That being said, Baltimore's cheese offerings are growing. After I went through the bulk of my cheese haul from Pittsburgh, I stepped into the new Mount Vernon Marketplace to visit Cultured, which offers a fairly extensive and diverse selection—lots of Italian, French, and Spanish cheeses, made from cow, goat, ewe, and buffalo milk—as well as cured meats and cocktails. I picked up a modest block of Sottocenere ($6.82), a semi-firm raw cow's milk cheese dusted with an ash rind made with a mix of spices including cinnamon, licorice, and coriander. Those elements don't jump forward so much as they bring out the flavor of the cheese. Hailing from Northern Italy, where the tradition of preserving cheese in ash originated, Sottocenere is laced with delicate slivers of black truffle suspended in a sweet, fudgy paste. It smells like an expensive cigar burning in the fingers of an oiled-up guido, unexpectedly enticing.