Birth of a Cheese
Tasting a new cheese from Jasper Hill is like test driving a new Ferrari, so when I had the opportunity to be involved with this, I jumped at the chance. Roughly 2 years ago Jasper Hill had a similar idea called the "Conundrum Project" which gave birth to the blooming blessing known as Harbison, if that is any indication of where the "Birth of a cheese " project is going, I am definitely coming along for the ride. Many thanks to Will and Jasper Hill for thinking I might have something intelligent to say about it too!
My name is Ezekial and I have been slingin' cheese for about the last 9 years of my life. Every year has been more interesting, rewarding and enlightening than the previous. One of the big career highlights for me was a week long visit to Jasper Hill Farm and getting to witness firsthand the incredible cheeses and other foods that are being made in the North East Kingdom.
So let's get right down to it... last night I opened three cheeses from Jasper Hill. Each came wrapped in brown paper so aside from the rough shape, all of us receiving these new cheeses had no idea what to expect.
What greeted us were three samples, each obviously the same cheese yet... not... exactly.
Hi everybody! My name is Chris and I write the Artisan & Farmstead cheese blog Wedge in the Round: http://wedgeintheround.com/
Someday I hope to own my own shop. For now I eat, write, eat, eat and write a little then eat more cheese. I enjoy shooting pics of cheese, food and wine in general.
I'll be blogging my impressions of Jasper Hill's new cheese here at Culture. I cannot say thank you enough to Culture and Jasper Hill for selecting me to be a tester this year.
Three generous wedges arrived yesterday and I'm about to dive in for the first time. I'll let you know my first impressions soon.
Tomorrow, May 1st, is your last day to apply for the 2012 Birth of a Cheese event, and we're throwing open the doors to all comers.
To apply to become a taster for Jasper Hill's latest locally-sourced, sustainable Alpine cheese, just go to our application and tell us in 200 words or less why you're the one we want.
Jasper Hill wants this project to help build a sustainable local food economy for Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, and we're proud to involve everyone in our community by opening the application process to everyone. So don't wait, apply now!
Ah, bliss... This blue cheese never required much tweaking, but the third offering simply can't be improved-- a creamy yet firm ivory base, grainy rather than pasty blue veins, and tasting of the earth itself: rich grasses, the salty tang of an ocean breeze, and strong, sharp spicy notes.
My biggest challenge this time was what to do with this little treasure. I decided to take samples to wine tasting rooms and other appropriate businesses here in Old Town Cottonwood and get pairing suggestions. Kevin Grubb , the sommelier of The Stronghold Tasting Room, sampled the cheese and without hesitation, suggested "Short and Sweet," a sparkling muscat from nearby Page Springs Winery. I must say, the lad knows his stuff.
My apologies for this late post. I’ve been on a self-directed tour of Rocky Mountain goat dairies to get new ideas for my goat cheeses and to learn new techniques. In other words, I’ve tasted some excellent cheeses. If you have access to the cheeses from Amaltheia Organic Dairy in Belgrade, Montana, grab some, for goodness’ sake.
My tomme awaited me in the cooler of my son’s little bakery when I returned. Luckily, no one investigated the package or I wouldn’t be writing this at all. The cheese is the color of straw with a buckskin colored rind. Usually when I smell hard cheeses, they remind me of a cheese cave or cellar—dampish and sharp. The tomme, when held up close, fell into that category but when I held it farther away, it smelled mushroomy, like a forest floor (in Montana). When I tasted the cheese with the rind, I also definitely detected the sea.
I was shopping to prepare for hurricane Irene. I bought staple items like bacon and butter, as well as flour and other ingredients to make bread. The Point Reyes Tomme that arrived that day fit perfectly into my hurricane preparations. The letter that was enclosed said to savor it with a fine scotch or Tawny Port which suddenly made squirreling it all away impossible. So we set it out to warm up and poured the port.
It was Christmas in August when I received my Tomme from Point Reyes Farmstead in the mail. It is a hard cheese, not usually one of my favorite kinds of cheese but when paired with the suggested scotch (not a scotch fan, but the cheese made it very tasty, indeed), we found doing the research a real pleasure. My wing man (also known as the husband) and I had no trouble enjoying our task. Although this is a much milder cheese than the blues, the Tomme has its place in gastronomy. We liked the subtle after-bite when savored with a red wine. The crystals in the cheese definitely gave this cheese an extra zing. It was my favorite part of the cheese.
My love affair with cheese started at a young age with the more processed cheeses like Velveeta and Kraft Singles. Later in life I graduated to elevated levels of cheese nirvana and now include Camboloza, Broschetto Al Tartufo, and Pierre Robert among my favorites. I have champagne taste on a beer budget (or a reasonable wine budget) and would rather spend my last pennies on a small wedge of fine cheese than on a big meal. I am a novice cheese-taster, but definitely a pro at eating it; so imagine my surprise and excitement when I was chosen to be on the Point Reyes Birth of a Cheese Tasting Panel.
I can safely say that receiving cheese in the mail is just about one of the coolest things that can happen to a cheese geek like me. I spend most waking moments surrounded by cheese, whether it be cheese monger by day at Whole Foods Market, or cheese maker by night in my messy and cluttered home kitchen. To have the opportunity to try a brand new cheese that is unavailable to the general public is nothing short of thrilling.