Back in November, when I was in San Francisco, I dropped by Cowgirl Creamery and tried their Wagon Wheel cheese. What I didn’t know at the time is that Cowgirl Creamery’s most popular cheese is actually MT TAM. So, it came as a surprise when I found several wheels of MT TAM at Whole Foods Market, in Connecticut, of all places. In fact, MT TAM is so popular that Cowgirl Creamery refers to it as its signature cheese.
Fair warning, this is a tangent
Honestly, this “hint of mushrooms” crap needs to stop. Consider that only when talking about dairy products “a hint of mushrooms” is ever really considered a “good thing.”
A: “Yeah, this apartment is nice, but there is a hint of mushrooms.”
A: “How did your dental appointment go?”
B: “Good, but the doctor said there was a hint of mushrooms.”
I guess the fact that you’re tasting or smelling mushrooms is indication that you are near, around, and/or eating cheese; or, perhaps actual mushrooms as well. However, you can’t assume that it is a “good thing” with all dairy products, I suppose. Yogurt, for instance: once you start detecting that hint of mushrooms, I’m sorry but your yogurt is now cheese. Regardless, this “hint of mushrooms” is supposedly a noteworthy characteristic of MT TAM. I have a really hard time picking up that flavor, generally; but, I did detect some of it. While we’re talking about some of the characteristics of MT TAM, we should probably also say that it is made with vegetarian microbial rennet, so it’s safe for you non-meat eaters and vegans. Also, it’s coated with white mold, which as you might remember, is typical of a bloomy rind cheese. Final thought: considering that this cheese is covered in white mold it should be common-sense that it tastes like a mushroom—it basically is a mushroom.
MT TAM is actually named for Mt. Tamalpais (see picture). Isn’t it pretty?
You might be wondering if I meant to spell MT TAM in all capitals, but—correct me if I’m wrong— it is meant to be spelled in all capitals. I did tweet at Cowgirl Creamery a while ago to confirm and never got a response. I’m sure it wasn’t personal.
Some thoughts from Cowgirl Creamery on this subject:
This cheese is best paired with a crisp, citrusy white wine, e.g. Pinot Grigio. But I’m pretty sure when I ate it the wrong way with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon it still tasted delicious. With triplecremes, because all of the flavors are there—goat, sheep, and cow’s milk—depending on how you pair wine or beer with it, different flavors will be enhanced. It is difficult to really say that reds will always enhance goat’s milk flavor, because that is not always true. My rule of thumb for pairing wines is, if it tastes bad, you’re doing it wrong. I think I just heard half of you grunt, in disapproval. The reality of gourmet food is that it all comes down to personal taste.
For the non-wine-obsessed, if you eat bread—I understand some people don’t—try eating this cheese on a nice warm, crispy baguette. MT TAM goes really well with fruit conserves, and jams, so if you want to make a tasty, yet high-calorie snack, add a teaspoon of some fruity jam or marmalade.
I really liked this cheese; and, I think it is a great starting place to branch out into cheese exploration, for those of you who are looking for something new with as minimal risk as possible. That is to say, if you buy this for a party, everyone is sure to eat it, and likely enjoy it.