undoubtedly the one infused with truffle oil, because it had a such a strong yet sharp taste to it. After this cheese tasting, my appreciation has grown for good quality, and unique cheeses.

 

Christine Gu–Cheese, as the one of the epitomes of the western culinary world, has a great variety. Cheese lovers categorize cheeses either by moisture content or the kind of milk it is made of. It is nearly impossible to try every kind of cheese here due to all the go
vernmental regulations.

The spring term culinary arts club events had a perfect start with cheese tasting. I really had a glimpse of all the categories: sheep’s milk, cow’s milk/soft, semi-hard, hard… Maria taught us about the appropriate process of tasting cheese: start from the mild ones and end up with the stronger ones, which was similar to tasting other things. When tasting sushi, it works the best to start from white fish to red fish, and finally to seasoned sushi like eel sushi. Or else our taste buds will be messed up.

I always thought of cheese that it has to appear with something else, but Maria’s cheese changed my mind. My favorite one shocked me: Midnight Moon, which is a goat milk cheese with an ivory color. In my opinion, the complex flavors and textures will be ruined if it is cooked. Mid
night Moon cheese tasted nutty and a little bit earthy, but the best part was its texture. There were small crystals in it. Those were the protein crystals formed naturally from its aging. I do not remember a single moment that I was surprised by a piece of cheese, but this time I was.


Kevin Jiang
–After Lucy and I made a late appearance to the cheese tasting in the Art Building, two charming ladies, Ms. Maria, a former English professor who currently owns and runs a wine and cheese store in Newport, and Mrs. Bonin, my English teacher as well as the advisor of the culinary club, welcomed us warmly. Such classy activity deserved elegant participants. We couldn’t wait to be part of it.

Two circular plates of cheeses, delicately divided into nine kinds and carefully arranged on leaves, lay on a rectangular table surrounded by a pack of students from various countries. (Yes, “cheeses” is grammatically correct.) The power of food, especially the cheeses’,
brought us together. Their yellowish-white color, milky smell and creamy aftertaste immediately captured our attention and pleased our sensations. Meanwhile, Ms. Maria’s words of cheeses resembled a lighthearted melody, blending with the taste into our hearts.

To be honest, Cheese had never meant anything to me except as a symbol of American Fast Food due to my Chinese background. However, I had the chance to enjoy cheese purely with my friends and appreciate the “high-class” experience with artists this time, which amazed me and allowed me a brand new understanding of it. Food is always the best language to connect different cultures.–Kevin Jiang

Lucy Ferry–If you go into my family’s fridge at home, you will always find it stocked with cheese. Since I was young, I was always nibbling on any sort of Parmesan I could get my hands onto. I hated the soft, “stinky” cheese my Dad used to feast on after dinner (my brother and I joked it smelt like his feet).
During the cheese tasting, I was particularly drawn to the three goat cheeses Maria had us sample. All distinctly varied in creaminess, texture, and taste (the one with truffles was my favorite). The bleu cheese and honey was a new combination that I will be sure to share with my family in the future. I had also never known that the order in which one tastes cheese is very important. The buildup of flavor from the mild brie to the strong bleu cheese substantially made the tasting experience all the more delicious.

Rosie Randolph–This past Tuesday we tried some great cheese. Cow’s milk, goat’s milk,pasteurized, raw, European, American; the variety was incredible and the flavors even better. I never thought about putting honey and cheese together, or that ground truffles could add such a great twist. My personal favorite was a goat milk gouda from Vermont. It was slightly sweet, but still sharp like cheddar, and went great with the honeycomb.Until now I was never much of a fancy cheese person; when my mom brought home brie for our crackers I’d opt for peanut butter instead. But now I’d say that my tastes have changed, and I’ll definitely be more adventurous from now on.

Sam Choi–I always liked cheese from the beginning. In fact, our family regularly eats cheese in our house. I also always order cheese before dessert in a French restaurant. The cheese tasting we had at Portsmouth Abbey allowed me to taste a variety of cheeses that I have never had before. To be frank, the first brie was a bit too weak for me compared to the pungent Camembert that I eat at home. However, all the other cheeses were fabulous. I loved the fact that each cheese had a distinct identification from each other. The cheese made from sheep milk had a very sheepish odor. In addition, the truffle infused cheese had a lingering truffle flavor as well. It was also my first time tasting blue cheese made from cow milk. It was much more mild than goat blue cheese. This opportunity allowed me to taste new flavors of cheese that I have never had before, and I wish we could do this again next time (with wine perhaps?).
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