Cheese of the Week
The best of the best.
Dancing Ewe Farm Ricotta, Drizzled With Honey
Granville, NY is a tiny country town nestled in the valley between the Adirondack Mountains of New York and the Green Mountains of Vermont, and dotted with historic Victorian homes and rolling, rustic farmlands. It is the home of Dancing Ewe Farm, who make some of the best fresh cow's milk ricotta anywhere. Yes, that's right, cow's milk. Though the name of the farm proclaims otherwise, and though ricotta is sometimes made with sheep's milk, this stuff is pure bovine.
The soft, fluffy curds are shipped fresh in the basket in which they were drained, with an indication on the label as to when the batch was produced. The label on the one I tried on one recent Thursday indicated that it was made two days prior, on Tuesday. Now that is fresh ricotta, my friends. Because of this, the only place you can find this cheese is at Murray's retail counters (it is too difficult to ship). But lest that prevent you from procuring some, let me remind you: this ricotta cheese is some of the best you will ever taste. Curdy, milky, it would be a perfect addition to many pasta dishes, and with some honey drizzled on it (as pictured above), it makes an incredible dessert.
Available for $12.99/lb at Murray's Cheese, retail locations
All this talk of turkeys makes me think of...cheese! Nothing says fall like Vacherin Mont d'Or, a small washed rind round made in the Alps on both sides of the French/Swiss border. Also known as Vacherin du Haut-Doubs (but not to be confused with Vacherin Fribourgeois), it is traditionally made with late-season cow's milk that is too high in fat and protein content to make Comté or Gruyère. Because of this the cheese is aged for a much shorter period of time than Comté and Gruyère, and so peak ripeness is usually seen in the fall and winter months (October through March). At peak ripeness, the cheese is soft and runny, and is therefore wrapped in a spruce band and shipped in a circular wooden box. Since the cheese spends a fair amount of time in this environment, the wood lends a subtle flavor to the finished cheese. The golden rind, which still shows imprints from the cheesecloth used during production, hides a pale yellow, unctuous yet mild paste. The cow's milk used to make Vacherin Mont d'Or is typically raw, but since the cheese is only aged for three weeks, specimens found in the US are necessarily pasteurized. Enjoy with a Beaujolais Nouveau, another autumnal delight!
From New Jersey's Valley Shepherd Creamery comes this delectable washed-rind stinker made from the mixed raw milks of cows & sheep. The rectangular log has a white-ivory pâte with a soft and friable texture scattered with small holes. The taste is strongly mushroomy with a piquant, salty background.
Valley Shepherd Creamery sits on a farm of 120 acres in Long Valley, Morris County, NJ. They are extraordinarily prolific, offering 20 varieties of sheep, cow and mixed milk cheeses, as well as sheep's milk yogurt. From blues to bloomy-rinds to tommes, Valley Shepherd's offerings are truly
This week's featured cheese is a washed-rind Taleggio-style cheese made from the raw milk of Meadow Creek Dairy's herd of Jersey cows.
Located in the mountains of southwestern Virginia, Meadow Creek Dairy is a small family farm dedicated to sustainable agriculture. Using a system called intensive grazing management, Meadow Creek ensures that the herd is enjoying fresh pasture from Spring through Fall. This system of seasonal rotational grazing makes for cheese that
Cato Corner Farm, located 30 miles southwest of Hartford in Colchester, CT, produces some of the best artisanal raw cow's milk cheeses in the country. Run by a mother-son team, the farm has 30 Jersey cows that are raised on pasture without the use of hormones or subtherapeutic antibiotics.
Hooligan, which is only one of the many different varieties of cheese made at the farm, is a treat for all the senses. A stinky washed-rind cheese with a delicious mushroomy flavor, it comes in wheels that are
The hard thing about making aged cheeses is that the lessons you learn come many months after the mistakes you made. That's why it's important to take good notes so that when you finally taste the cheese you've made, you can either duplicate your process again or modify the things that may have caused any flaws.
You may remember that at the end of January, I blogged about three homemade (kosher!) Gruyère-style cheeses that were aging in my mini-fridge. The second-oldest of the three, made on January 17th, 2006, had too much rennet in it, which I assumed would make the cheese more bitter after a long period of aging. Normally this cheese is supposed to be aged for 5 months, but I decided to try it sooner than that, to make sure it wouldn't get too bitter.
I tried it at about the three month mark, and while it wasn't bitter, it also wasn't very flavorful either. The subtle flavor that it did have was good, but it was just too weak. I decided to try it again at the four month mark, which is around now. The flavor has definitely improved greatly, with the
Murray's Cheese is showcasing its selection of Spanish cheeses this month, and Ibores, produced in the Extremadura and name-protected under the "Denominación de Origen" (D.O.) label, is certainly one of the best. Ibores is made from the raw milk of the Retinta and Verata breeds of goats, and features a semi-firm paste scattered with small eyeholes. Its subtle goatiness blends beautifully with a sweet grassy character and a delicate bitterness. The rind on an Ibores can vary; some are natural (white/yellow), while some are rubbed with olive oil and/or paprika.
Burrata is a luscious, fresh cheese from Southern Italy, made from buffalo or cow's milk. Burrata is essentially unspun mozzarella curds mixed with fresh cream ("burro" is Italian for butter) stuffed into sheets of pulled mozzarella. This little pouch is then wrapped in leaves of the Asphodelus ramosus (an herb with leaves similar to leeks). Usually served with sliced tomatoes, basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, burrata is a uniquely delicious experience.
Available seasonally from the Bedford Cheese Shop
Continuing with the Mediterranean theme, the Cheese of the Week this week is Kefalograviera, a deliciously salty sheep's milk cheese from Northern Greece/Western Macedonia. First produced in the 1960s, the cheese is aged for roughly three months and the pale yellow pâte has scattered pea-sized holes. Combine with tomatoes, olives and capers in a salad, or fry it up to make Saganaki.
In honor of Passover, the cheese of this week is Tnuva's Feta-Style Sheep’s Cheese, made in Israel from cow's or sheep's milk. This briny cheese is kosher for Passover (as are most kosher cheeses) and crumbles nicely for salads.
I will be away from a computer for the next several days, so the blog will be on hold. Happy Passover and Easter everybody!