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.
May 3, 2011
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 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.
April 16, 2011
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 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.
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 14, 2011
Weybridge is a bright, pocket-sized cheese. It has a tart flavor that is mild and appealing. Its petite format and crisp flavor make it ideal for outdoor meals.
Weybridge is a farmstead cheese produced by Scholten Family Farm in Weybridge, VT. It is a soft, bloomy rind cheese made from pasteurized cow’s milk. The cheese is produced in a petite flat disc (or “medallion”) format. It is aged at the Cellars at Jasper Hill for 30 days before market.
Weybridge looks like a shrunken Camembert. Its soft white rind is like a thickened skin; it is embedded with lines and wrinkles from the cheese’s production process and packaging. The interior paste is buttery yellow, with a denser chalkier core.
Weybridge’s rind has a delicate mushroom aroma. The interior has a light scent that is similar to Band-Aids.
Weybridge’s flavor is bright and straight-forward. It has a tart and fresh citrus flavor. The cheese’s denser core is more intensely tart than its creamier paste. Weybridge leaves a mild sour after-taste.
Weybridge is an easy-to-please cheese. It has mild flavors that are accessible, but unlikely to make a dramatic impact. At our tasting, half of our tasters liked the cheese a lot and would purchase it again, while the others found it too bland.
Weybridge is an excellent cheese for a picnic: its compact format is easy to tote and it keeps shape out of refrigeration. Its flavors evoke summer and would be a perfect compliment to an impromptu outdoor meal.
Purchase Notes: We purchased Weybridge at Cowgirl Creamery (San Francisco). We quartered our petite, 5-oz. cheese into 4 servings.
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.
December 20, 2010
Hudson Valley Camembert is a cheese that is easy to skip over: it is diminutive and lacks visual intrigue. Had I not tasted this cheese at the cheese counter, I probably would have ignored it. Yet, this mild-mannered cheese is an easy crowd-pleaser that offers good buttery flavor and texture.
Hudson Valley Camembert is produced by Old Chatham Sheepherding Co. of New York. It is a bloomy rind camembert-style cheese made from a combination of sheep and cow’s milk. Old Chatham produces its camembert in both round and square formats; our sample is from a square cheese.
Hudson Valley Camembert cuts a low-profile on the plate. The cheese’s unimposing format is very low and flat. Its snowy white rind is gently pressed with vertical lines. To the touch, the rind is velvety and damp.
Its interior paste is butter yellow and soft. The paste feels smooth and greasy, similar to butter.
The rind has faint aromas of mushrooms and crayons. The interior paste smells like crackers or baked bread.
Hudson Valley Camembert’s flavor is sweet and buttery, with a slight tangy kick that reaches the nose. The rind adds a light mushroom flavor to the cheese. Hudson Valley Camembert has a smooth texture that feels like butter.
Hudson Valley Camembert is a mild and pleasant cheese, with a modest kick. This cheese is easy to eat and likely to be a crowd pleaser. Its small format makes it a good candidate for outdoor eating; the whole cheese is compact and portable. Although we all liked this cheese, it did not knock our socks off.
Purchase Notes: We purchased Hudson Valley Camembert at The Cheese Board (Berkeley, CA). We purchased half of a whole cheese, but should have purchase the whole thing. Our sample was just 2 0z., which we cut into 4 mini servings.