Cutting the Curd - Episode 123 - Peter Kindel's Cheese Path
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Mont Vully cheese, made by Fromagerie Schafer in Cressier in the Fribourg Canton of Switzerland. Historically, the cheese plant had produced Emmentaler, but when Ewald Schafer took over in 1993, he felt that Emmentaler should only be made in Emmental, and set out instead to create a new cheese to honor their unique terroir.
From that came Mont Vully — named for the mountain on which it is made and upon which the grapes for the wine wash is grown — which proved so popular that they were soon able to stop production of Emmentaler altogether and focus on this new cheese.
Mont Vully is in the vein of the classic Swiss alpines, made with organic milk from the grass-fed cows of Müller & Sahli Bio-Milch. During aging it is washed several times a week with Pinot Noir from neighboring vineyards, giving it a distinct red rind. The paste is semi-firm, smooth and creamy, strong in aroma thanks to the washing but milder in flavor, meaty, grassy and with a nice nuttiness and fruity notes.
On the board: May Hill, a new bloomy rind from Hawthorne Valley Farm. Made with pasteurized, organic/biodynamic milk and microbial (non-vegetable) rennet (as are all the HVF cheeses). Best known for their Alpine style cheeses, made in an authentic Swiss-style copper vat, they have in the past few years been expanding their cheese list, including the addition of bloomy rinds like May Hill and Bianca (included in this post from December).
The rind, pale golden and mottled with the p.candidum white mold, contains a creamy, fudgy paste, tending towards denseness at the center but oozing and buttery at the cream line just beneath the rind. The flavor is salty with a mushroomy richness and notes of hay up front, with a subtle hint of a barnyard flavor lingering on the palette at the end.
Purchased at the Hawthorne Valley Farm Store. I’m not sure if it’s available yet at the HVF greenmarket stands, hopefully if not already, it will be soon.
Update: HVF cheese maker Peter Kindel let me know that the cheeses are in fact available at the Greenmarkets, and there is an 8oz mini version as well.
In their recent Dairy issue, Edible Manhattan has the heartbreaking story behind the sudden demise of Milk Thistle Farm, as seen through the lens of Milk Thistle’s once thriving — and delicious — relationship with Chef Christina Tosi and Momofuku Milk Bar:
Christina Tosi is still reeling. The normally high-spirited chef and co-owner of Momofuku Milk Bar, the sugary offshoot of David Chang’s mini-empire, has just gotten some very bad news: Farmer Dante Hesse, who owned a tiny organic dairy called Milk Thistle Farm in Columbia County, and whose milk Tosi regards as the single most important ingredient in her kitchen, is going out of business, the result of a quiet but crippling six-year battle with a seven-figure debt.
“We have such a close relationship with Dante and his family, we believed so much in them and just had so much love for their product,” Tosi said a few days after hearing the news. “I’m heartbroken.”
Milk Thistle’s sudden closure in late January came as a surprise to all—the dairy’s diehard shoppers at the Greenmarkets were stunned—but the news was particularly devastating for Tosi, who views Milk Thistle and Milk Bar as spiritual counterparts, two small, scrappy businesses that grew together and shared a fierce determination to write their own rules and build something without compromising…
…Up until Hesse turned off the spigot in late January, Tosi was going through 100 gallons a week of perhaps the most expensive milk on the East Coast—and says it was worth every penny. And maybe she was being modest, but Tosi really seemed sincere when she said the milk—an ingredient most cooks regard as a blank slate, an interchangeable commodity— was the reason her desserts taste so good.
As a dedicated consumer of Milk Thistle’s products (and my hometown, Philmont, also being just down the road from their farm), I was shocked by the news as well, learning of it when I went to my neighborhood farmer’s market with empty Thistle bottle in hand to exchange and was informed by the folks manning the Grazin’ Angus stand of the bad news. It is such a shame, their milk really was top-notch and their dedication to organic and biodynamic (the quote on the bottle, just above the USDA Organic stamp, is from Rudolph Steiner) farming methods evident. Here’s hoping Dante and his family decide to give dairy farming another try.
(The photo is of my remaining empty Milk Thistle bottle, good only for flowers now)
The Grazin Burger with Consider Bardwell’s Pawlett cheese: a delicious, locally sourced organic/biodynamic burger, at Grazin’ in Hudson, NY. They’ve gotten some media attention as the nation’s first “Animal Welfare Approved Restaurant”, and the food is pretty tasty as well. All ingredients are sourced from local suppliers, from the meat — which comes from the farm run by the owners of the diner, Grazin Acres — to the buns, which come from the Hawthorne Valley bakery, to the cheese, which comes from a variety of sources, including Hawthorne Valley and Consider Bardwell.
My one suggestion would be that they expand the menu a little. If a burger is what you’re after Grazin’ is just the ticket, but the menu beyond that is quite limited, just a few other items really. It would be nice to get a broader array of choices, and also maybe some steaks or other cuts of meat, as I know that we, and I suspect others, went there expecting more of a full diner menu.