Sunday, September 4, 2011

Mini Food Review: Flying Fish Cafes' Artisanal Cheese Plate

Given my fondness for cheese of all nature, it's kinda surprising this was my first Disney World cheese plate. But in my quest to always try new things, I decided to give one a try. I am so very glad I did. 

Where to about presentation. Simply plated, this cheese plate let's its flavor do the talking. The 5 cheeses arranged to the left and the 4 accompaniments to the right, deserve your attention for a minute. The texture of the individual cheeses, the natural beauty of the honeycomb and even the cool touch of the raisins which are still attached to the vine come on the plate somewhat understated, but individually make their own statement. 

Ok enough about the visual, let's talk about the personalities of each cheese and their partners. The plate is served with a side of bread crisps for spreading the softer cheeses if you like, as well as the regular bread they bring to the table, which you can also enjoy with your cheese plate. Along with the bread, a selection of 4 accompaniments are also served as well. Raisins on the vine: fairly straightforward, but possibly a bit too dried. I would have preferred them a bit more plump, I tend to think it provides a more pleasing texture. A fresh bit of honeycomb: very mild in flavor but sweet. A Spanish fig-almond torta: think the filling in a Fig Newton except overly dry and with almonds. I wasn't a fan of this, even though I love figs, because of the dryness and the almond ruined the texture for me. And lastly a fresh peach, citrus and sweet Bermuda onion compote Agrodolce: peaches, citrus rind & onions cooked with vinegar & sugar which is where the Agrodolce comes from. Agrodolce means sour (agro) & sweet (dolce) in Italian. Behind the fresh honeycomb I enjoyed this a lot. It had a lovely pungent yet sweet contrast which made it stand up very well against the stronger cheeses.

And the stars of the plate-the cheese. In order ascending from mild to strong:

Cowgirl Creamery MT.Tam: Texturally somewhere between a brie and a light cream cheese, this was one of my favorites. A bit more sharp than a brie as well as a twinge on the pungent side this cheese was perfect spread on the bread or crisps with a bit of the honeycomb. Thin slivers of apple would have been a wonderful addition. 

Reypenaer V.S.O.P Gouda: Gouda is one of my favorite cheeses and this one is write your mama good! It's a bit different from the Goudas you know. This Gouda is aged longer (2 years) and that aging produces a harder texture than the slightly creamy but firm texture you might be used to. It also takes the flavor more away from the medium soft cheeses like cheddar and closes in on that of a nice Parmesan. But is saying that it is not so much you would mistake it for a Parmesan. It's much sharper and refined.

Cypress Grove Lamb Chopper: This sheeps' milk cheese is semi-hard and somewhat reminded me texturally of Romano. Not in flavor, only texture. It's flavor was buttery and full in the front of your mouth. It had a flavor that lingered, but was somewhat unidentifiable. It was out-shined by the other cheeses on the plate, but it was still a nice addition. 

Bijou: Another fantastic cheese, this goats' milk cheese was superbly creamy. The texture was really lovely. Flavor wise it was mild up front, but pungent on the back. This may sound weird, but it had a very distinct aroma once inside your mouth, of a barn-the hay and grasses that is lol. Now I know you're sitting there going "ewwww", and I would have too, before I actually had this cheese. But what I am picking up is the natural diet of the goats as well as the fact that different cheeses will produce different aromas, depending on what animal it comes from. It also comes from the fairly quick turn around in making the cheese. While it may not be for everyone, I really enjoyed it and do suggest you at least give it a try. Even if it's to see if you pick up the same things I do. 

King Island Dairy Roaring Forties Blue: Blue cheese is hit or miss for me. Danish blues can be too "slap you around stinky" for me, but this Australian Blue was really a nice surprise. This Blue was sharp, but it was also nutty and wonderfully salty. On par with the crumbly, veiny texture of most blues, taste was the big attention getter with this cheese. I think if you like Blues, you will find this cheese different, but in a good way, and the same can be said if you're not a Blue fan. 

Sorry this was a very long "mini" review, but I wanted to give all the components their due, as they each really earned it. I would recommend this cheese plate without hesitation, with one condition-must love cheese.

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