Moses Sleeper is unlike any American cheese we have sampled.  It is lush, gooey, rustic and robust.  This cheese–made in Vermont!–is the nearest we have sampled to a gooey Camembert.  The adults gobbled up this cheese, but my kids rejected Moses Sleeper because of its green vegetable flavor.

moses_sleeper_cheese_by_cheesechatter_may_2011Moses Sleeper is farmstead produced by Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro, Vermont.  (Jasper Hill Farm makes two other cheeses we like: Constant Bliss and Winnimere).  Moses Sleeper is a soft cow’s milk cheese with a bloomy rind.  It is produced in a flat disc format, each cheese about 1.25-pounds.   Moses Sleeper is aged at Jasper Hill’s cellar for 3-6 weeks before market.

Moses Sleeper–when whole–looks like a flat cheese pie.  Its rustic appearance is similar to Reblochon, with bumpy surfaces and crimped edges.  Its beige top is furrowed with soft lines and is tacky to the touch.  Moses Sleeper’s interior paste is gooey and wet with flat holes.

Moses Sleeper has a strong aroma when held to the nose.  It smells of yeast and cooked broccoli.  The rind also has a light ammonia scent.

Moses Sleeper is robust and direct.  Its initial flavors are sour milk and wilted green vegetables, however its also has flavors that are sweet and yeasty.  There is an underlying leafy green bitterness that becomes more pronounced at its finish.  Its rind cuts the paste’s bitterness and adds a light mushroom flavor, but it also adds some grittiness.  Moses Sleeper leaves a long mildly bitter aftertaste that is reminiscent of a good stout beer.

Moses Sleeper split our tasters generationally: the adults enjoyed this cheese, while the kids were put off by the cheese’s bitter vegetable flavors.  Moses Sleeper has a fresh from the farm immediacy that is direct and honest.  During our tasting, I commented that Moses Sleeper tastes “alive,” much the way raw vegetables do when just picked from the garden.  I really liked Moses Sleeper and will purchase it again to share with adults.

Moses Sleeper becomes soft and gooey when out of refrigeration but does not become runny.

Purchase Notes:  We purchased Moses Sleeper from Say Cheese (San Francisco).  We purchased half a whole cheese (8 oz.).  Jasper Hill Farm’s cheese notes suggest that Moses Sleeper’s “brassica” flavors become more pronounced with maturation; we likely had a cheese that was more mature.

Bijou is an excellent cheese.  One might snicker–as did my husband–at this goat cheese’s diminutive size.  Yet what petite Bijou lacks in size, it makes up for in flavor.  This American-made gem is one of the best goat cheeses we have tasted.  It is very rewarding and should not be missed.

bijou-cheese-by-cheesechatter-april-2011Bijou is a soft-to-semi-soft cheese produced by Vermont Butter & Cheese Co., in Vermont.  Bijou is made from pasteurized goat’s milk and matures for approximately 2 weeks before market.  Bijou is produced in a petite cylinder format.  Vermont Butter & Cheese delivers Bijou pre-packaged in a 2-cheese “micro-cave” that promotes ripening.

Bijou is a tiny crottin-style cheese plug.  Its deeply wrinkled rind has a buttery cream color.   The interior paste has a milky white core that is dense like clay.  The core is surrounded by a more translucent buttery paste that has a consistency similar to its core.

Bijou’s aroma is farmy: it smells of fresh cut grass, honeycomb, and barnyard.

Bijou is robust and goaty, with a texture that invites savoring.  Its flavors are direct, tangy and lemony tart.  It has a nice, underlying beeswax sweetness that balances its tart flavor.  Bijou’s pasty texture coats the tongue with flavor and encourages slow eating.

We loved Bijou!  It is one of the best goat cheeses we have tasted–American or French.  Bijou’s punch of flavor and goaty aroma reminded us of good French goat cheese.  Bijou is an excellent cheese and one that we look forward to sharing.  Its intimate size makes it a good choice for a small gathering.

Bijou behaves beautifully out of refrigeration; we left our cheese out for over an hour and it did not degrade.  Bijou is a cheese to linger over and savor.  I would consider it for a picnic if carefully packaged.

Purchase Notes:  We purchased Bijou at Cowgirl Creamery (San Francisco).  The cheese is sold whole in a 2-oz. petite size.  We purchased two cheeses in a “micro-cave” package for 4-5 servings.

Hyku is like a breath of summer–eating it makes me long for warm sunny days.  This goat cheese is bright and mild.  Yet it is Hyku’s fluffy, mousse-like texture that makes a lasting impression.  Hyku’s light flavor and airy texture would make a good compliment to a summer meal.

hyku_goat_cheese_by_cheesechatter_april_2011Hyku is a soft goat’s milk cheese produced by Goat’s Leap in Napa Valley, California.  It is made with pasteurized milk and has a mold-ripened rind.  Hyku is produced in a small 6-oz. cylinder format and is aged approximately 6 weeks before market.

Hyku looks like a gourmet marshmallow wrapped in a wonton skin.  Its white bloomy rind is folded and creased, giving it a paper-wrapped look.  To the touch, its rind is soft and downy.  The interior paste is brilliant white and looks dense and chalky.  Just under the rind, Hyku has a whisper thin translucent layer of paste the consistency of thickened cream.

Hyku has very mild aroma, with hints of flowers and pool water.

Hyku has mild flavor and a delightful texture.  Its flavor is like a tart cottage cheese, with more saltiness and some bright citrus flavors.  Hyku has a knock-out texture that is so light and fluffy it feels whipped.  The paste is very moist and creamy.

The soft, fluffy mouth feel of the interior paste is superb, but the rind feels like a thickened piece of skin and creates an unappealing contrast.  We all ate around the rind because its texture detracted from the cheese.

We all liked Hyku.  It has an airy quality that seems well-suited to warm weather and light meals.  I would definitely purchase this cheese again. However, I’d give some consideration to Hyku’s rind before sharing this cheese.

Purchase Notes: We purchased Hyku at Cowgirl Creamery (San Francisco). Availability may be seasonal.  We divided our whole cheese into 8 servings.

Hillis Peak is a goat cheese that stretches one’s imagination.  If chevre occupies one end of the goat cheese spectrum, Hillis Peak would anchor the other end.  This cheese has intriguing flavor, nice texture and a lovely appearance.  Hillis Peak satisfies as a stand-alone cheese.

hillis_peak_cheese_by_cheesechatter_april_2011Hillis Peak is a semi-firm cheese, farmstead produced by Pholia Farms in Rogue River, Oregon.  It is a washed curd cheese, produced from raw goat’s milk.  The cheese is produced in small, 2.5-pound drums.  During its 6-7 month maturation, the cheese’s rind is rubbed with oil and Spanish paprika.

Hillis Peak is a lovely cheese.  Its rusty rind has a deep chevron pattern across its top and bottom, while its sides have a shallow diamond emboss.  The rust brown rind is separated from the paste by a thin layer of bright orange paprika.  Hillis Peak’s ivory paste is smooth, solid and dry to the touch.

Hillis Peak has nice aroma.  Its rind smells of mineral water, ground corn, and cellar.  The interior paste smells like melted butter with a light popcorn scent.

Hillis Peak has varied flavors.  Its flavor starts with a roasted sweet corn flavor, but its sweetness turns almost jammy.  Hillis Peak also has warm buttery and toasted nut flavors.  The cheese finishes with a light nuttiness.  Hillis Peak leaves a mildly nutty aftertaste that has a distinctive goaty flavor.  Although the rind is natural, it tastes like soil and detracts from the cheese; the paste nearest the rind also has more cellar-like flavors that are not appealing.  Its texture is a bit dry and chewy.

Hillis Peak is a fun cheese.  For a goat cheese, it offers a lot of flavor complexity.  During our tasting, we enjoyed identifying its interesting flavors.  Hillis Peak makes a fantastic snacking cheese and is perfect on its own.  Yet, it is so rewarding and visually appealing that it deserves a spot on a cheese plate.

A serving note: Hillis Peak’s rind sheds orange dust that can migrate to the cheese paste if not handled with care.

Purchase Notes:  We purchased Hillis Peak at Cowgirl Creamery (San Francisco).  Pholia Farms makes their cheese in small production, so expect irregular availability.

Coupole is a cheese of pure delight.  This cheese has it all: great flavor, lovely texture, and visual beauty.  Coupole is one of the best goat cheeses we have tasted.  Fair warning: we found this cheese addictive and difficult to stop eating.

coupole_goat_cheese_by_cheesechatter_March_2011Coupole is a soft, aged goat cheese produced by Vermont Creamery in Vermont.  It is produced with pasteurized goat’s milk in a small dome format.  The cheese is sprinkled with ash then matured for 45 days before release.  Vermont Creamery delivers Coupole to market pre-packaged in individual wooden crates.

Coupole looks like a wrinkled snow ball.  It has a deeply wrinkled rind similar to Langres.  Coupole’s rind has a sunny tint and is velvety to the touch.  The milk-white interior paste is dense but not chalky.  Just beneath its rind, Coupole has a silky translucent layer of paste that looks like buttercream icing.

Coupole has a pleasant goaty aroma.  Its rind smells musty with hints of beeswax and daisies.  The interior paste has a more defined honey-like scent.

Coupole is a full-flavored goat cheese with sweet and sour contrast.  The denser core of the cheese has a light honey flavor.  The translucent paste is sour, but more milky sour than citrus sour.  Coupole’s texture is thick, pasty, and buttery.  Coupole leaves a mild aftertaste.

Coupole is a superb cheese.  It is one of the best American-made goat cheeses we have tasted.  Coupole offers fantastic flavor, a rich texture, and a beautiful appearance.  During our tasting, I saved Coupole to the end–much like I did as a child with the best parts of my birthday cake–so that I could savor its flavors and texture more fully.  Coupole is destined for regular purchase.

Coupole’s sweetness suggests dessert, but I would purchase it for any occasion.  Coupole becomes creamier when out of refrigeration, but retains its dome shape.  Even when cut into, Coupole keeps its form.  Coupole should be a top consideration for a cheese plate.

Purchase Notes:  We purchased Coupole at Cowgirl Creamery (San Francisco).  We purchased a whole 6.5-oz. cheese (about 5-6 servings), pre-packaged in a balsa wood box.  The box can be pulled apart for clean removal of the cheese.

Ascutney Mountain is a delicious cheese that calls up comparisons to classic Swiss mountain cheeses.  This US-made cheese is like a younger version of Appenzeller.  It does not deliver Appenzeller’s concentrated flavor, but its flavors are similar and very accessible.

ascutney_mountain_cheese_by_cheesechatter_march_2011Ascutney Mountain is farmstead produced by Cobb Hill Cheese, Vermont.  Cobb Hill is a farm-based community whose residents produce 2 cheeses along with other farm goods through cooperative enterprises.  Ascutney Mountain is a firm cheese made from raw cow’s milk.  The cheese is produced in 10-pound wheels and aged for at least 8 months before market.

Ascutney Mountain is a solid cheese with a natural nutmeg brown rind.  The paste is deep yellow and darkens to golden brown near the rind.  The cheese paste is marked with many irregular-shaped holes.  To the touch, the paste is firm and slightly greasy.

Ascutney Mountain’s rind has a musty cellar scent; the paste smells like freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Ascutney Mountain tastes like a softer–or younger–Appenzeller.  Ascutney Mountain has the tangy and nutty flavors of Appenzeller, yet they are less intense.  Ascutney Mountain has sweet fruity and warm buttery flavors that balance its nutty tanginess.  In the mouth, Ascutney Mountain has a chewy texture with crystallized granules that invite slow eating.  After eating, a sour nuttiness lingers.

Ascutney Mountain was a big hit at our table.  It is a lovely cheese with warm flavor and a nice texture.  Interestingly, our juvenile tasters found Ascutney Mountain more accessible than Appenzeller.  Like a good Swiss classic, Ascutney Mountain is easy to eat and needs no accompaniment.

Purchase Notes:  We purchased Ascutney Mountain at Cowgirl Creamery (San Francisco).

Winnimere is a first class cheese for an inelegant party among friends.  When out of refrigeration, Winnimere relaxes into a gooey ooze.  Even when eating with spoons, this cheese was messy.  Winnimere is fun to eat and has a flavor similar to another bark-banded cheese, Forsterkase.

winnimere-cheese-by-cheesechatter-february-2011Winnimere is a soft washed rind cheese, farmstead produced by Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont.  It is made from raw cow’s milk.  The cheese is produced in a flat disc format, banded with spruce bark, and washed with local beer.  Like Forsterkase, Winnimere’s spruce band gives the cheese structure, flavor and a distinctive aroma.  It is aged at the Cellars at Jasper Hill for 60 days before market.

Winnimere is a rustic beauty.  Its bark band gives this young cheese a weathered appearance.  The bark ring looks like damp old leather; it is flecked with white and blue-green surface molds.  Winnimere has a salmon pink rind that is thick, bumpy and pliable.  Its interior paste is pale, wet and soupy.

Winnimere has a pervasive perfume, but it is not offensive.  Its dominant scent is woodsy and reminiscent of freshly ground mulch or a cedar-lined chest.  The rind has a barnyard odor, while the cheese paste smells like smoked nuts.

Winnimere has strong flavors.  Its flavors are smoky, herbally, softly nutty, woodsy and sour.  It leaves a long smoky and woodsy aftertaste.  Winnimere’s texture is like thick glue; the cheese coats the tongue with a pasty cream.

We all liked Winnimere and had a lot of fun eating it.  Its flavor reminded us of Forsterkase, yet Winnimere’s texture has a soupier consistency.  Unlike Forsterkase, Winnimere is a cheese one ought to purchase whole, remove its top rind, and dip into with spoons.

Purchase Notes:  We purchased Winnmere at Cowgirl Creamery (San Francisco); it is available January-June.  Winnimere should be purchased as a whole cheese; if purchasing half a cheese, get home quickly before it relaxes too much.