By Genevieve Jethri
I will confess, I don’t have a very refined palate when it comes to cheese. Most of the cooking and eating I’ve done has been done on the road–and while that’s great for learning about fresh ingredients, it leaves very little time for something as complex and involved as cheesemaking.
Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t love the stuff, so I jumped at the chance to sample some of the fine stock available at the Drunken Druid Dairy & Winery, located only a few short miles outside of Silversun, along the Gleaming Road.
While the Drunken Druid has a wide variety of cheeses on offer, I wanted to focus on some of my personal favorites from my trip to their beautiful establishment.
5. Black Bear Brie
I’ve always felt that bear cheese was underrated. It packs a serious punch, to be sure–even a mild bear cheese, such as that from a sun bear, rivals some the sharpest cheeses around. However, the interesting thing about this particular cheese is that, as the name implies, it’s a soft, gooey, spreadable affair (a far cry from the usual hard slab of dairy you’d expect). The tang of the cheese is the perfect complement to flavorless trail rations. Adventurers, take note! If you need a blast of flavor on a long trek, Black Bear Brie is the way to perk up your bland-but-filling stoneloaf. And not to worry–the bears are calmed with druidic magic during the milking process before being returned to the wild, so the whole operation is animal-friendly!
4. The Forbidden Cheese
This cheese is extruded from a strange creature known as Grevigg, the Cave-Thing. [Editor’s Note: the description of Grevigg’s physical form has been removed from this article for the reader’s safety.] Upon eating a small cube of this dark purple dairy product, I immediately blacked out, When I awoke, I had written the following in my notebook:
i have been here since before TThe sun fell on your kind, and i will remain long afTTer TThe end comes for you. and iTT will come–iTT will come in fire and meTTal, iTT will come much sooner TThan you TThink. i have seen it, from my place beneaTTh. i have whispered of iTT to all TThose who parTTake of my gifTT. do you see iTT now, TToo? do you yeTT hear the screams? TThe shriek of sTTeel againsTT bone, TThe crackle of your flesh as iTT burns? you will. and even when the memory of you and your kind has been gone a TThousand cenTTuries, i will sTTill be here, beneaTTh. i will be here TTo see what comes afTTer. iTT is my loTT, my duTTy, my curse.
The cheese itself was crumbly, with a surprising fruitiness that delighted the tongue.
3. “Flaming Dragon” Feta
This is the only cheese I’ve ever eaten that required an alchemical aperitif. Before trying a bite, I was given a shot of a special potion that coats the mouth to protect the diner from burns. You see, this cheese is actually served on fire! Now, that in itself isn’t too terribly shocking, but this isn’t just any flame–it’s a special kind of magical heat, fueled by peppers from the elemental plane of fire. These ifrit peppers, as they’re called, are suffused throughout the cheese, given it a unique red-veined appearance as well as a perpetual flaming aura. Let me tell you, while the pre-cheese potion protected me from any physical damage, it did nothing to mitigate the intense spice of the cheese itself! I don’t think I’ve ever eaten anything this hot. I ate this cheese a week ago and my tongue is still burning!
2. Sharp Cheddar
You can’t often beat the classics. Drunken Druid Dairy has a much bigger selection than some other local cheese-makers, but that doesn’t mean they skimp on traditional cheeses like cheddar. Their basic sharp cheddar is exemplary, perfectly balancing tang and creaminess in the ultimate sandwich-and-cracker cheese.
1. Gargoyle Gouda
As the saying goes, you can’t get blood from a stone–but apparently you can get milk! I’m not entirely sure how the innovators at Drunken Druid managed to craft this unique cheese (it’s a trade secret), but it offers a flavor you won’t forget. Imagine a finely-aged hunk of gouda–creamy, delicious perfection. That’s where this cheese starts, but it adds a fascinating depth of flavor via an almost musky, mushroom-like umami. It’s subtle, but excellent, and the more you eat, the better this undercurrent melds with the base gouda taste. Despite its somewhat off-putting slate grey appearance, this is one of the finest cheeses I’ve ever tasted. Of course, it’s also rather hard to lay hands on; the Dairy only has access to one gargoyle, meaning their output is quite limited, and when you factor in the aging process… well, let’s just say I was lucky they happened to have a sample on hand!
The Drunken Druid Dairy provided a truly excellent selection of cheeses for me to try, and I deeply appreciate them inviting me out. Next time you’re traveling the Gleaming Road, be sure to stop in and give them a try–and don’t forget to ask about wine pairings, too!