Better than Appenzeller (except for the name)
August 26, 2012
When we finally received the second shipment of cheese from Jasper Hill, we were a bit disapointed to discover they were not as generous as they’d been the first time. We are embarassed to admit that we didn’t notice the name “Alpha Tolman” on the stickers, so when asked “What do you think of the name?” we weren’t sure what to write. Thanks to Anne who was the first to blog about her Round 2 experience, we were informed of the name. As we wrote on the feedback form, we don’t really get from whence came this name—it doesn’t make us think of Vermont nor Alpine nor even cheese for that matter! So we’re not sure how successful it is as a name. [After looking at some of the other blog posts we understand it’s named after an obscure Vermonter with no clear connection to the cheese. Perhaps Beta Tolman would have been better for this round?]
In Round 1 we came up with “Grünberg” which translates to “Ver Mont” (Green Mountain). Also, “Soorshwah” which is the phonetic spelling of “Surchoix” which is a marketing term for an Appenzeller aged 4–6 months.
Both of the pieces we received this time #120109 and #120125 were aged for at least 7 months.
Appearance: Mottled orangey tan, like a dull carrot. Paste: Very small eyes, light yellow color, slightly darker next to the rind.
Aroma: Grassy, woodsy, like wet brick near the rind.
Texture: Supple and smooth, not crumbly, not squeaky at all. Very pleasant, but we did not eat the rind.
Flavor: The initial flavor is a slight tanginess that dissolves into sweetness. Then one becomes aware of the pleasant saltiness. Neither is sharp flavored—same level of saltiness in both. Doesn’t have a long finish, but a nice mellow sweet/salt finish, nonetheless.
Overall, we liked both, but #120125, which had a slight peanutty flavor at first, had a more complex flavor than #120109—more character somehow. A few weeks ago we purchased some Swiss Appenzeller from a gourmet store in our neighborhood, but we both prefer the “Alpha Tolman.”
Under “Marketability” the Jasper Hill feedback form asks what we think the suggested retail value should be. Our personal benchmarks are Pleasant Ridge Reserve and Tarentaise: two American, award-winning, aged, alpine, raw-milk cheeses we love. We have seen Pleasant Ridge sold for over $33 per pound, although Tarentaise is usually around $26. Murray’s Cheese sells a young Swiss Appenzeller for $25 per pound.
As far as food/drink pairings, we tried the cheese with a couple very dry sparkling sodas (pomegranate and blackberry) and didn’t care for either generally or with the cheese. We did like Cheerwine, cherry soda (not overly sweet nor artificial) and it was a good match. We also tried it with three honeys we had from Hawai’i. One of the honeys we didn’t even like plain (Ohi’a Lehua Blossom), the other two were good with the cheeses (Macadamia Nut Blossom and especially Wilelaiki Blossom). Our favorite pairing was eating the cheese with roasted, unsalted almonds, a wonderful combination!
Had we had more of the cheese we may have tried it in a fondue or in a soufflé. Maybe next time!
–David & Gerard, NYC