So Happy Together: Hard Apple Cider = Easy Cheese Pairing

 

by Jenn Smith

 

Cider works well as a companion to cheese for a number of reasons – the acidity that comes from tart, juicy cider apples cuts through the inherent richness and saltiness of cheese, the carbonation scours the palate of butterfat, letting you take another bite, and the flavors of cider – terroir-driven, sometimes earthy, usually fruity – complement the flavor profiles of many cheeses.

While we were up at the Vermont Cheese Festival I made a point of seeking out the local cider makers – when you are slinging cheese on a hot day as I was, cider is a refreshing choice for an adult beverage – it’s average alcohol by volume (ABV) is generally lower than wine or even most beers so, less tipsy-making. And what better way to celebrate the bounty of New England then by drinking an agricultural product made by locals from local fruit!

 

I was particularly impressed with the ciders coming out of Whetstone Ciderworks. They are bright, rustic, and reflect the complex deliciousness of the heirloom apples that the cider makers source from orchards around their family farm. They have a couple of different expressions, but I was particularly smitten with the Orchard Queen, which uses oddball varietals such as the Dabinett and Ashmead’s Kernel that lend tannins to the end product; those tannins are a perfect foil for the dense creaminess of some of the cavemaster cheeses I was preparing for seminar tasting plates. In particular, the Orchard Queen made a love match with Greensward – the funkiness of the washed rind brought out some depth in the drink, and the overall effect of the combination was of an apple and leek custard enriched with bacon fat. The texture of the cider kept my palate from being weighed down with the unctuousness of the washed rind cheese.

 

I’m of the opinion that, like Champagne, rustic cider goes with just about anything, so the Whetstone-Greensward combo is just one pairing – I’m sure it would have played nicely with the Torus, or the Tarantaise…or just about any of the cheeses in our caves. Get your hands on some cider and give it a try yourself!

Take a Peek: Ayers Brook Goat Dairy

by Becky Nawrocki

Ayers Brook Goat Dairy opened the barn doors to their state-of-the-art milking facility to give us an inside peek.  These lovely ladies have been specially bred from the best stock for flavor and milk production.

Ayers Brook Goat Dairy is a sustainable dairy created by Vermont Creamery where they hope to mentor the next generation of Vermont farmers and provide genetic stock for building new herds.

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Vertical Pairings at the Vermont Cheesemaker Festival

Vertical Pairings at the Vermont Cheesemaker Festival

By Caitlin Bower

 

Let’s get vertical.

Vertical tasting explores the history of a cheese: how it starts (as milk, as curd, as a fresh cheese, as a toddler) to how it ends up in its final expression. It is the most immediate and accessible way to taste and understand affinage. By eating a cheese at different stages of its development, you taste the flavors that can develop with careful treatment, age and time. While attending July’s Vermont Cheesemaker Festival, I attended a seminar in which three featured cheesemakers chose a different way to explore this process, and with different milk types.

1. Fresh Curd vs. 1 year old (pasteurized and raw cow) – Plymouth Artisan Cheeses

Granular curd cheesemaking is the rare, work-intensive process that Plymouth Artisan Cheese owner, Jesse Werner, was able to showcase with his fresh curd and year-old Plymouth “The Original” side by side. From an 1890’s recipe, the curd was squeaky, delicious and a tiny bit tangy. The “Original” is made with those same curds and has a bright, acidic, cheddary flavor, much altered by age and process.

The Mozzarella Making class at Murray’s also offers the opportunity to taste both curd and cheese, with a fun, hands-on addition of making your own mozzarella in the classroom.

2. Young Bloomy vs Aged Alpine (sheep) – Woodcock Farm Cheese Co

This vertical pair explored the same milk type expressed in two styles: one younger and soft, one older and hard.

Summer Snow vs. the Wheston Wheel – you can even hear it in the name; the first cheese is a delicate, exuberant, young, soft cheese with a tender, slightly squeaky rind while the second is nuttier, sweeter, complex and more robust.

 

3. Fresh vs. Mold Ripened (goat) – Vermont Creamery

crottin, a super-fresh goat milk button

bijou is lightly aged, which gives it time to develop its silk rind

From fresh chèvre to brain like and acidic, the Crottin’s final form is the Bijou. The first cheese has a tiny amount of the geotrichum, which adds a slight yeasty flavor at a day old, develops into a full rind by the second week to become an entirely different cheese. This vertical pairing is a perfect example of how much a cheese can change in just two short weeks, and how both can be delicious in their own right.

 

 

 

 

 

Try out a vertical taste test on your own!

Cellars at Jasper Hill: Harbison vs. Cavemaster Reserve Greensward

1 year Comte vs. 2 or 3 year Comte

And for a triple-header, go for the Murray’s Cavemaster trio: Kinderhook Creek vs. Hudson Flower vs. C Local

 

The Best of Frenemies: Red Wine & Triple Crème Cheese

Consider this a friendly PSA from your favorite cheesemongers: Just say “No!” to Bloomies and red wine!

We know how it is…you just brought home an amazing little creambomb from Murray’s and you want to dig in RIGHT AWAY, just after you pour yourself a bulbous glass of Barolo to sip on while you chow down. STOP. Put down the bottle and slowly step away from the counter. What you were about to do was the equivalent of tap dancing all over a patch of unsuspecting, happy little daisies. Big reds are full of flavor and cream-killing tannins–don’t get us wrong, we love ‘em, but there’s a time and a place, people. Or should we say, a TOMME and a place.  It’s best to pair your bloomies with complementary flavor profiles that won’t shout over their delicate notes. We have some tips to help you through this confusing time.

Delice de Bourgogne - Pasteurized Cow Milk, France

A tribute to small scale industrial French cheese-making, Delice de Bourgogne (Burgundy) is produced by Fromagerie Lincet. The pasteurized triple creme (75% butterfat – booyah) marries full-fat cow milk with fresh cream, producing an unapologetic rich, whipped delight. Unlike many straightforward triple-cremes, this one has a thin, pungent mold rind that imparts straw and mushroom aromas, complementing the buttery yellow, sweet cream interior. Sure it’s from Burgundy (just like the wine), but this is one instance where what grows together does NOT go together. A full-bodied red will decimate all those delicate flavors like a bull stampede through a chandelier factory. Play nice with white wine and bubbles instead!

Serving tip: It makes a dreamy brunch treat when served with fresh berry jam on baguette and a glass of champagne.

La Tur - Pasteurized Sheep, Goat & Cow Milk

Not all bloomies are mild and buttery. La Tur is a great example of a creamy cheese that has rich, full flavors, but that doesn’t mean you should go running to the Barberra aisle at your local wine shop. La Tur is runny and oozing around the perimeter with a moist, cakey, palette-coating paste; its flavor is earthy and full, with a lingering lactic tang. The effect is like ice cream served from a warm scoop: decadent and melting from the outside in. Barolo and other big reds will wash away all that richness without giving it a chance to work its magic on your palate.  And who wants to do a thing like that?

Serving tip: Always a hit at parties, serve this crowd-pleaser with fresh fruit, dried figs and Prosecco. An ideal regional pairing would be a sparkling Asti Spumante- effervescence will whisk away the richness while matching the mild acidity.

Go Big or Go Home: The BFFs

O.K. No need to dump your Barolo down the drain–now’s when we tell you what DOES go with bold reds. Phew!

If you want a soft cheese to serve with your favorite scene-stealing red, go for washed rinds like Epoisses, Hudson Red or C Local. These cheeses are washed in booze or brine as they age, so they grow up learning how to handle their liquor, so to speak. You can also delve into more aged sheep and mixed milk cheeses, which are inherently more intense flavor-wise.

 

 

Podda Classico – Pasteurized Sheep and Cow, Italy

Now were talking! Podda is rich, nutty and salty and strong enough to stand up to everything a Barolo can put out.  Sheep milk is naturally fattier, and as every chef knows, where there’s fat, the flavor isn’t far behind.  The gutsy flavor cuts through the red’s tannins and smooths everything out real nice like.  Podda is a wonderful pasteurized mix of cow and sheep milk  from the glorious island of Sardinia. Aged for almost one year, this cheese has a wonderful sweet, nutty flavor, a crumbly slightly crunchy texture, and a lingering tangy finish.

Ossau-Iraty Vielle – Raw Sheep, France

Ossau is the grand dame of the cheese world and everyone knows how granny likes her liquor.  The nutty, brothy, somewhat fish-saucy notes wafting out of a slice of Ossau pretty much dare red wine to bring it.  Like the Podda, the sheep milk helps mellow out the rough spots so all you get is bright, full flavor. Somebody break out the bottle of Nebbiolo!