The Cheese Corral #1: Triple Taste Test

Welcome back everyone to another inauguration of an ongoing procession of experiments. However, rather than find different uses for a single item as with my previous post, the objective for this series will be to test a selection of different cheeses for any given situation. So, with that said, it’s time to corral the cheeses and start the tasting!

If you’ve read yesterday’s post then you may have guessed that I had a lot of slow cooked porked left over. So today I thought I’d try that old classic, cheese on toast, but swapping the slices of bread for slices of some unfortunate pig’s leg. The cheeses under consideration for this initial taste test were the same three about which I’ve already written: cheddar (here represented by Wkye Farms’ Crunchy), parmigiano-reggiano and oveja al romero.

These choices just so happen to be from England, Italy and Spain, echoing a major football tournament underway this month. I’ve just realised that a French cheese would have added perfectly to this analogy given the opening matches but c’est la vie. Anyway, here are the three proud nations as they prepared for battle.

Clockwise from top left: Spain (oveja al romero); Italy (parmigiano); England (cheddar).
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Here we see the contestants at the end of their three-way encounter but which cheesy combatant came out the winner?

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Cheddar

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If there had to be a grizzly veteran for this type of competition, then this would be it. Nearly everyone reading this either knows or can imagine what the above picture tastes like. All I will add here is that the melted cheddar was soft and chewy, contrasting well with the semi-roasted pork. The English cheese also had a salty taste that was neither subtle nor overbearing.

Parmigiano-Reggiano/Parmesan

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As you can see, the Italian contender melted well, surprising for such a hard cheese. It melted so much that there was little feeling of it in the mouth, besides some added moisture. What wasn’t missing though was the always recognisable flavour with its hard edge cutting through everything else. The abundance of flavour and lack of texture made it seem like the pork had been marinated in a parmesan liquid rather than being layered with sliced solidity.

Oveja al Romero

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This was the dark horse of the match as it was the least familiar and I had little idea of how it would melt or taste after being grilled. Despite clearly softening and taking on a brown hue, the cheese slices held their original shape and appeared the most interesting of the three varieties on display. Because it hadn’t melted quite enough, the texture felt more akin to some secondary meat, perhaps a slice of ham or similar sandwich filling.

As for the flavour, it was far from pervasive in the mouth when biting the pork but once a chunk of the cheese was chewed it was immediately noticeable. At some point under the grill there was a transformation from the “raw,” typically cheesy flavour into something more smoky and aged. The cheese tasted almost like wisdom.

The Verdict

Just like two recent football games, Italy versus Spain and England versus France (see, I knew a French cheese would have been perfect here), the competition between these four three cheeses could easily be considered a deserved draw.

The crunchy cheddar was the best all-rounder, providing a noticeable texture and taste. The parmesan pork was full of flavour but lacked depth. The Spanish cheese al romero had the best flavour but could only be tasted separately from the meat.

Still, a winner has to be chosen here at the Corral. The cheddar wasn’t exciting enough to warrant the win and the parmigiano-reggiano tasted no different to a regular slice. So, by virtue of its miraculous transformation into a brand new taste sensation, the winner of Cheese Corral #1 is oveja al romero!

I hoped you enjoyed this little clash of the cheeses as there will certainly be more to come here at The Cheese Cellar.

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