Here's a thought: What if you never had to approach a cheese counter again with that blank stare, grasping for words in an effort to describe that one cheese you had the other day? It was what, "kinda creamy, but not too runny, and maybe with a pinkish rind, and I don't know... it was just really, really good... but I can't remember the name." Sound familiar?
We've all been there. So now, consider this remedy.
Get yourself a cheese journal.
They exist, these journals designated solely to recording cheese tasting notes. If you can find one, great, but frankly it's just as easy to make your own. Begin one in a plain notebook or on your phone, it doesn't matter. Just start. It's one of the best ways to become more comfortable at a cheese counter. The more you remember— and re-remember— the smarter consumer you will be, with more points of reference from which to increase your cheese know-how.
Wine professionals keep journals all the time. Doing so serves as an exercise not only to recall what you've had, but also to flex your descriptor and palatal muscles. What does this cheese really taste like? What kinds of flavors remain, even after you've swallowed? Cheese journaling—like other kinds of more conventional journaling—is a way to be more introspective and thoughtful about your actions.
A cheese journal should include a few categories: Name, origin, producer (if known), milk type, style of cheese, age of cheese, and whether the cheese is raw or pasteurized. Include where you purchased the cheese, the date (so as to help you remember the occasion), where you ultimately enjoyed it, and with what: any beverage that made the cheese stand out is valuable information, as is any other accompaniment that made the cheese shine. Finally, include flavor and aroma profiles, along with adjectives to describe the cheese's texture and moisture content.
Being a disciplined documenter of your trials in cheese will make you a more educated cheese person. You may start to pick up on patterns that can inform your future cheese purchases, which will no doubt lead to greater ultimate cheese bliss.
Find it → Formaticum Cheese Journal is available at BKLYN LARDER for $12.00.
(Image credits: BKLYN LARDER)