Friday, September 20, 2013

Taleggio (from Sainsbury's)

I was in the big Sainsburys on Clapham high street looking for important household goods (elderflower cordial and silver polish) and wandered over to the cheese isle. It turns out that even supermarket cheeses have a strange gravitational effect over me – let’s call it professional curiosity.

I was actually pretty surprised to find an intriguingly diverse display of European cheeses in the “Taste the Difference” range. Readers of this blog will know that I have previously advised against buying cheese from supermarkets but something about the Taleggio called to me. It was a cheese that I enjoyed selling in the shop in France and often would bring a hunk home with me. I think as well, that this was the first time that I had seen the cheese on sale in the UK.

Soft centred and pale - clearly more liquid just under the rind

Taleggio is an northern Italian cow’s milk cheese, named after the valley in Lombardy of the same name. It’s notable for its square shape and wrinkled terracotta rind; its pale centre starts almost chalky but with ageing softens and turns almost liquid under the rind. The rind, when really pushed in age darkens, even taking on a brown/black colour in some areas.

The taste is somewhere between mild and strong depending on whether you eat the rind, it’s kind of confusing on the palate. The rich creaminess of the centre is cut through by the bitterness that the rind imparts, leaving the mouth salivating and eager for more. When aged, the rind turns quite granular, almost sandy and for many, will be left on the side of the plate, although once grilled, becomes brilliantly crispy – ideal for cheese on toast and pizzas.

Rind was quite pale, showing relatively little development

So how does the Sainsbury’s Taleggio fare?
Actually it’s surprisingly good. I was concerned about how long it had been cut, pre-wrapped and left in the fridge – looking at the range of sell by dates they had, I’m guessing potentially 2 or 3 weeks – but it didn’t taste too flat.

The cheese was ripe enough (it’s a good idea to pick the one nearest the sell-by date if there really isn’t any other way to pick between bits) but the rind really hadn’t developed and was rather anaemic looking. That carried through into the flavour which I found to be a bit lacking, I missed some of the more complex hay and meat notes that I was used to with our product in France.

Crucially, did it make a good cheese on toast? Again, definitely passable and made a nice change from cheddar.

The Taleggio performed respectably under the grill
All things considered, I was pleasantly surprised, certainly a step in the right direction and a sensible starting point for those without access to cheese shops and markets.

No comments:

Post a Comment