Brillat Savarin with a layer of truffle

An extra-creamy French raw milk cow’s cheese, with a layer of fresh truffles running through its centre. I bought this from the truffle stall Tartufaia Truffles.

Brillat Savarin alone is a tasty cheese; rich and creamy, subtley mushroomy, and incredibly indulgent. So how much better (and oinkier!) can the added-truffle version be?

Once I nearly blubbed into my dinner in a very posh restaurant, because my truffle-based dish tasted so good. It would have been a shame; it was a perfectly-seasoned dish and did not need my salty tears. But that’s how much I like truffles. I like to think that I”ve been very patient, waiting until now to try this cheese, but actually, it’s mostly because this little cheese is not always available. Truffles are seasonal and so is the cheese.

Anyway! The cheese! We have a quarter of a round, with a fuzzy white rind and a rich creamy interior that’s liquid towards the rind, and more solid in the middle. A line of dark fungal goodness bisects the wedge.

The rind tastes slightly vegetal, and juicy; sweet and fruity. Under the rind the cheese is liquid cream, with just a hint of mushrooms and the slight tang of yoghurt or buttermilk. In the centre – truffles! There are slices of the fungus itself – little thin slivers of chewy joy – but the rich flavour has also infused its way out into the cheese, and so the cheese is richly scented with the savoury mushroomyness, and rich earthy taste of the truffle.  The cheese is delicious, the truffles are delicious, the cheese and truffles together are delicious, too. Brillat-Savarin, for all its creamy indulgence, is a mild tasting cheese, and doesn’t overwhelm the truffle’s subtle flavour. There’s a delight in the way that the mushroom tones of the cheese mingle with with those of the truffle. I love this! My cheese-eating chum does too – at any rate, he fights me for his fair share of it. I’d have cheerfully eaten it all, and more, myself.

Pecorino Pepato

A hard Italian sheep’s cheese, dotted with peppercorns. Bought from a mystery stall.

This cheese is fissured and crumbly, a very pale cream in colour – almost white – and scattered with black peppercorns.

It’s got a texture not unlike pressed ricotta; both crumbly and chewy all at once, with a tiny hint of squeak. It tastes salty and peppery. Peppercorns are liberally scattered through the cheese, but their taste has infused out; even the corn-free bits have a peppery bite. The peppercorns themselves have been mellowed by their time in the cheese. Their flavour, while still intense, is not alarming. They’re not as crunchy as peppercorns eaten straight from the jar, but they’re great fun to bite into. The cheese itself is spicy – obviously – and also salty, sweet and juicy. It would be a tasty cheese even without the pepper, I think, but the spicy addition is delicious.

Cheese-eating chum says that this feels like a meaty cheese to him; we wonder whether this is partly because it tastes a bit like pepper-sauce, which is most often found atop a steak.