Hummingbird is a delicate disc of Robiola-style cheese from Doe Run Dairy in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. Kristian Holbrook is the head cheesemaker at Doe Run Farm —his wife Haesel Charlesworth, manages the fruit and vegetable farming — but Doe Run is the passion project of Urban Outfitter’s founder Dick Haynes, who long had a desire to get into farming and saw an opportunity when the historic Doe Run farm came up for sale just as he was pulling back from the $2 Billion clothing business, first started as a single clothing shop in the 70’s, catering to Pittsburgh’s countercultural crowd. Doe Run is a sustainable, organic farm, with the cows, sheep and goats rotationally grazed on the 700 acres.
The creamery opened just a couple years ago, but the farm is much more than just a cheesemaking operation, with vegetables, horticultural gardens, massive greenhouses growing ornamental flowers, and more. You can read a detailed profile of Haynes and Doe Run at MainlineToday.com. Kristian has a culinary background, and is graduate of the New England Culinary Institute and a former chef at Green Seasons, outside of Pittsburgh.
Like many Robiolas, the Hummingbird is a mixed-milk cheese, made with Jersey cow and East Friesian ewe’s milk. Inspired by the likes of Robiola Bosina and Robiola Due Latte, the wheels are thin, only 3/4” high perhaps, with an elongated oval shape, akin to an oversized bay leaf. The rind is paper thin and pillowy to the touch, pinkish-orange with a white veil of mold and occasional tiny patches of blue. As soon as you cut it open, the ivory paste begins to ooze out of the thin rind, the interior molten at room temperature. The aroma is lightly fungal, with notes of wet hay.
In flavor the Hummingbird is buttery, unctuous and herbaceous, milky-sweet and with a nice salt balance, with subtle but distinct barnyard and lanolin notes on the finish.
I’m a big fan of Robiola’s, so discovering this American-made version is a pleasant surprise. (I probably shouldn’t share this, but you can see my own experiments with a Robiola recipe, which were…not exactly successful, so I appreciate it even more when it’s well-done, as with the Hummingbird).
Via RealMilk.com, Arkansas has now legalized on-farm sales of raw cow and goat milk:
Beginning in July 2013, Arkansas farms will be allowed to sell up to 500 gallons of unpasteurized cow milk per month, and up to 500 gallons of unpasteurized goat milk per month, directly to consumers. It will still be illegal to sell unpasteurized milk at farmers markets or other retail outlets. Under the new law, farmers will be required to post a sign on the farm and label unpasteurized products with a standardized label noting that the milk is unpasteurized. Neither the farm nor the cows will be inspected by the state, and the buyer assumes all liability should any health problems arise from consuming the raw milk.
This new law is not only exciting for the consumers who rely on raw milk’s nutrients for health benefits, but also for the farmers who see economic opportunity in taking advantage of the emerging raw milk market – raw milk often sells for $6-$8 per gallon. As the market continues to evolve and more farms begin to offer unpasteurized products, it will be interesting to see where costs stabilize and how farms brand themselves to stand out from the herd.
Read the full story.
(Photo ©2013 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)
This gooey, fluffy ball is the Saint Nuage, a cow’s milk triple-creme from acclaimed French affineur Hervé Mons. “Nuage” actually means “cloud” in french, so this is the “Saint Cloud”, an appropriate name when you experience the texture.
The St. Nuage is a cow’s milk triple-creme, made by a Burgundy cheesemaker, and affinaged in the famous Mons tunnels before being sold exclusively through Whole Foods. I’m not sure if this is actually the first one, but I don’t recall seeing Mons cheeses with custom packaging and the Hervé Mons logo prominently displayed prior to this, at least on this side of the pond. I’ll certainly keep my eyes peeled for others.
When warmed to room temperature, the St. Nuage is almost unmanageably soft and must be moved with care lest the skin tear open in your hands. The rind, butter-yellow with a thin white mold layer, rippled and puckered, opens to reveal an incredibly gooey, delicate interior, the texture almost whipped in consistency. If you’ve ever baked a cake, the texture is kind of like the room temperature butter after sixty seconds of creaming, it’s that soft and fluffy; pretty impressive for an aged cheese — albeit briefly aged from what I can tell.
The flavor is mild but intensely buttery and rich, milky, a little tangy, with hints of mushroom, a nice salt balance, the paste melting in your mouth. Terms like “decadent” tend to be abused in the cheese world (including, admittedly, by yours truly), but this is a cheese that truly deserves that descriptor. I usually prefer my cheese neat, no bread or crackers, but this is a cheese that is tailor-made for slathering on a crusty baguette or with fruit. This is not a challenging or complex cheese, but it definitely puts the “creme” in triple creme.
Belgium has been woefully underrepresented in the American cheese case for a long time, but that’s changing now; in NYC, cheesemongers such as Formaggio Essex, Bedford Cheese Shop and Artisanal in particular seem to be been making an effort to carry more cheeses from smaller and farmstead Belgian producers, judging from their cases. I even purchased a raw milk, Camembert-style, under-60-day Belgian cheese at one of the counters in the city recently, although I’m not going to name where I found it (although it should be said that they were surprisingly cavalier in advertising the cheese’s black-market status).
One of the cheeses for which Belgium is best known are “Trappist” style, cow’s milk cheeses washed in, Belgian beer; legend has it that the monks of the Trappist monasteries developed these cheeses as a full-flavored substitute for the days on which they were required to abstain from consuming meat. Le Charmoix is another cheese in this family, from La Fermiere de Méan in Maffe, in the Wallonia region of Belgium (I previously reviewed the Cabricharme, also from the same cheesemaker, whose recipe is essentially a goats-milk version of the Le Charmoix).
Made with raw cow’s milk in the Spring and early summer, the wheels are lightly pressed and then aged for four to six weeks, getting a regular beer brine wash. The final result is a a pungent, soft wheel, the golden, lightly sticky-gritty rind giving off a hoppy, sour aroma. The paste is ivory-colored and smooth-textured, the wheel settling and bulging as it warms. The flavor is mild in the young Charmoix, but this wedge had definitely had a chance to develop a beautiful stink, with a yeasty, fruity, meaty flavor and notes of onions, hardboiled egg, hay and barnyard.
Purchased at Formaggio Essex.
Colston Bassett, maker of one of the most highly regarded British blues, celebrates it’s 100th anniversary this week:
A Nottinghamshire village is celebrating 100 years since it began producing Stilton cheese. Stilton cheese can only be made in five dairies in the East Midlands. Colston Bassett has one of the five dairies, located in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire, licensed to produce Blue Stilton.
The village is celebrating the anniversary with a series of events including a special church service. The Reverend Claire Le Marchcant-Connell, said the dairy started in 1913 to help troubled farmers.
Mrs Le Marchcant-Connell, who is also a farmer, said: “It gave an outlet for their milk and meant they could improve the value of the product. “Thank God that we’ve kept going and we’re still producing good cheese.”
Billy Kevan, dairy manager and chairman of the Stilton Cheese Makers Association, said: “Hygiene is completely different now than in 1913. “Farmers would have come in their muddy boots with a milk churn and poured it in the cheese vat, probably smoking a pipe with cow muck on their legs after milking the cows.”
Stilton cheese gained a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) from the EU in 1996.
The photo above comes from the Colston Bassett Stilton page on the Murray’s site, where they note that Colston Bassett’s version of Stilton is unique for using traditional calf rennet, unlike the other producers.
This brick-red, hybrid-rinded beauty is Saintalain, also known as Le Drean. Made by Laiterie Garmy, and now affinaged by the famed Rodolphe Le Meunier, the name, Le Drean, comes from a play on the name of Andrew, the cheesemaker’s grandfather (the scrambling of syllables resulted in Drean); the other name, Saintalain, seems to be a play on Alain Garmy, who currently runs things.
Ok, the double naming thing is a little confusing, but bear with me, as the cheese itself makes up for it in flavor. The Saintalain comes from Pont-astier in the Auvergne region of France. The Auvergne is well-known for another sainted cheese, the St. Nectaire, one of France’s signature wheels, and the Saintalain is a variation on the traditional St. Nectaire recipe. Most St Nectaire producers get their milk from larger cooperatives these days, drawing the milk from around the region, but the Laiterie Garmy is a farmstead operation, supplying all the milk for the makes on their own. In addition, the rind is lightly washed, resulting in the appearance, which is of a natural-rinded cheese with a dusty red exterior. At first I was convinced the exterior was a result of annatto coloring, due to the deep, even red color, but apparently it’s just the b.linens and other cultures resulting from a light brine wash.
The hard rind is a brick red color with a stony, textured exterior, with occasional patches of bright white mold scattered around the mold. The interior, ivory-colored, is semi-firm, lightly eyed, oozing slightly as it warms but retaining a springy, slightly marshmallowy texture. In flavor it is tangy, fruity and a little beat meaty, mild wth a distinctly musty, earthy quality, and a bit of wet hay and barnyard from the washing. It’s similar to a St Nectaire but with a little more complexity.
Purchased at Murray’s Cheese.
Lincolnshire Poacher, from Lincolnshire Poacher Cheese, is a shapeshifter — flavor-shifter might be a more accurate description — of a cheese. Fashioned for the most part in the style of a traditional British wheel, it nonetheless has distinct alpine qualities up front before finishing as a solid cheddar.
Despite it’s traditional-sounding name and provenance, the Poacher is actually one of the new generation of British cheeses. Produced by brothers Simon and Tim Jones on their farm at Ulceby Grange in the Lincolnshire region of England, cheesemaking began in the early 90’s, using the organic raw milk of their herd of East Friesian cows. Welsh cheesemaker Dougal Campbell, the man behind Tyn Gryg cheese, got them started, before Richard Tagg came on board as head cheesemaker. Made in 44lb wheels and based on a modified Somerset Cheddar recipe and is natural-rinded rather than being cloth-bound like most British cheddars.
The natural rind on the Poacher is gray-brown and dusty with a stony surface, flaking off in spots. The paste is a yellow-golden color, towards amber near the rind, firm, smooth and a bit crumbly, eyeless but with occasional fissures and cracks. The aroma is more towards the alpine side of the spectrum, but the flavor is where the complexity really kicks in. The cheese starts out more like an alpine, buttery, sweet, nutty and fruity with distinct pineapple notes. As the flavor develops in your mouth, however, the cheddary character kicks in, sharp, salty and grassy with a tingle on the tongue and finishing strong. This cheese sneaks up on you, in a great way, dare I say like a poacher stalking his prey through the woods (sorry, couldn’t resist).
Purchased at Murray’s.
Slicing open the Bloomy Rind, double-creme couronne experiment. Salt levels need tweaking, there’s a bit of a brassica, maybe cabbagey flavor and aroma. I’m happy with the texture of the paste though and the rind, while perhaps not as thin as I’d like is decent. Needs work but a good first step. This is the first time I’ve experimented with raising the fat levels in a cheese, in this case to the 60-65% range, roughly (I’m estimating as I don’t have the means to test fat content). If you’re wondering, triple-creme is 75% or more (Formaggio Kitchen has a great post explaining the definitions of double- and triple creme). I don’t currently have a source for raw heavy cream, so the cream that was added was pasteurized.
Tobasi, from Cricket Creek Farm in Williamstown, MA, is a Taleggio-style raw cow’s milk washed rind cheese made in the heart of the rolling Berkshire hills. In 2002 Dick and Jude Sabot, hearing that the Cricket Creek Farm — the largest dairy farm in the Williamstown area — was up for sale, decided to purchase it, to protect it from encroaching development and preserve it as a working farm. A visit to Shelburne Farms in Vermont led to the decision to continue dairying and develop a cheesemaking program as well, while also converting the herd to pastured and grass-fed and moving the farm towards sustainable methods. Sadly, Dick Sabot passed away unexpectedly in 2005, but Jude and their son, Topher, have continued to develop the farm and expand the cheese offerings. Their Maggie’s Round, an Italian-Toma-inspired cheese, won First Place at the 2011 American Cheese Society Competition in Montreal, and they have expanded the makes to include a bloomy-rind, Berkshire Bloom and the Tobasi (as well as fresh cheeses).
Made from raw Jersey cow’s milk and aged for around four months, the Tobasi has the traditional square format and washed amber-red exterior of a Taleggio. This wheel had a thicker rind and an especially dramatic pattern of deep ridges and grooves from the aging racks and was lightly sticky and grainy to the touch. The yellow-ivory paste was semi-soft but stable, oozing lightly as it warmed, with a smooth, buttery texture. The aroma is pungent and gamey, but as with Taleggio the bark is worse than it’s bite, and the flavor is creamy, meaty and salty with mushroom, wet hay and distinctly fruity notes.
Purchased at Formaggio Essex.
This month we’re celebrating wrinkles with a pairing photo contest and giveaway of Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery’s Bonne Bouche. This wrinkled goat cheese is made in the style of an aged Loire Valley goat cheese. We’ll give you three pairings of aged French goat cheeses and a food or drink and we want to to update the pairing using Bonne Bouche and whatever makes you happiest. For example, is your favorite Bonne Bouche sidekick fig jam? Do you get a little crazy and pair it with dark chocolate? What about beer or wine or even a gourmet soda? Whatever it is, we want to know.
HOW TO ENTER
- Email a JPG photo and description of your pairing to email@example.com
- Use the subject line OLD IS NEW
- Be specific: Don’t just say, “a dark beer” instead, tell us which specific beer you’re pairing it with
- Include your name and any social media you have (so we can give you a shoutout!)
PICK A WINNER
- Go to ourTumblr, Pinterest, or Facebook page
- Look for photos tagged #OldIsNew
- Comment, repint, or like a photo to vote for it
We’ll count your favorites and reward the top 4 with some delicious Bonne Bouche and a Wrinkles are Sexy button. Want more? Guess what, we have a grand prize too. One lucky winner will receive:
- One of each Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery’s aged cheeses
- A cooler bag with the VT Butter & Cheese logo for toting your favorite cheeses to a picnic or the office
- A beautiful cheese board
- A Winkles are Sexy button
- A cookbook
Need some inspiration to get started? We’ll give you the old, you give us the new! Here’s a video with the makers of Bonne Bouche: