Rush Creek Reserve
There’s a cheese that took me a while to fall for, and it’s only made in the autumn and winter, from milk that’s suited for just this recipe. The cheese? Vacherin. It has a long history and comes from both France and Switzerland—though some American cheesemakers have adopted the idea and are making excellent domestic versions of the style.
A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be standing in the cheesemaking facility of Uplands Cheese in Dodgeville, WI, a short trek from Madison, WI. I’d been there a decade before, and this facility was just being built by owners Mike and Carol Gingrich, some of the best people you’ll ever meet. On this trip, cheesemaker Andy Hatch took us on a tour and we tasted their outstanding Pleasant Ridge Reserve (which is a crazy-good, intensely nutty with a everlasting finish cow milk cheese based on Beaufort, an Alpine cheese from the Savoie region of France).
And we also tasted their brand newly released Rush Creek Reserve, which is the cheese that took me a while to love. Not that it isn’t a great cheese (because it is), it’s just that sometimes I’m a slow learner. Vacherin-style cheeses are wrapped in spruce bark (or something quite similar), giving the oozy, gooey cow milk cheese that it encases a smoky, meaty, woodsy flavor. And that's what took me a while to appreciate.
So here are the pictures of the Rush Creek Reserve, being wrapped in their bark banding, on their aging tray, and being sampled. Now that I’m completely smitten, I ached for either an Islay single malt (my greatest downfall, or so I tell myself) or a double/triple bock lager. I didn’t have those, but I did have some amazing WI brews directly after. Andy would’ve been proud. So would Mike and Carol Gingrich, I reckon.
Look for Rush Creek Reserve in your favorite cheese shop. If they don’t have it, look for other wonderful bark-wrapped, Vacherin-style cheeses, like Harbison (VT) and Petit Sapin (France). Also, take your time. Love doesn’t always happen immediately. But when it does…it’s forever!