I guess I have one more thing to say about judging… most of the cheese was good to excellent. But we had one cheese that was so bafflingly bad that we had to call over other judges just to be sure how awful it was.
It was a mild style of cheese, so when I first put it into my mouth I didn’t expect a blast of flavor. However I didn’t expect to taste an absence of flavor either… literally nothing but texture for one beat, two beats… then, after being lulled into a moment of false security… BAM! incredible, horrid bitterness. It was like a IED made by vegan guerillas. My judging partner and I could have been entered in the synchronized spitting competition in the Olympics trying to get this cheese out of our mouths. The only comparison I can think of for this kind of nasty is getting skunked. Not only was it bad, but it wouldn’t go away easily. We had to take a break to cleanse our pallets: bread, pineapple, melons, milky tea. I needed my tongue for the rest of the day; we had another 25 cheeses to taste.
Another judge who works as a consultant with that style of cheese hovered nervously, hoping he wasn’t associated with it. (He wasn’t, as it turns out.) Mysteriously, all the other cheeses by the same company (I don’t know which company, but the coding system enables judges to know the entries originated from the same place) were pretty good. Judging has its risks and pains, but I have never had a stealth attack from a fresh cheese before. Careful out there folks.