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 25, 2011
Estero Gold is a cheese with charms so subtle, they can be easily missed. During our tasting, we found Estero Gold’s flavors pleasant, yet too laid back to command our attention. Estero Gold’s casualness is part of its charm, but it does not make a compelling cheese.
Estero Gold is a firm cheese, farmstead produced locally by Valley Ford Cheese Co. in Valley Ford, California. It is made from raw cow’s milk and is inspired by Swiss Italian cheeses. Estero Gold is aged for approximately 4 months before market.
Estero Gold has a rich spun-gold appearance. The interior paste is deep golden yellow flecked with small holes. Estero Gold has a natural golden rind that shows impressions and folds from what appears to be a cloth wrap. Both the rind and paste are smooth and solid to the touch.
Estero Gold has a delicious aroma of melted butter and cheese.
Estero Gold has subtle flavors that are relatively mild and reminiscent of melted Asiago. It begins with a buttery rich flavor and finishes with a light nuttiness. The nuttiness has a little prickliness to it that may cause a tingling sensation in the mouth. It has a little milky sourness, but this flavor is not pronounced. Estero Gold has a firm chewy texture and leaves a long mildy nutty after-taste.
We thought Estero Gold a pleasant cheese, but its flavors were too subtle to hold our attention. My juvenile tasters found Estero Gold too acidic in the mouth; both complained of “mouth prickles.” While Estero Gold did not have strong enough flavor to make it a compelling snacker, we thought it would make a good melting cheese (Valley Ford Cheese Co. suggests Estero Gold is good for this purpose).
Purchase Notes: We purchased Estero Gold at Cowgirl Creamery (San Francisco).
March 17, 2011
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 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).
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.
February 24, 2011
Browning Gold is a humble cheese. At the cheese counter, it does little to differentiate itself from other aged cheddars. Yet what it lacks in visual intrigue, it makes up for in flavor. Browning Gold offers warmth and sweetness, and seems a natural fit for a casual intimate gathering. More importantly, Browning Gold retired my family’s bias against aged cheeses.
Browning Gold is a hard, cheddar-style cheese produced by 5 Spoke Creamery in Westchester County, New York. It is farmstead produced with raw cow’s milk and cave-aged for 24 months before market. The cheese is produced in a large brick format; each cheese weighs about 10 pounds.
Browning Gold looks as if it has been wrapped in a white paper skin. The rind’s surface molds give the exterior a velvety feel. The interior paste is the color of pale straw, darkening to nutmeg at the rind. To the touch, the paste is solid and a bit greasy.
Browning Gold has a musty aroma. Its rind smells like fresh earth and mushrooms. Its interior paste has a baked cheese cracker scent.
Browning Gold has deep flavor and marked sweetness. Its flavors are strongest at the start, then mellow while chewing. Its dominant flavors are a warm nuttiness and pineapple sweetness. The cheese also has a some sourness. It leaves a mild aftertaste.
The cheese has a moist and crumbly texture in the mouth. Browning Gold breaks into pebble-sized morsels on the tongue, encouraging one to savor the cheese.
With its sweeter profile, Browning Gold was an easy sell at our table. One juvenile taster commented that it tasted like a sweet and savory sauce. We all liked this cheese a lot. The day after our tasting, there was a hasty scramble for the remaining cheese.
Browning Gold is a superb stand-alone cheese. Its crumbly texture demands slow eating and seems ideal for a casual gathering. It would be fantastic on a day hike, camping or as an everyday cheese.
Purchase Notes: I purchased Browning Gold at Cowgirl Creamery (San Francisco). The cheesemonger commented that Browning Gold is available occasionally.
February 17, 2011
Stinking Bishop is an unforgettable cheese. Long after eating, its robust flavors linger in the mouth and its stinky perfume clings to one’s fingers. Stinking Bishop is a delicious stinker, but one has to ignore its odor to enjoy this fine cheese.
Stinking Bishop is a soft cow’s milk cheese produced by Laurel Farm in Gloucestershire, England. During its production, Stinking Bishop’s curds are washed with a locally produced pear cider (called perry) before the cheese is placed into molds. As they mature, whole cheeses are dipped in perry every few weeks. The cheese is aged for up to 2 months before market.
Stinking Bishop has the soft pastel colors of Spring. The exterior rind is melon orange with tints of rose and yellow. The rind has a tight grid pattern and is tacky to the touch. The interior paste is creamy and the color of banana cream pie. The paste has many irregular shaped holes; it is pliable and gluey.
Stinking Bishop has a reputation as a super stinker: it is much deserved. Stinking Bishop has a pungent odor that is off-putting. My kids likened the rind’s aroma to a cow’s posterior. The interior paste smells wheaty, like freshly baked bread.
Stinking Bishop is distinctly savory, but is surprisingly sweet and nutty. Its has a long sour flavor, but this is given balance by a light nuttiness and fruity sweetness. Stinking Bishop leaves a long smoky sour after-taste that encourages more eating. The cheese has a creamy rich texture and excellent mouth feel.
Stinking Bishop split out tasters generationally. The adults appreciated Stinking Bishop’s robust flavors, while the juvenile tasters struggled with its pungent odor and strong flavors. Although we all liked this cheese, Stinking Bishop held more appeal with the adults.
Stinking Bishop is a good cheese for a special occasion or to share with family and friends; it is not a cheese to spring on an unsuspecting guest. Its aroma may deter eating.
Purchase Notes: We purchased Stinking Bishop at Say Cheese (San Francisco).
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.