Day 1: Overview and first tasting
This post is part of a series from my two week-long training courses with the Academie Opus Caseus. You can find the rest of these posts by searching for the tag academie-opus-caseus.
Monday morning we started with a typical French light breakfast of viennoiseries (croissant, pain au chocolat, pain aux raisins). By 8:30, we were in a van on our way to the Mons global headquarters.
Arriving at the Mons operations centre, the first thing we noticed was the construction. As we would later learn, the growth of both Mons’ business and its expertise are leading to an exciting change in the size and organization of their operation. We would take a tour later that day through the various caves, storage, and shipping and receiving rooms.
The morning’s session was a broad overview of the course and the world of cheese. We got down to business pretty quickly though as we reviewed a methodology for the sensory analysis of cheese. The framework really spoke to me. As an operations guy, albeit from a different industry, I really appreciate systematic approaches to difficult problems. We talked about how we use all five senses to evaluate cheese. I was especially fascinated by the interaction of smells and tastes. So often I have thought that I have “tasted” something only to realize that it was the product of retro-nasal smell, i.e., smell that comes from the back of my mouth through my nasal passage.
We put our new framework to work immediately with our first of the five tastings, one per day of seven different cheeses. It would be fair to say that most of us were found it challenging to apply what we had learned. But each of us was able to have his or her tastes validated on a number of different cheeses, which was satisfying for everyone.
We returned to the hotel for another pleasant dinner, this time of spaghetti bolognaise, salad, and—believe it or not—more cheese!
Day 2: Setup at the original Mons store in Roanne.