I LOVE fennel. I find it unique, healthy, interesting, & a great accompaniment to my cooking. I had some ground fennel which I kept smelling. It was enticing. One thought led to another, as frequently happens here. Thoughts trend to generally turn towards cheese for almost everything here too. So then, how would a fennel cheese taste? Our own cheese. Hard cheese? Soft, fresh cheese? Ideas sometimes come faster than others. It was chevre wrapping day, so, Voila! The experiment was underway.
|Gothberg Farms Chèvre-Fennel Experimentals
Flavor blends were imagined, and half-chevres were ‘innoculated’ with the chosen combinations. They were wrapped like the rest of the cheeses and kept overnight for flavor blending. Today Ginny, our new cheesemaker apprentice, and I set about evaluating each one. Such a tough job, but someone has to do it.
Here are our raw notes with our initial evaluations:
Fennel (alone) Earthy, anise, fresh, delicate. Great as a stand-alone. Pair with fresh pears, champagne, Sauvignon Blanc, or Pear Brandy.
Fennel with White Pepper Needed more fennel, maybe in a 2:1 ratio w/ the pepper. Taste definitely finishes “pepper”. Nice, on the delicate side, pleasant lingering pepper flavor.
Fennel with Chives Nicely balanced, still lets cheese flavor come through. Chive gives savory notes to sweetness of the fennel. Nice texture. After taste is great, seems like Fall.
*Winner* Would be great with salad, pasta, pizza, baguette, or on a plain bagel.
Fennel with Nettle Just ‘ok’, especially after chive being so good. Not the best texture. Will not repeat this one.
Fennel with Chive & Parsley Versatile taste but the parsley ‘toned down’ the chive too much. OK, but not a favorite.
Fennel with Cilantro Earthy, prominent, fennel rounds it out, more of a flavor statement than the chive. Finish lingers nicely, lets cheese come through. Would pair nicely with our Cinco de Mayo Gouda.
Fennel with Garden Herb (which is a blend of parsley, chive, & lovage) Tastes like a Bite of Summer. The heart of Summer. Evokes warm sun rays feeling. Will definitely repeat.
Fennel with Calendula Petals Used freshly dried petals. Would have worked much better if set on chevre overnight to soften a bit. Pleasant, mild, with a slight bitter taste at the end, though not at all unpleasant. Just feels healthy!
Fennel with Chive and Calendula Petals Again, soften petals on cheese first. As tasty as it is beautiful! The fennel almost hides, then subtly says “Fine Finish!”. All the flavors come together at the end. *Winner* Would pair nicely with our goats’ milk Caerphilly.
Fennel with Cracked Pepper Way better than the White Pepper. Needs smaller mesh cracked pepper so it doesn’t over-power. Overall quite good.
So there you have it. A tiny glimpse into how we determine new and wonderful cheese offerings.