In Milwaukee, a rare tasting event, as a 40-year Cheddar, discovered in the back of a cooler, is unveiled. What a way to celebrate American Cheese Month:
MILWAUKEE — Adventuresome cheese tasters sampled 40-year-old cheddar Saturday, never batting an eye that it had been on this earth longer than some of them.
And they loved it.
“The 40-year-old was probably the highlight of my life in a while,” said Ashley Mikkelson, 28, who drove with her husband, Ryan, 32, from Minneapolis for the tasting at Wisconsin Cheese Mart in Milwaukee.
The store described the vintage cheese on its website as “the oldest cheese commercially available in the world.” Its rarity meant the tasting was limited and sold out — only about 15 people were able to attend.
The Mikkelsons described the taste as smooth.
“It was creamy, it was sharp, it was real sharp,” Ryan Mikkelson said.
Neither had any qualms about eating something older than them.
“Not even the slightest,” said Ashley Mikkelson, who joked that she loved cheese so much she would marry it if she could.
The 40-year-old cheddar, as well as samples of a 28-year-old cheddar, were made by Ed Zahn, the former owner of Z’s Cheese Shoppe in Oconto. He was at Saturday’s tasting.
Zahn, 73, said he found the cheese in his walk-in cooler this spring when he was closing his store, stored in several wooden boxes and hidden from plain sight. He blamed it on a lack of space and employees who didn’t notice its age.
“Truthfully it’s a little embarrassing. We weren’t watching our inventory,” he said with a laugh.
Read the full story here.
It’s finally Fall, and Little Big Apple, a collaborative project between Murray’s Cheese, Champlain Valley Creamery, and Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery, captures the autumnal spirit perfectly. Inspired by the classic Banon’s of France, which are traditionally goat’s crottins, wrapped in chestnut leaves macerated and in eau de vie, this version brings together cow’s milk triple-créme, apple leaves and apple liqueur.
Cheesemaker Carlton Yoder starts with his Organic Champlain Triple, a soft-ripened triple créme bloomy rind (Silver Medal Winner, 2007 American Cheese Society Conference). Murray’s then takes the cheese, and wraps it in hand-picked apple leaves which have been macerated in Warwick Valley’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Apple Liqueur. These little packages are then aged in Murray’s Caves, allowing the Liqueur to infuse the cheese with the a complex blend of flavors and aromas. The buttery, mushroomy flavors of the the Triple blend with the sweetness of apple, with vegetal notes from the leaves and a slightly fermented, yeasty, earthy essence, especially at the rind, with a bit of bite from the alcohol. The paste is oozing at the creamline, but firmer and creamy in the center.
This cheese charms visually as well, presented as it is in a compact package, carefully wrapped in the leaves and tied shut with a bow of grass. Perfect as a centerpiece for a cheese plate.
Wisconsin Cheese Mart to offer 28-Year Old Cheddar
Twenty pounds of 28-year-old Cheddar – presumed to be the oldest commercial Cheddar ever verified and offered for sale in America — will hit the market on Oct. 6 at an official Block Cutting Party at the Wisconsin Cheese Mart in Milwaukee.
The 28-year-old Cheddar will be priced at $6 per ounce - yes, ounce - and will only be sold at the store’s Cheese Bar. Additional super-aged Cheddars, at 20-plus years old, will be offered for sale in one-half pound wedges at the Cheese Mart shop for $60 per pound.
Wisconsin Cheese Mart owner Ken McNulty says all of the aged Cheddars are in excellent shape, and feature substantial crystallization on the outside of each block. The cheeses are sourced from two different Wisconsin cheese factories. Each block features an exact date of production and letter of verification from the cheesemaker.
Noord Hollander, a Dutch 4-year aged Gouda, is wonderful in all ways one expects from an aged Gouda: a firm but still creamy golden amber paste, lightly eyed and speckled with “flavor crystals” (actually formed by the amino acid Tyrosine, which over time breaks down the fats and proteins, which crystallize into deposits throughout the paste). In flavor it is sweet and butterscotchy with toasted hazelnut and popcorn notes and even hints of bourbon and spice.
Purchased at Malt & Mold.
Limited Edition Extra Aged Goat Cheese, from Sartori. The well-established (and fairly large) cheese company from Wisconsin is probably best known for Sarvecchio Parmesan, their American version of Parmaggiano Reggiano. While it would be well nigh impossible to hold a candle to the real thing, Sarvecchio does a good job and is one of the better American alternatives to the “King of Cheeses”. Sartori occupies an interesting middle ground, between the large, commercial cheese makers for which Wisconsin is historically known, and the new generation of small-scale, artisan cheese makers.
They have a fairly large assortment of cheeses, including a “Limited Edition” line. The Extra Aged Goat is one of the items offered under this banner. Aged goat cheeses generally are well known for their bite and gamey flavor, so it is interesting to see how mild this cheese actually is. The bone-white paste is wet and somewhat crumbly, and in flavor and texture it brings to mind a good feta crossed with an aged goat cheddar, citrusy, sweet, briny and with a lipase, meaty earthiness to it, but without any fiery, goaty punch.
The mold progression of an ash covered goat cheese, over the course of a week. This is the first time I’ve tried an ash rind. Active charcoal is mixed with salt and sprinkled onto the surface of the cheese (I’ll have to work on getting a more even coat next time). The ash lowers the acidity of the surface of the cheese and makes it more hospitable to the molds, in this case a mix of 5 parts Penicillium Candidum to 1 part Geotrichum Candidum. It’s also supposed to add complexity to the flavor of the cheese; I’ll be interested to see what the difference is when I cut into this piece.
Goat Tomme from Twig Farm. a natural rinded semi-hard cheese, aged 80 days. Mild, sweet, grassy, tangy, with a creamy paste.
One of the American Cheese Month Passport cheeses of the day from Saxelby Cheesemongers.
Boernkaas 7 Year Farmers Gouda. This ultra-aged Gouda is pure brine, butterscotch, caramel and flavor-packed crystals that pop in your mouth as you bite through the hard, crystalline paste. There’s hardly a trace of moisture left in this cheese, and it looks like a cheese that’s, um, been sitting on a shelf for seven years, with a color like old leather and a weatherbeaten surface.
Purchased at Dean & Deluca.
Zingerman’s Detroit Street Brick, a nice little aged chevre loaded with cracked peppery goodness. According to Zingerman’s, “This cheese is named after—but tastes nothing like—the cobblestone bricks that pave Detroit Street in front of the deli”. This is a brick you won’t mind getting hit in the mouth with.
Purchased at Beecher’s.
Manchester, from Consider Bardwell, an aged goat’s milk Tomme. Earthy, fruity, nutty, with a subtle sharpness, perfect with fruit, and also works well on a grilled cheese sandwich with mashed avocado, I can say from first-hand experience. Purchased at Stinkys.