Artisanal cheese can be found in pretty much every state in the union. I dare you to try and name a state that doesn’t have at least one dairy or creamery. Even the island of Hawaii is home to some great cheesemakers! Over my next few posts, I’ll talk about some of these great American cheesemakers, starting with my home state of Missouri. Continue reading →
The United States is embarking on a revival of the craft of artisan cheesemaking. Over the past several years, American-made artisanal cheese has won back its place in the hearts of the people. Artisanal cheese can be found once again in cases at wine shops, specialty stores and at farmers’ markets. According to the American Cheese Society, there has been astounding growth in membership as well as the number and variety of American artisanal cheeses entered in its annual competition.
Some folks may dare to say that American artisanal cheese may rival those European classics that have long been thought of as the best of the best. It cannot be denied that American artisanal cheesemakers are becoming well known across the country. With the advent of blogs, Facebook, Twitter and cheese periodicals like Culture, American cheesemakers and cheesemongers are winning over America’s food enthusiasts. Continue reading →
Still toiling away in graduate school but couldn’t miss this opportunity to tell you about Seehive!
photo courtesy of Beehive Cheese Company
From the Beehive Cheese Co. website “…..is hand rubbed with Beehive wildflower honey and local Redmond RealSalt. The honey is harvested from a local farm where the bee’s visit wildflowers and fruit orchards. The salt is from an ancient sea bed near Redmond, Utah and contains unique flecks of color that are the result of more than 50 natural trace minerals. This cheese is shaping up to be one of our best experiments yet and is a true expression of our local flavors”
This interesting specimen is now available here in StL. Buzz on over to The Wine Merchant and ask Simon for a taste. You won’t go home empty handed!
If you have been reading The Novice Foodie or my Twitter posts then you may have some idea about Kunik. Kunik is a triple cream cheese made in Thurman, NY by Nettle Meadow Farm. Owned by Lorraine Lambiase and Sheila Flanagan, Nettle Meadow Farm is nestled on a cozy 50 acres just below Crane Mountain in the Adirondacks.
Kunik is a white-mold ripened cheese made from goat milk and jersey cow cream. It has a delicate bloomy rind that smells sweet and grassy…but the inside yields a unctuous and buttery cheese with gracious tang. Perfect on a slice of baguette topped with fruit chutney….or just slathered graciously on a toasted bagel.
Best at room temperature (like ALL CHEESE), Kunik has a permanent space on our kitchen counter. Delicate and powerful…Kunik is by far becoming the favorite cheese of us here in St. Louis. It is by far, my current obsession….delivered in small dreamy little rounds it doesn’t last long once cut into. To be honest…I don’t think we have ever failed at finishing off the round once we got started.
The current batch at cheese counter at The Wine Merchant is by far the best we’ve had in Missouri……and that is saying a lot because ever subsequent batch and been perfect.
Constant Bliss is based on a Chaource recipe, which we modified to suit our production schedule and cheesemaking facility. The result is a cheese which hardly even resembles a Chaource. It is a slow ripened lactic curd made only with fresh, right out of the cow, uncooled, evening milk. We actually begin the cheesemaking process before the cows have finished milking. Constant Bliss is made with raw whole milk. This is not a double or triple crème cheese as is sometimes thought. Seasonal variations in the milk result in variations on the surface and flavor of the cheese. We like to use Constant Bliss to highlight our milk, and rather than overpowering the natural microflora of our milk with cotton white mold, we prefer to see a mottling of diverse molds and yeasts, which are prevalent particularly in the summer months when the cows are out on grass. It is aged 60 days before it leaves the farm, and is a ‘sell it or smell it’ item for retailers.
We named Constant Bliss after a revolutionary war scout killed in Greensboro by native Americans in 1781. He was guarding the Bayley Hazen Military Road with his compatriot Moses Sleeper, who died with him.
It’s name it suitable….b/c when you eat it…you are in a state of constant bliss!!!! Very fitting.
This week’s featured Cheesemaker is Mike Gingrich of Uplands Cheese Company out of Dodgeville, Wisconsin. Mike (and his cows) are known for their Pleasant Ridge Reserve.
Their initial motivation for developing hard cheeses was to preserve the summer’s milk production for winter use. “Cows calved in spring and produced milk until winter ended the grazing season. Excess summer milk was turned into cheese, stored in caves and brought to the table during winter.“
And if you are looking for freshness…look no further: “We make our cheese right on the farm starting within minutes after the last cow has been milked. Using such fresh milk eliminates the possibility of the milk developing any off flavors.”
You can find some of Upland Cheese Company’s finest here in St. Louis. The Wine Merchant is carrying the Extra Aged Pleasant Ridge Reserve. It’s aged 18 months, is drier, flavors are more intense and sweetness is more caramel-like. Stop in and pick some up!!
**The Cheesemonger’s Wife will be on holiday next week and, therefore will not be featuring a Cheesemaker of the Week until after February 18th. But stay tuned for tales from our travels to Phoenix, AZ!
Everona Dairy started because Dr. Patricia Elliott bought a Border Collie puppy on impulse in 1992 at the Montpelier Spring Wine Festival. Then she had to get sheep so she could have work to do. One day, she was trying to think of some way for the sheep to pay their own way , and it occurred to her that she might milk them. She didn’t know then that there are more sheep milked in the world than cows. Or that sheep’s milk cheese was so delicious!One thing thus led to another and now Everona Dairy is milking over 100 sheep and has 4 employees. In addition, Dr. Elliott carries on her medical practice, raises Border Collies, writes when she can, and has many other interests.
Bleu Mont Dairy is part of a farmcommitted to sustainable agriculture and renewable energy. The farm sits atop a ridge near Blue Mounds State Park in the picturesque driftless region of southern Wisconsin. Even from a distance, the main power source — a 10kw wind generator — can be spotted above the treetops. A long driveway leads past a field of rotational organic gardens up to the passive solar home, straw bale greenhouse/cave, and orchard. Besides assorted organic cheeses, they grow in-season garlic and asparagus.
Making Original Cheeses
Bleu Mont Dairy began over 20 years ago with an array of delicious Swiss-style cheeses, but in the last several years, Willi has started to develop a line of original artisan cheeses.
In 2003, Willi built a straw bale “cave” that includes an aging room lined with cedar boards. The thick straw walls of the cave help Willi control its humidity and temperature, critical components of aging. Because of his ability to control temperature and humidity, he can conduct cheese experiments. That helps him learn what works and doesn’t as he develops new cheeses.
With help from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Dairy Research, Willi traveled to England to learn from their cheddar artisans. He brought back new (old) techniques that he learned there, and he is now figuring out how to use those practices in his experiments with cheeses.
We are a husband and wife team who together are living a dream we envisioned and have prepared for since 1993. Our purpose is to provide a superior cheese, abundantly rich in life force coming from our high quality, organic milk produced from our small herd of Alpine and Nubian goats. Our goats are lovingly cared for. We believe it all begins with the goats. Content, healthy,well respected animals produce superior milk. You can taste it in the cheese! Our employees have the same high regard for the goats and the cheese as we do,it makes for a very satisfying work environment. That care and attention goes into the cheesemaking and only the finest high quality ingredients are used. Our cheese is offered to our customers with pride, Knowing that they will taste the difference. Our mission is to produce a high quality organic goat cheese, full of vitality.Our intent is to increase health and enjoyment to our customers
This one is for my pal Mac….soon to be moving to the Pacific Northwest! I love seeing couples working together and creating a nutritious, healthy, delicious natural products. I can’t help but envision my life in a couple years from now on the farm in Wisconsin.