Cheese Plates For Dummies
The plate of cheese and olives above looks nice enough, doesn't it?
For those wondering, it contains hunks of Roncal, Manchego, Mahón, Iberico and Cabra Murcia al Vino -- all Spanish cheeses, some hard and some soft. It's a pretty decent variety of cheese, each representing a different region of the country.
The Roncal is a hard sheep's milk cheese that comes from northern Spain, while the Manchego is also a hard sheep's milk cheese, but comes from more southernly parts of the country in La Mancha.
The Mahón is a soft cow's milk cheese that comes from Minorca, the island next to the island I mistakenly pronounced "Muh-lore-ka" for years until someone corrected me. (Which took until college; that wasn't embarrassing or anything.)
The Iberico is similar to the Manchego but is made from a mixture of milks, and the Cabra is the famous "drunken" goat's milk cheese that comes from Murcia, in southeastern Spain.
But there's something a little different about this cheese plate (other than the fact that those are Greek olives, not Spanish olives -- hush up).
The cheese plate was, in fact, hastily assembled from this pre-packaged tray of cheeses (seen below) that I bought from Spec's a few nights ago.
Worried that I was going to have last-minute company, I ran into the downtown Spec's -- the temple of all things holy -- on the hunt for something good and fast. The cheese aisle can be overwhelming when your mind is full of thoughts like "Did I take the trash out this morning?" and "Do you think anyone will notice that I bought one-ply toilet paper by mistake?"
I spotted this tray in the refrigerated section closest to the deli's cheese counter. I'm normally not an advocate of buying pre-packaged food in bulk like this, preferring to pick and choose my foods carefully. But this was no time to dilly-dally.
It turns out that I didn't have to worry about company coming over that night after all, and was able to enjoy the cheese in a more leisurely setting last night. That's right: enjoy. Even though it was all packaged together in a loose tray and -- as a result -- some of the flavors were more muted, it was still a good cheese plate. The Mahón and drunken goat's cheese were by far the best of the five, with only the Manchego notably lacking in flavor.
For $17, it can be viewed as either a really expensive way to enjoy cheese for one, as I did, or a low-cost way to create a pleasant selection of five Spanish cheese at once and maybe even look like you know what you're doing. Just make sure you hide the packaging from your company.
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