*We would like to introduce to you the newest addition to The Wine Source cheese team! Chris is originally from Southeastern Pennsylvania. He has a unique cheese story for our store because he has spent time on the production end of the cheese business. If he were trapped on a desert island with one cheese forever, he hopes it to be Casu Marzu (Which is a cheese ripened with maggots. He is a crazy man!) So with further ado, here is Chris to share with you some thoughts on cheese…
With so many cheeses in the store right now from the US of A it might be difficult to know just where to start. As the newest member of the cheese team, most of these domestic treasures are new to me. So in order to help others better navigate the case, here are some stand-outs from my first impressions:
Pleasant Ridge Reserve, raw cow’s milk cheese from Uplands Cheese, Wisconsin:
This cheese is made in the style of a Beaufort (that French cheese in the Gruyere family from Savoie). Pleasant Ridge Reserve is an excellent example of what American cheesemakers can attain when it comes to following the recipes of the great, well established European cheeses. The folks at Uplands use only the raw milk from May to early October when the cows are grazing fresh pasture. Production is limited by the weather and “reserving” the production to this time when the milk is at its best makes for a truly special cheese. The flavors are long, smooth, fruity and complex. It is no surprise that Pleasant Ridge Reserve has won the American Cheese Society’s Best in Show three times in the last ten years!
Flory’s Truckle, raw cow’s milk cheese from Missouri (aged at Milton Creamery, Iowa):
When you hear ‘great American cheddar’ you might think Vermont, or Wisconsin, but Missouri is probably not a state that comes to mind. Nevertheless Tim Flory has developed a fine cheese there that holds its own next any other American cheddar and even the long-standing greats of England. The raw milk from Tim’s Jersey cows is cultured in a singled vat, and the curds are hand-packed into the cloth-lined truckle molds. After 60 days the cheeses make their way to Iowa to finish aging with the Musser family at Milton Creamery. Flory’s Truckle has a sweet attack, nutty notes along the way and a pleasant, long-lasting sharpness, easily enjoyed by all!
Harbison, pasteurized cow’s milk cheese from Jasper Hill Farm, Vermont:
When I first tried this bark-wrapped bloomy-rind cheese, it was unlike any other cheese I have tasted. We opened the wrapper to see the white candidum rind, encircled with a delicate strip of spruce cambium, the soft, inner-layer of the tree’s bark and there wasn’t a pronounced aroma. We cut it in half. I put a small slice of the cheese in my mouth and the flavors lit up, bright and active on the back-drop of the rich creamy texture, woodsy notes and a unique mustard finish. It has taken a couple samplings for me to come around to this cheese but now it’s something I’m really excited about. As the cheese ripens, it breaks down to a thick, spoonable liquid inside the rind, and I look forward to gathering a couple friends to enjoy a wheel with some crusty bread and a couple crisp IPAs.
So that covers about 5% of our selection of American cheeses! Keep your eye on the blog for more or just come in the store and see for yourself.