May 11, 2011
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 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.
April 10, 2011
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 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.
April 1, 2011
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 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.
February 26, 2011
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 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.
January 31, 2011
Landaff is a cheese with all-around appeal. It’s a mild version of farmhouse cheddar; its shorter maturation gives it softer flavor and a creamier texture than aged cheddars. Landaff is a good everyday cheese, an easy snacker and likely to have wide appeal.
Landaff has its roots in traditional Welsh farmstead cheeses. It is a semi-firm cheese, farmstead produced by Landaff Creamery of New Hampshire. Landaff is made from the raw cow’s milk and matured for 60 days before market. The cheese is cave-aged by affineur Jasper Hill Farms.
Landaff has a simple rustic appearance. It has a weathered tan rind that is hard and dry. The interior paste is deep yellow, darkening to caramel near the rind. The paste is greasy and smooth to the touch.
Landaff has mild aroma. Its rind smells like wet stone and mineral water. The cheese paste has a rich buttery scent.
Landaff tastes like a mild cheddar. It starts fruity with a blueberry jam flavor. Its flavor builds and becomes sour, bitter and intensely nutty. It has a cheddar-like tang that one can feel on the tongue. Landaff finishes with a mild sourness. Landaff has a chewy and thick texture with nice mouth feel.
Landaff is a nice all-around everyday cheese that could substitute for cheddar. It would make a superb cheese for a picnic or outdoor meal. Landaff makes a delicious snacking cheese and has enough zest for a party plate. It is excellent on its own with no accompaniment. Landaff Creamery suggests its cheese is good for cooking, too.
My kids liked Landaff a lot and appreciated its mildness relative to other cheddars we have tried. Landaff is a definite re-purchase.
Purchase Notes: We purchased Landaff at Cowgirl Creamery (San Francisco).
January 28, 2011
Devil’s Gulch forced us out of our comfort zone. We have avoided Devil’s Gulch since its December release because it is flavored with red chili peppers. With my juvenile tasters, any food with a hint of spice is cause for drama. Yet, perhaps my kids would look beyond the peppers if the spice was married to a luscious cheese by Cowgirl Creamery. Well, this was my hope.
Devil’s Gulch is a soft cheese, produced from pasteurized cow’s milk by Cowgirl Creamery. It has a bloomy rind and a red pepper covered crown. It is produced in a compact cylindrical format and aged for 4 weeks before market. The dried red chili peppers are added after the cheese has matured.
Devil’s Gulch is a pretty, festive-looking cheese. Its cloud white rind is a beautiful foil for the fiery red and orange pepper flakes. To the touch, the rind is dry and velvety. The interior paste is buttery yellow with many holes. The cheese paste is spongy and slightly sticky to the touch.
The rind of Devil’s Gulch smells like button mushrooms, except for its pepper covered crown. Not surprisingly, the crown smells like crushed red pepper.
Overall, Devil’s Gulch is a mild cheese. The cheese paste has a sour citrus flavor, with a spicy paprika kick from the peppers. The chili peppers add a sweet and smokey flavor, similar to roasted red pepper rouille. After eating, a grapefruit sourness lingers on the tongue. Devil Gulch’s texture is rich and luxurious in the mouth.
Devil’s Gulch makes a fun party cheese. Its festive look creates visual interest. The cheese’s luscious texture is certain to have wide appeal and it holds up well out of refrigeration.
During our tasting, my kids ate around the chili peppers. They pronounced Devil’s Gulch delicious, yet they failed to embrace the cheese’s spicy intent. One asked me to purchase Devil’s Gulch again, but we’d be happier with Mt. Tam or Red Hawk.
Purchase Notes: Devil’s Gulch is a seasonal, winter cheese. We began to see it in December, just in time for the holidays. We purchased a whole cheese (about 9-oz.) from Cowgirl Creamery (San Francisco); it easily serves 8.
January 21, 2011
Montgomery’s Cheddar is a country beauty with great flavor, inviting aroma and a chewy texture. While cheddar cheese may not seem all that exciting at the cheese shop, Montgomery’s is a benchmark cheddar and should not be missed. My 11-year-old said it best about Montgomery’s: “This is what cheddar cheese should taste like.”
Montgomery’s Cheddar is farmstead produced by Manor Farm in Somerset, England. It is considered a classic example of English farmhouse cheddar, made from raw cow’s milk. Manor Farm hews to tradition when making Montgomery’s and uses a “peg mill” to cut the cheese curds. This technique affects the cheese’s texture and creates its characteristic fissures. Cheeses are aged 12-14 months before release and may age further with affineur, Neal’s Yard Dairy.
Montgomery’s is a quiet beauty. Its rind is embossed with the tight weave of its traditional cloth wrap. The rind looks like paint-brushed canvas with a palette of soft burgundy, caramel, gold, deep green, gray, and beige. The interior paste is a rich yellow, darkening to butterscotch near the rind. The paste is fissured, dry and smooth.
Montgomery’s has an inviting aroma. The interior paste smells like a meadow of rich soil, flowers, grass and herbs. Its rind smells like roasted peanuts.
Montgomery’s Cheddar has complex flavor: it is sour, tangy, fruity and nutty. There is a compelling fruitiness to this cheese that gives it balance and a full flavor. The cheese ends tangy, but its tanginess is not overwhelming or dominant. Even the after-taste of Montgomery’s has complexity, leaving sour fruit and nutty flavors on the tongue.
The cheese has a chewy texture that encourages slow eating. The cheese is prone to breaking along its fissures when slicing with a knife.
Montgomery’s is packed with flavor, yet my kids described it as a “mild” cheddar. Its flavors are very well-balanced and compelling. Montgomery’s makes a happy snacking cheese, could hold its own at a party, or be toted along for an outdoor meal. Montgomery’s Cheddar is a definite re-purchase.
Purchase Notes: We purchased Montgomery’s Cheddar at Cowgirl Creamery (San Francisco).