Adventures in Eating & Cooking

Drexel Cheese-Tasting

Yesterday I attended a Cheese Tasting and Panel Discussion in the Academic Bistro of Drexel University. I had never been to a cheese tasting before and decided as a budding food-blogger I should sharpen those taste buds to the increasingly diverse world of cheese. However, this tasting was focused on promoting the flavors of local Pennsylvanian cheese, so I only got to experience a small slice of the giant cheese world. Nonetheless, it was pretty exciting as PA is famous for its quality milk, and thus dairy products.

Aside from learning that cream cheese and cheesecake originated in PA, I got to sample some local cheeses, in particular those made by Mrs. Sue Miller, a cheese maker from the Birchrunville Farm in Chester county. She shared her story of being a part of a traditional family-run dairy farm, and how she turned to cheese-making when competing with giant industrialized farms. Mrs. Miller hand-makes all her cheeses, and even created some interesting inventions, which I will be talking about here.

First off, I tried the Lesher, which was made at the Keswick Creamery with milk from Jersey cows. (I’m pretty sure this was made by another local farm.) If I remember correctly, this cheese was quite firm and rubbery, but had a nice milky cheddary flavor when bitten into. Seeing as I don’t have much experience eating cheese, I could only say this is better than supermarket cheese. It tasted very fresh, but aside from that it was not particularly astounding. What I did like about it was that it had a mild sharp flavor with a decent amount of creaminess.

Lesher cheese

Lesher cheese from Keswick Creamery

I remember I really liked the Alpine cheese made by Mrs. Miller. I don’t remember much about this one except that it felt nice and creamy in my mouth, with a moderate amount of pungency.

Her “fat cat” cheese also left quite an impression on me. It was richer than most of the other cheeses, but not to a point of heaviness that felt disgusting. It had an interesting flavor of sharp cheese dampened by its creaminess, and hinted with a slight grassiness that Mrs. Miller said captured the “flavor of her cows and farm”.

"Fat Cat" made by Sue Miller on her farm in

"Fat Cat" made by Sue Miller on her Birchrunville Farm

I did not take a picture of the Goat Sharp cheese made by Mrs. Miller’s friends on Shellbark Farms because I didn’t like it. Part of this is because I dislike the odd mountainy scent of goats (although some people love this flavor, I do not). However, I did hear another guy at the tasting who claimed that this cheese was amazing and that he had never tasted anything like it. I supposed its texture was quite fine, resembling cream cheese. I just could not stand the smell…

I really liked the mini-corn muffins served on the side. They were sweet, soft, and slightly crunchy on the outside. It was a nice way of clearing my taste buds, so I could distinguish between all the cheeses.

Mini-Corn Muffins!

Mini-Corn Muffins!

The Royer Mountain cheese was served on small pieces of baguette with Asian pear. This was quite a nice combination: the savory crunchy bread with cool refreshing pear topped with a cube of flavorful cheese. I thought the best part was the baguette, which although on the harder side, had a nice crisp burst of flavor.

Royer Mountain Cheese on Baguette & Asian Pear

Royer Mountain Cheese on Baguette & Asian Pear

The last cheese I tried was feta from Keswick Creamery, served on a slice of pita with eggplant. I was not particularly impressed by this feta because it lacked the extremely crumbly sharp-sour flavor that makes feta, feta. It’s this taste that makes feta my favorite cheese. However, the feta from Keswick tasted rather mild, creamy, and un-feta-like.

Feta with Eggplant on Pita

Feta with Eggplant on Pita

The beverages I had were served by the butlers at the Bistro’s bar. There was sparkling apple cider and sparkling pear cider. I love sparkling cider, so that was fun! The sparkling pear cider was made from pear extract, orange juice, apple juice, cranberries, and a shot of vodka apparently. I did not taste the vodka, nor the cranberries although there were visible red beads of fruit in the drink. I thought the sparkling pear was creative and unique-tasting, but not very delicious. I tasted very little pear in the drink, which was rather disappointing. The orange citrusy flavor was slightly stronger than everything else, which tasted like a motley of cold watery pear. Honestly, I preferred the sparkling apple.

Sparkling Pear Cider

Sparkling Pear Cider

Overall my first cheese-tasting was a pretty fun experience. The bistro was classy, and I was exposed to the variety of cheeses. I would definitely attend another one, although chocolate-tastings are still the best. NYC CHOCOLATE SHOW POSTS WILL BE UP AFTER HALLOWEEN!!

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