Sea Change: For The English Major
By now, it’s no secret that I teach writing and feed cheese scraps to starving English majors. Once in a while, I even teach Shakespeare. Of course, I’m partial to The Tempest because it involves a goat herder.
When I received a sample box of Sea Change from Mystic Cheese in Connecticut, I swooned extra hard when I read the quote on the back of the package. Cheesemaker Brian Civitello has a literary line of cheeses (remember Melville?), and this one is inspired by The Tempest.
Tasting Notes: The size of a sand dollar, Sea Change is sweetly funky, with a rind that is eyelid-thin. Your teeth sink through it — it gives like spiderweb — and the center is plump, silky. Think scallops. Think cheese of the sea. Literally, it’s eerie to taste and smell milk that seems so close to ocean life.
Pairings: Because this cheese is so delicate, yet slightly funky, I leaned on fresh, crisp pairings for counter balance — radishes, cucumber, and ground cherries (they have wing-like husks and taste like a yellow tomato crossed with a cherry).
Sea Change also likes jam — it can swing sweet or savory. For fun, my intern and I tried adding a sprinkle of charnushka, also called “nigella” seeds. Slightly oniony in taste, they add a touch of texture and color. I like how they look a bit like caviar.
Beer/Wine: Cheesemaker Brian Civitello sent me a list of pairings he loves to eat with Sea Change that included steak, scallops, foraged hickory nuts, plus hard cider or saison. He also recommends sours! I imagine that a yeasty Champagne would be smashing, too, but honestly, I just want to get down with a kombucha cockail here. Funk likes funk, no two ways about it. Add funk and fizz? Even better.
Visiting Mystic Cheese: If you’re curious to visit an innovative cheesemaker, put Mystic Cheese on your bucket list. Cheesemaker and entrepreneur Brian Civitello is branching into “experiential cheese tourism” with a public ripening cave in downtown Mystic, Conn. There, school children and cheese nerds alike will enjoy viewing stations and interactive iPads to learn about cheese science. Yes! Brian tells me there will also be a baker and butcher on the premises, to create a market environment — because of course there will be tastings and cheese appreciation workshops.