In a country such as Switzerland that has a rich and important tradition of cheesemaking, it is especially exciting to learn of cheesemakers creating new and innovative products. Willi Schmid is an excellent example of a Swiss cheesemaker who is able to think outside of the cheese box while still expressing the great terroir of his land.
Schmid, who has only been runnning his dairy in the Toggenburg area of Switzerland since 2006, makes about two dozen different types of cheeses. Schmid receives milk from nearby farms every morning. It is only after tasting the milk that he decides what cheese should be made, not being afraid to suspend and alter his production schedule to make sure he is making the best cheese possible. This is one of the practices that truly sets him apart as a great cheesemaker. Each day the milk tastes different to him and speaks to him in a different way. From there, he is able to bring out the best qualities in the milk by customizing the cheese production process to the milk, which is a practically unheard of method in the cheesemaking world. In such a short time he has gained a reputation as an excellent and fearless cheesemaker. Even the famed Swiss affineur Rolf Beeler considers him to be the most talented cheesemaker in the country!
This former plumber is making some of the most interesting and unusual cheese coming out of Switzerland. My personal favorite is (not surprisingly) one of his blue cheeses called Jersey Blue. This raw cow’s milk cheese is certainly easy on the eyes, with beautiful lines of blue mold snaking throughout the pale yellow paste. Schmid hand ladles the curds in to every cheese mold, allowing pockets of air for the blue mold to grow. The cheese has a slightly musty aroma with a rich, creamy texture accented by the bite of the blue mold. Both rustic and refined, to me this cheese boldly speaks of Schmid’s innovation and creativity.
We only receive this cheese every once in awhile, so if you see it in the store definitely be sure to try it! We carry some of his other excellent cheeses, so make sure to look for Willi Schmid’s name in our case.