EXCITEMENTS next week will include not only cheeses 98 – 100, but also the CHEESY LOVER 100 CHEESES AWARDS, where I’ll be choosing my favourites of the 100 so far tried, and combining them together on a supercheeseboard. And then eating them!

Blu di capra

A blue raw milk (I think) goats cheese from Lombardi, Italy, bought from Gastronomica.

The pale, almost grey paste of this cheese is smatterd and scored with a green mould. The rind’s a bloomy mix of white and biscuity colours, with occasional patches of the same mould. When I cut into the cheese, it crumbles slightly.

I’m surprised by how chewy this cheese is; even the melty liquid centre of the wedge gives some resistance underneath my teeth. The edges of the cheese crumble, and a sticky liquid fills the mould-lined piercing veins – when I try it alone, it prickles my mouth. In sensible portions, though, this cheese is sweet and mellow, tasting of caramel-toffee, with a gentle blueness and a rich, dense, indulgent-feeling texture. Its goaty origins are also in evidence, with a touch of that distinctive farmyard tang and a undertone of herbs. The goaty bite and mellow blue tastes are very much distinct from each other, yet get on surprisingly well together; I think it’s the over-arching sweet milky and toffee flavours pulling them together. The rind is hard and chewy, with a hint of bubblegum.

Scamorza affumicata

A smoked cow’s milk cheese from Italy, also bought from Gastronomica

For ages I’ve been curious about these little bundles of smokiness, but smoked cheeses do always feel like a bit of a risk; what if they taste of nothing but smoke and are a huge disappointment? I bravened up, and we tried this after gorging ourselves on the blue cheese above.

These little cows-milk mozzarella-alikes are tied around their bellies with ribbon, making them pearshaped, before being hung up and smoked to a soft brown hue on the outside. When I cut into ours, it’s a pale yellow inside, with an elasticy texture.

More like a skin than a rind, the thin outer layer comes away easily, and tastes incredibly, densely smoky, strong and lingering.  Isolate the paler, slightly crumbly innards, though, and it’s much lighter and subtle, with a sweet, cusp-of-sourness milky taste, rich and creamy, and just hint of splintery, woody smokiness.

We keep back half of out little cheese bulb to try on a pizza the next evening. Melted and mingled with mozzarella, ricotta and pecorino, it’s absolutely superb.