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

 

Eat Cheese, Drink Summer Beers & Be Merry

By John David Ryan

 

I love beer. I drink it year ‘round. But it’s 90 degrees outside right now. I have a cabinet full of barrel-aged quads and stouts–and most of them will still be there when the leaves start to change. No one’s hammering a Founders KBS or Thirsty Dog Wulver right now. You’re drinking session ales. You’re drinking freshly hopped beer. You’re drinking plenty of pale.

But it’s prime time for cheese, too! Cows and sheep and goats across the world are eating plenty of lush, fresh, green grass. They’re turning it into creamy milk and cheese-makers are producing some of their finest products.

Let’s put the two together.

Go grab some Bijou from Vermont Creamery. Seriously. Do it right now. And while you’re out picking it up, grab a sixer of Bell’s Brewery’s Oberon. It’s the perfect summer wheat beer–not too sweet, not too spicy, and not too heavy. Or, if you want to keep it all in Vermont, maybe try some Otter Creek Fresh Slice. It complements the tangy, metallic flavors in Allison Hooper’s super creamy take on crottin. Bijou is a perfect little button of goat’s milk cheese.

Few things intimidate curd nerds like washed rind cheese. And even the most serious of hop heads can be turned off by a sour beer. Fret not! You can pair the two and simultaneously overcome your fears. Cato Corner Farm washes its Hooligan in brine until it reaches stinky orange perfection. Try it with Westbrook’s Gose or Evil Twin’s Nomader Weisse. The tart, acidic beer helps bring out the creaminess of the cheese.

Everyone loves cheddar. Everyone. If you don’t like cheddar, then you probably don’t like cute kittens, rainbows or laughing babies either. Seriously–what’s not to love about crumbly, intense cheddar? And if you want the best cheddar in the world, you’re probably going to grab Montgomery’s Clothbound English cheddar. And if you are going to pair it with beer, you’re probably going to get an IPA. And if you’re going to get an IPA, you want a hoppy, American beer. And that’s why you’re going to buy some Ithaca Flower Power or Founders’ All Day IPA.

Finally, we come to the easy drinkers. The pale ales. The pilsners. The lagers. Get you some Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale or Stillwater Classique or maybe a Pinkus Ur-Pils. Anyone can love a lighter beer, and they pair beautifully with tome-style cheeses. My current favorite is Margot. This fine Italian cheese is made by 4th generation cheese makers, and it’s washed in BEER! The hint of hops on the outside sets off the flavors of the fudgy interior.

Eat (cheese), drink and be merry.