One of my many foodie dreams is to attend a Cheese Class in Sofitel Manila’s “Cheese Room”. Why? The hotel imports One-million peso worth of Cheese every month!!! Of all hotel properties in the country, I pretty much think they are the only one capable enough to give a diverse selection of cheeses for a proper cheese class.
The class was conducted by no other than Mr. Eric Norbert, the hotel’s Food and Beverage Manager. According to him, there maybe 1000 more different varieties of cheese in France, only 100 more or so are protected by the Appellation d’origine Contrôlée (AOC) system. Some cheese we tried in the class were part of this, meaning the milk origin, process, and fermentation, all followed the proper standard.
For cheese tasting, as with anything else, we started from the lightest to the strongest flavored ones. In this case, we had Goat Cheeses first, and paired it with a Sauvignon Blanc Blend Wine. We had four kinds of Goat Cheeses, first is the cylindrical one, Sainte-Maure de Tourine, unpasteurized cheese made from full fat milk, and rolled in wood ash. Selles sur Cher, a type of goat cheese where in the ash covered mold has a stronger flavor than the cheese inside. Crottin de Chavignol, produced from raw milk of alpine goats, and can be eaten at various stages of maturity. Lastly, Valencay, unpasteurized goat cheese, sort of pyramid in shape, and blue-gray rind darkened from charcoal dusting.
Next we had White Rind Cheeses, which we paired with a Pinot Noir, but can also be paired with a white like what we had previously. First we had a Brie, a soft cow’s milk cheese with a slght grayish tinge under a rind of white mold. Camembert, a moist, soft, creamy, surface-ripened cow’s milk cheese. Coulommiers, made from cow’s milk, and is usually in the shape of a disc with white, bloomy, edible rind. Lastly, Neufchatel, similar to Camembert but with a dry, white, edible rind, but with a saltier and sharper taste.
Next we had the Hard Cheeses, and this one we paired it specifically with Pinot Noir. First we had Gruyere, a sweet but slightly salty cheese, with flavor profile that varies widely with age. Manchego, a firm and compact cheese, with a buttery texture. Mimolette, a semi hard cow;s milk cheese similar to Edam. Lastly, Pecorino, 100% sheep’s milk, that have a smooth, hard rind.
Second to the last batch of cheeses is the Washed Rind Cheese, which we paired with a Moscato. First we had a Saint-Paulin, made with pasteurized milk, and has a washed rind. Murol, pasteurized, semi-soft, cow’s milk cheese but with an aroma less pungent than other cheeses. Mariolles, usually has a square shape with brick-red, smooth, washed and sticky rind. Lastly, Pont-L’eveque, uncooked, unpressed cow’s milk cheese, square in shape.
Last batch of cheese, is my fave, Bleu Cheese, which we also paired with a Moscato. First was a Bleu Cheese from Malagos Farm. Next was a Gorganzola, made from unskimmed cow’s milk. Lastly, Shropshire Bleu, a type of bleu cheese made from pasteurized cow’s milk and uses vegetable rennet.
After three-hours in the Cheese Room, I personally have a better appreciation for cheeses in general. For inquiries about this class, and reservations, please call +63 2 573 5555 or email H6308-FB12@sofitel.com.
Nathaniel C. Uy