Flavor is of the utmost importance when it comes to tasting cheese, as are texture and smell. What's the point of a cheese if it doesn't taste good, or doesn't lend a pleasant sensation as it skates across your tongue? Many cheese folks get lost in these traits, forgetting that there's a fourth sense that plays into the overall cheese experience: sight.
We eat with our eyes first. Seeing a food's color, shape, and design play a significant roll in the way we experience everything else about the dish. Cheese is no different. Some cheeses are downright beautiful in their aesthetic, going beyond tantalizing us with what we believe will taste good and sate our senses. They are visual works of art.
Visual drama is what first attracted me to Le Jeune Autize; it reminded me of a marble slab, with its black, cinematic vein of ash creeping through the lily-white flesh. Fashioned similarly to Morbier, only with goat's milk, Le Jeune Autize batted its eyelashes at me from across the room, its kohl eyeliner promising mystery behind those amazing contours.
I asked for a taste, and my first impressions were smooth and silky, with a nicely semi-firm body that gave easily under my bite. Oilier than most goat cheeses, Le Jeune Autize plays across the tongue joyfully without being overly capricious. There's a good taste of salt there, with a lightly funky layer that won't overpower those not into strong cheeses. The followup is decidedly sweet, and the rind has a pleasantly dusty, mushroomy flavor that smacks faintly of grass and fresh tobacco.
If you find this lovely lady in your local cheese shop, I highly recommend taking her for a stroll. And if they don't carry it, put in a request! I guarantee you won't regret a few minutes alone with this little beauty.
About the author: Stephanie Stiavetti is a writer and cookbook author in San Francisco. Stephanie's cookbook, Melt: the Art of Macaroni and Cheese, celebrates America's favorite dish by recreating it with small production, specialty cheeses. Her food blog, The Culinary Life, is a repository for all things comfort food related, from savory dinners to transcendental desserts.