Buffalo Blue, another cheese from swiss master Willi Schmid (see my previous posts about the Hölzige Geiss and the Jersey Blue). Schmid is an influential figure in the new wave of small-scale Swiss cheese making (Newlyswissed.com had a good profile of him, and Schmid recently held a talk and tasting at the new Bedford Cheese Shop location in Irving Place which I sadly couldn’t attend). Willi’s creamery is located in Lichensteig, in the Toggenburg valley of the Thur River, in the Swiss Canton of St. Gallen.
The Buffalo Blue is made from pasteurized Water Buffalo milk — much more common in Italian cheese making and a decided rarity in Switzerland, particularly in the German-speaking cantons which are famed first and foremost for their mastery of the thermophilic cow’s milk cheeses (aka Alpine cheeses).
As with the Jersey Blue, the yellow-ivory paste is shot through with thick, kelp-like strands of blue mold with occasional white-mold coated pockets dotting the landscape. This is a deceptivel mild cheese up front, sweeter and creamier even than the Jersey Blue, with a wonderful smokiness and caramel’y notes, but with a strong peppery blue cheese bite that comes roaring in at the end (and in the back of your mouth).
All in all another Schmid cheese to seek out. (Although I couldn’t help but wonder if Willi is aware of the associations that “Buffalo Blue” brings up in America: Try googling this cheese and see how many recipes you get for blue cheese dips for buffalo wings!)
Purchased at Bedford Cheese Shop, Irving Place location.
Hölzige Geiss, aka Wooden Goat, from cheese maker Willi Schmid, maker of the previously reviewed Jersey Blue and a somewhat legendary figure in the new wave of small-scale Swiss cheese making (Newlyswissed.com had a good profile of him, and Schmid recently held a talk and tasting at the new Bedford Cheese Shop location in Irving Place which I sadly couldn’t attend). Willi’s creamery is located in Lichensteig, in the Toggenburg valley of the Thur River, in the Swiss Canton of St. Gallen.
The Hölzige Geiss is a bark-wrapped wheel, similar to a Vacherin Mont d’Or (or Rush Creek Reserve, Jasper Hill’s Winnimere, or the many other Vacherin-inspired cheeses now dotting the landscape), in appearance if not in flavor. It is in some respects an unusual cheese; I’m not sure if this is always the case, but the bone white, lightly eyed paste is much firmer than one would expect from these style of cheeses and has a slightly spongy, even — as fellow urban cheese maker Jon Bonanno described it — marshmallow’y feel to it. this is not a girdled cheese that you would slice the top off of and eat with a spoon, although that being said, you might plow through the wheel just as quickly once you sample it.
In taste as well it’s hard to quantify: with a pungent washed-rind, sticky to the touch and aromatic, it is mild up front but with a sweet, tangy, complex flavor, with hints of nuts and grass, and with a distinctly arboreal flavor from the fir bark, especially at the rind, like standing in a pine grove with the smell of the pine tar wafting off the trees. There is a slight bitterness as well, almost like a vegetable rennet cheese but attributed in this case, I suspect, to the bark, as I’m pretty sure this is an animal-rennet cheese. There’s very little goatiness at all in this cheese. Like all of Schmid’s cheeses, a delicious, if slightly unusual, specimen.
You can see video of Willi Schmid at work in this segment from Swiss television (in Swiss German only unfortunately). At 3:35 you can see him girdling the Hölzige’s with bark.
Tonight at Bedford Cheese Shop in Manhattan, Willi Schmid, highly respected artisan Swiss cheese maker, will discuss his craft. (The photo above is from my previous post about “Jersey Blue”, one of his best known cheeses):
Willi Schmid has been coined a “A Hero of Swiss Cheese” and rightly so. He is a cheese maker from the Toggenburg Valley in Switzerland devoted to upholding the integrity of raw Swiss cheese making. In this class, we will focus on his cheese making technique. Schmid decides what cheese to make depending on the batch of milk he collects from his local herdsmen. Using his sense of smell and taste, he lets his “yellow thumb” guide him. Schmid’s approach to making cheese is similar to an artist’s approach to producing art. Just wait until you hear him talk about “cheese bug” philosophy. Class includes a tasting flight of a selection of his cheeses and classic Swissbeverages.
“I will happily leave the large-scale production of pasteurized pseudo-Alpine cheeses to the factories. I personally fetch my milk from the farmers and bring it to the dairy. It only takes minutes from there into the cauldron.” -Willi Schmid
July 11, 2012 7:00 pm—8:45 pm
Venue: The Homestead
67 Irving Pl, New York, NY, 10003, United States
More info here.
Jersey Blue, from Willi Schmid, a relatively new award-winning blue from Willi Schmid. The last time I had it was at Fromagerie La Grenette in Sion in the Valais canton of Switzerland over the summer. Despite it’s American-sounding nomenclature it’s actually a Swiss cheese, named after the breed of cow whose milk goes into it.
This is a beautiful blue, the buttery, fudgy pale yellow paste woven through with some of the densest lodes of blue I’ve ever seen. Often blues will have more of a geode structure to their bluing, little air pockets whose walls are lined with mold, but this is almost leafy in its density and firmness, like cheese with kale leaves running through it, thick strands that can be plucked out with a knife intact. In flavor, it is sweet, complex, vegetal and fruity, with a fiery bite and high sapidity. Switzerland is not often mentioned in the same breath as blue cheese, but Herr Schmid could well change that.
Purchased at Stinky Brooklyn.
The Cheese plate of the day. On the plate, from 4:00 clockwise: Grimisuat (Goat), La Bouse (Cow), Valais Alpage Gomser (Cow), A Filetta (Sheep, see my separate entry on this stinker), Petit Gaugry (Cow, basically an Epoisses), and Jersey Blue.
The Jersey Blue is a relatively new award-winning blue from Willi Schmid. I’d had it stateside previously, purchased at Stinky’s, and it was interesting to see it in the case at Fromagerie La Grenette. Despite it’s American-sounding nomenclature it’s actually a German cheese, named after the breed of cow whose milk goes into it.