Gentlemen sulla tavola

‘A silence fell across the table… They all looked at each other cautiously. As they were all rather short of breath by this time’*

Oh the taleggio! Its sweet, pungent, sweaty music heralding the arrival of the cheese course, overpowering from afar the cacophony of finer, more subtle, rich and sweet scents, filling the palate with anticipation, fleshing out the nose as one comes closer in proximity. The wise Hafod from Wales standing proud, a beacon of rich yellow, marbled through with the faint white outlines of curds cheddared together. Left to stand in a foreign land, sulla tavola, he spikes the air around himself with a slightly tainted anger, lingering from the confinement of his journey. Skin drying to the touch, a hint of perspiration releases a desirable grassy-onion meatyness, underpinned by a gentle ruminating acidity.

The true gentleman of the board, the last of his kind that made the journey south, paling into comparison even the venerable lord of the Alps – Castelmagno d’alpeggio -. The crumbly, dry paste carrying the memory of the mountain pastures, floral, acidic, chalky, elegant; meets with the old, sweaty-sweet, damp-brick laden exterior, draped in mustiness and carrying the scars of the cheese mites who eagerly bore their way in during the cellar ageing; essential characters in the story of the cheese. Tuscan Royalty from the south leans against the lord, La Riserva del Fondatore, a Tuscan pecorino, dry, lactic, aged, umami, the sweaty-sweet-saltiness of the milk of sheep grazed on the Maremma coastal pastures, spectacular.

Jack Martin in the shoes of the cheese-maker

Accompanying the Hafod abroad, Stitchelton, the fabled hero of the British blue cheese world, this one aged in Italy by the Giolito family, sags with overladen readiness, moist, sweet, bitter, evocative, unforgettable.

And Oh! and on the prose of robiola… – di Roccaverano

*Émile Zola eulogizing about about the performance of a French cheeseboard, from ‘ The Belly of Paris’

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