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North American Cheeses - Cheese of the Month (October 2013)

In 2011, The American Cheese Society in conjunction with John Hickenlooper, the Governor of the State of Colorado, proclaimed October as American Cheese Month, “ a celebration of North America’s delicious and diverse cheeses, and the farmers, cheesemakers, retailers, cheesemongers, and chefs who bring them to your table.” In honor of American Cheese Month 2013, I invite you to participate in the CHOW Cheese of the Month – American Cheeses.

The American cheese market has really grown in recent decades and there are innumerable wonderful cheeses being produced. To focus the discussion and learn the most from each other’s tasting experiences, I have selected a few categories and a select cheese within each category as the inspiration of an “American cheese plate,” if you will. Of course, if another cheese within these categories catches your eye (or your tongue), please feel free to explore and share your thoughts here.

THE CHEESES:

1. Hard cheese: Clothbound cheddar – Cheddar is a hard, sharp cheese which originates from the Somerset County Village of Cheddar in Southwest England. It is produced via a process called cheddaring which involves cutting the curd into blocks, which are then turned and stacked at the bottom of the cheese vat at intervals of ten to fifteen minutes for 1.5 hours. The milk is then set, cut, cooked lightly and allowed to mat at a warm temperature. The cheese is then aged as a block or in a cloth. In contrast to block cheddar, Clothbound cheddar aka “English” cheddar is shaped into cylinders which are wrapped in permeable cheesecloth and aged in environmentally-controlled caves. These cheeses are usually earthier than block Cheddars with hearty, toasty, and nutty flavors.

FLORY'S TRUCKLE - MILTON CREAMERY www.miltoncreamery.com/cheese/florys-...
A clothbound cheddar which is made from the raw milk of Flory’s jersey cows. The curds are wrapped in cloth-lined truckles (= cylinder shapes), aged for 60 days on wooden shelves, and then transported to Iowa where they are aged for 12 months in a specially designed facility. It has a salty, caramel flavor like Gouda with grassy notes.

*Other suggestions:

Cabot Clothbound – Cabot Creamery www.cellarsatjasperhill.com/index.php...

Flagship Reserve - Beecher’s Hand Made Cheese www.beechershandmadecheese.com/home.aspx

Bandage Wrapped Cheddar - Fiscalini Farmstead www.fiscalinicheese.com/cheeses.php

2. Soft-ripened cheese – These cheeses are ripened from outside in, very soft and often runny at room temperature. The most common soft-ripened cheeses have a white, bloomy rind that is sometimes flecked with red or brown. The rind is edible and is produced by spraying the surface of the cheese with a special mold called Penicillium candidum before the brief aging period. This category includes Brie and Camembert styles, Camembert, and triple crèmes.”

NANCY'S HUDSON VALLEY CAMEMBERT - OLD CHATHAM SHEEPHERDING COMPANY
www.blacksheepcheese.com/nancys-hudso...
A camembert-style meltingly creamy cheese, named after the co-owner of the company, made from a blend of Old Chatham sheep’s milk and cow’s milk. The texture is semi-soft in the center, and smoother and softer just under the rind becoming runnier with age. Smooth and buttery flavor, like very rich ice cream notes of hay, grass and savory vegetal.

*Other suggestions:

Mt. Tam – Cowgirl Creamery
Triple crème, www.cowgirlcreamery.com/library-of-ch...

Truffle Tremor – Cypress Grove
Flavored, goat, www.cypressgrovechevre.com/our-cheese...

Harbison - Jasper Hill
www.cellarsatjasperhill.com/index.php...

Traditional Brie - Marin French Cheese www.marinfrenchcheese.com/#cheeses

3. Sheep’s milk cheese: Sheep’s milk cheeses are characteristically rich and earthy with grassy aromas and savory flavors. Sheep’s milk cheeses comprise a smaller fraction of the cheese market in the US as compared to Europe, but the availability of pure sheep’s milk and mixed sheep’s milk cheeses is growing rapidly.

VERANO - VERMONT SHEPHERD
www.vermontshepherd.com/our-cheeses
A natural rind cheese, produced only during the spring and summer, which is aged 4 to 8 months on wooden boards in the Vermont Shepherd aging caves. The cheese is available from August until the supply is exhausted

*Other suggestions:

Dante - Wisconsin Sheep Dairy Cooperative
www.sheepmilk.biz

4. Blue cheese: Blue cheeses can be classified into all categories of cheese, except fresh cheeses. They are distinguished as cheeses that have distinctive blue/green veining, created when spores of Penicillium roqueforti, Penicillium gorgonzola or Penicillium glaucum, which are added during the cheesemaking process, are exposed to air. The mold provides a distinct flavor to the cheese

RIVER BLUE AND CAVEMAN BLUE - ROGUE CREAMERY
www.roguecreamery.com

River Blue, Rogue Creamery
www.roguecreamery.com/store/content/1...
A blue cheese wrapped in grape leaves that have been macerated in pear brandy. Its forward, well-aged flavor tastes of brandy, fruit and burnt cream with a creamy, crunchy-smooth texture. Flavors include hints of sweet pine, wild ripened berries, hazelnuts, morels and pears. The cheese is made during the autumnal equinox and before the winter solstice from Brown Swiss and Holstein cow’s milk and aged a minimum of 9 months.

Caveman Blue, Rogue Creamery
www.roguecreamery.com/store/product/2...
A rich, complex blue, aged a minimum of 6 months, that is a deliciously sweet and fruity with slight vanilla tones and a texture of butter and crystal with tastes of sweet, buttermilk with nuances of beef and bacon, tropical fruit, and hay.

*Other suggestions:

Two-faced blue – Willapa
www.willapahills.com

Maytag - Maytag Dairy Farms
www.maytagdairyfarms.com

Other sites of possible interest:

www.culturecheesemag.com
www.cheesesociety.org
www.americancheesemonth.org, http://www.facebook.com/AmericanChees...
www.culturecheesemag.com

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  1. This will be fun! I have known John since well before he entered politics. Factoid: he owns the Cherry Cricket in Cherry Creek, home of the best bowl of green chili anywhere. I'll be back with cheese.....:)

    1. Good a reason as any to be digging deeper into sheep's milk cheese. I'll be baa baa back :)

      1. Wanting to see what availability might be at a regular ol' supermarket, I just got back from Nob Hill in Salinas. It's part of the Raley's and Bel Air chain in Northern California. There was more blue cheese in standard supermarket pack than I expected: Roth Käse Moody Blue, Emmi Roth Buttermilk Blue, Point Reyes Original Blue, Salemville Amish Blue (wedges and crumbles), and Faribault Amablue. Last time I tasted them side-by-side, I preferred the Buttermilk Blue to Point Reyes.

        I had expected to pick up the Marin French Traditional Brie. Not here. But what was available from this Petaluma, CA producer included Camembert, Breakfast Cheese, and Triple Cream Brie. The brie has a best by date of Oct 28, so I bought one to put aside for a few weeks to report on later in the month. The back label describes how maturity relates to the date. It was on price reduction, dropped to $9.99.

         
         
        18 Replies
        1. re: Melanie Wong

          I like the Buttermilk Blue a lot, too, and the price-value is hard to beat!

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Well, Buttermilk Blue is made from 100% Jersey milk, that higher butterfat content makes it hard to beat the mouthfeel...
            TC loves Moody Blue, which is their (RothKase) smoked blue...

            1. re: galleygirl

              Buttermilk Blue is my favorite for blue cheese dressing: I love the texture and balanced flavor and the price is right.

              1. re: teezeetoo

                And a real bacillium roqueforti culture, too..
                To add a little history, the man who started Roth Kase was a retired cheese importer...He decided that the area of Wisconsin near the Great Lakes has the same kind of terroir (in this case, soil composition and limestone underlay) as a lot of the cheese producing areas of Europe, and decided to prove it by doing European style cheeses there...Saves you that airfare!

                1. re: teezeetoo

                  Okay, I gottah jump in with a category two, a semi-ripened cows' milk cheese from Vermont Farmstead Cheeses. A fairly new company (2009) that started by taking back a parcel of land destined for development, and making European style cheeses there, while they keep their cows across the road...
                  Anyway; Lillé is their take on a French-style Coulommiers-type cheese...They make one closer to a crottin size , tho it's 7 ounces, and it is FABULOUS when you let it age a few months, go about a month before the sell-by date...The same creamy texture that you usually find in riped goat cheeses, like Coupole, to cite another Vermont Cheese, but cows' milk...I had a ripe one of these next to a ripe Coupole a few months ago (it was summer, and a humid 90 degree day is my favorite time to eat cheese!) and everyone was swooning...

                  1. re: teezeetoo

                    I agree, I often use it for dressing. I think I'm gonna taste and then use either the Dunbarton or 2 Faced blue in a dressing this week.

                  2. re: galleygirl

                    Hey galleygirl, long time since we've been on a thread together. Glad to see you on this board.

                    I first had Buttermilk Blue at the big annual ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates & Producers) tasting in San Francisco a few years ago. It's a raw milk cheese to boot. The regular version is aged for a minimum of two months. But I've just read about an affinee version that's aged for six months.
                    http://www.rothcheese.com/products/bu...

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      I didin't even realize we HAD a cheese board!!
                      Haven't had that aged BBLue yet...Wannah hear something sinful? Mix BBlue, about 2-3 parts, to one part softened cultured butter, and schmear on baguette, and put it under the broiler...

                      1. re: galleygirl

                        Not sinful. That's the Sunday sacrament at the Church of Blue Cheese.

                        1. re: galleygirl

                          I've added some bacon to that mix and it's delicious

                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                            I made a bacon blue cheese souffle once, and it was delicious!

                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                              This board challenges my calory limits. I love the bacon idea. I'm going to stick to my mantra: real cheese has no calories. Low-fat cheeses (except for real goat which is almost sinless) are bad for your health. I'm with Galleygirl: the cheese board is new to me and an exciting discovery.

                              1. re: teezeetoo

                                Wow, why did I never think of that "real cheese has no calories." I'm joining you.

                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                  Only counts if you are standing while you eat the cheese.

                                2. re: teezeetoo

                                  That's not completely ridiculous: it takes less high-quality cheese to satisfy you and you buy it in smaller quantities, so you're likely to consume fewer calories.

                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                    Don't worry about the calories from gourmet cheese. I am of the opinion that excess sugar is far more unhealthy and more responsible for the obesity epidemic. Remember that grass fed cows have more omega 3 fatty acids that are good for health. And fat makes you feel full so you eat less. And Ruth is right, we tend to eat smaller portions of high quality cheeses. So if you indulge in high quality cheese once in a while it's not a bad thing especially if you eat lots of veggies and avoid excess sugar.

                                    1. re: Ridge

                                      Not to stray too far, but I eat up all the fat and protein I want, sugar and I have never been very friendly. I totally agree, I wanted to eat more of that Pleasant Ridge last week but alas I was saturated, ate way less than I ever have of the lower fat varieties. Also they tend to be more flavorful so a little goe sa long way. I think we're all in good company accepting that cheese is OK :)

                              2. re: galleygirl

                                Oh, and welcome to cheese-hounding! Please take a look around. Many older threads have been moved here and they're still relevant. Do start some new ones and tell us about your discoveries. And please help us recruit some Boston 'hounds.

                        2. Well done!

                          Just a tiny correction, that should be "Rogue River Blue" by Rogue Creamery. An amazing cheese -- this year's release should be available now.

                          A couple of other American blues I really like are Bayley Hazen blue from Jasper Hill and Tiger Blue from Poplar Grove Cheese in British Columbia (for our cheese-loving Canadian chowhounds -- it doesn't seem to be distributed in the US).

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                            You are quite right re: Rogue River Blue...oops.

                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                              I seem to be in a Category 4 Blue Cheese rut . . . not that I'm complaining. Needing a great blue to go with a special wine for a birthday party, I bypassed everything in Farmstead Cheese & Wine's display counter to ask for the seasonal Rogue River Blue. And indeed a fresh wheel had just arrived and none was on display yet. Watching the cheesemonger release it from the plastic shipper, I was struck again by how beautifully this Syrah grape leaf-wrapped cheese presents.

                              Later at room temperature, the paste turned soft and creamy with some crunchy crystals. Not as intense in the blue character as examples I've had in past years, this seemed a little less mature. Still wonderful all round though with the lovely fruity notes and hazelnut quality. As much as I love this cheese, it is $42 per pound and not one that I will reach for other than very special occasions like this one.

                              I bought Roman hazelnuts to accompany this cheese and the Tokaji Aszu, and they were a great accompaniment. As it turned out, our hostess had brought back hazelnuts from Piemonte, so we were able to have nut taste-off too.

                               
                               
                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                Agree with you about the Rogue River Blue. Tasted it tonight and it was good but not exceptional. I am writing up my tasting notes for tonight.

                            2. looking forward to this month's cheeses-

                              i will be looking for oka- a favorite of mine

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: jpr54_1

                                Did you find any oka, jpr54_1? I did, in my cheese drawer in the fridge :-). I always feel better if there is a wedge of it on hand. The piece I had was smallish and not too ripe but not bland either. The texture is one of my favourites in cheese land, not hard but not soft. Since I was noshing on my own, I did cut off the rind but the flavour was still pronounced enough. Although I often enjoy the paste of wash rind cheeses, I sometimes balk a the slight sandiness/graininess in the rind.

                                I like oka just a tiny bit colder than many other cheeses, as it tends to sweat a bit at room temp, and lose the texture I seek. That might explain why I don't like it melted on or in things either. Oka is an original Canadian cheese, and one the I am proud of as a Canuck.

                                1. re: grayelf

                                  Whole Foods did not have any yesterday.

                              2. Category 4. Blue --- Maytag blue cheese

                                Purchased yesterday at Star Market in Salinas, $16.59/lb. I grabbed the small cut wedge shown in the photo, just right to add to a salad.

                                Left on the kitchen counter to warm up to room temperature, the cheese became quite soft and creamy, creamier than I remember this cheese. Not that pungent, and on the palate the blue flavor of the penicillium roqueforti was in the middle tones. What did stand out though was a shrill tartness that overtook the salt level and blue character. I was glad I'd planned to add this to a salad and not stand-alone on a cheese plate.

                                So into a chopped salad it went with olives, hard-cooked eggs, sweet red pepper, scallions, red onions, tomatoes, and romaine to be just another flavorant. The faint sweetness of the balsamic vinaigrette helped moderate the wallop of acid.

                                It's been awhile since I've last had Maytag blue and recall liking it more than this. I'd be interested in hearing from others who've had it more recently.

                                I'm hoping to taste and report on at least one from each of the four categories this month, if not more.

                                 
                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                  I've had it recently as well and I agree with some of your thoughts. It is quite soft and creamy and melts like a champ, but I'll save that argument for another thread. I think I enjoy it because of the hint of tartness as I'm a bitter-vinegar-loving crazy person but it definitely is my choice of blue to mix into things as the blue flavor is not very complex or strong. I used it in a pot of mussels and it added a nice background blue flavor without being overwhelming. I specifically choose it for when I want a background hint with a the strong pungency and after taste that other blues leave me with. It's not my first go to for this purpose though, I really prefer Point Reyes for a milder blue. I've tried the Rogue River blue many moons ago so I'm excited to try that one and the Caveman. My local cheese shop is hosting American Cheese Month as well and have pretty much everything in stock and offering a discount on it all as well...I'm in trouble.

                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                    When Maytag premiered many years back, they aged the cheese perfectly and released it mature. Since it has become more popular, it never seems to be aged enough and as a result has a, for me, unpleasant acidic tang. Regretfully you cannot age a chunk so we are stuck.

                                    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                      Thank you, that makes sense. In 1996, I was commuting to the Twin Cities weekly, and Maytag was readily available at Byerly's for less than at home and I had it often at that time. My recollection is of a firmer and stronger cheese. Then this new tanginess came out of left field. I was wishing I'd remembered to buy a bottle of Anchor Steam to have with my meal to redeem the Maytag family reputation.

                                  2. I have a question related to the "cheese of the month" adventure. Often, I just want to bring home a small taste and not a large chunk of cheese particularly when I'm buying multiple and haven't been lucky enough in the stock market to spend an arm and a leg. However, whenever I seem to request less than a 1/4 lb, I get the look of annoyance. perhaps it's because I'm not the most knowledgeable cheese person and this poses a problem for other customers or cutting issues or something that I'm not aware of. Do you feel OK requesting just a few servings of a cheese? Sometimes I just need an 1/8.

                                    12 Replies
                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                      i always ask for a small piece-
                                      whole foods and the cheese course in adventura, fl. will custom cut most cheeses.

                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                        I think it's just that, depending on the shape of the cheese, cutting less than a 1/4 pound is harder work for a smaller sale.

                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                          Yea I guess so, it's usually off a round so I imagine it's hard although I always wonder why the wedge can't then be bisected longitudinally. I guess I'll save up for cheese :) This is a cheese of the month I'm really into especially as I'm just starting to spread my cheese wings.

                                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                                            I'm looking forward to reading about your experiences. Can I just say, though, that it would be nice if you had a screen name that was pronounceable so I could reference them?

                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                              This isn't the first time I've heard this and I sort of apologize. It's just an old name I've used for decades so convenient to me. I would change it but rather not start over. Some people refer to me as "fieldhawk" or just "fld."

                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                Just realized looking it over that the handle is easily remembered/pronounced as 'field hockey, born in Virginia' ...

                                                Am I on the right track?

                                                1. re: ellabee

                                                  Wow, I am shocked! I've had this username for nearly everything for nearly a decade and you are one of few, perhaps the only person who has ever put it together. However, I wasn't born in Virginia but my field hockey habit was. A+

                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                    We're oppo-doppelgangers of a sort, then: I was born in Virginia, but my brief, enforced exposure to field hockey (in Pennsylvania) was definitely not habit-forming. <g>

                                        2. re: fldhkybnva

                                          When l worked at a small but popular cheese shop, the thing that would screwup our selling was a person who came in on a very busy Saturday and ordered small bits of many cheeses. We had no precut and all was cut to order.
                                          Thus an order that took 10-15 minutes to prepare would net us 5-10 dollars while many, many people were forced to wait.
                                          This may sound crass but we were a business and most of the income, over half, came on Saturday. A ' quarter pound person' was not helpful to us. On empty days sure, but they never seemed to come then.
                                          If you are a store that precuts and wraps in plastic wrap, never to be seen by me as it kills the product, to take a small wedge and then cut again means generally the small remainder will eventually be trashed as not attractive to other customers.

                                          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                            It makes sense. I have never walked out of a cheese store with anything less than $15 for even 2 cheeses (unless I've stalked the cheese ends at Whole foods) so perhaps my volume requests aren't that troublesome.

                                          2. re: fldhkybnva

                                            We'd definitely encourage you to ask for whatever size portion you'd like to buy, or just ask for a sample if you're not sure you'll like a particular cheese. Some retailers (Whole Foods Market is a good example) also sell very small portions of some interesting cheeses, already wrapped, at their cheese counters, and you can find some fun surprises if you look through those selections.

                                            1. re: amcheesesociety

                                              Thanks for the tips, I finally found a great cheese shop which completely understands smaller size requests. When I ask for enough for a single tasting, it usually ends up being 1/8 of a lb which is fine with me. I love browsing the cheese ends at Whole Foods. You not only find new favorites, but also old favorites in smaller portion to use up quickly.

                                          3. Back from first cheese scouting at Earthfare. Came home with:

                                            Beechers flagship reserve - raw milk version (cat 1)
                                            Marin French cheese Camembert (category 2)
                                            Jasper hill farm Moses sleeper (cat 2)

                                            Looking forward to reporting back when I have a chance to try them!

                                            1. I love your list. May I add Pennsylvania Noble to the cheddars and suggest the super goat's milk, Humboldt Fog. We're rocking the cheese world in the USA.

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: teezeetoo

                                                Very true, bring it on! Suggestions are welcome, although Ridge, Melanie and I thought the list of particular cheeses would help focus so we can actually discuss but please by all means taste away and let us know what you find!

                                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                  That's a good point. We could save Humboldt Fog for a whole American goat cheese month.

                                                  1. re: teezeetoo

                                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/915381

                                                    Looks like you might have missed the Cheese of the Month - September where we tried covering some varieties of goat cheese.
                                                    I hope you'll contribute to the thread.

                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                      I've just recently discovered it and I'm enjoying it very much. I'm looking forward to learning from all of you and sharing what I love.

                                                      1. re: teezeetoo

                                                        Welcome! I look forward to reading your comments.

                                              2. i just purchased at whole foods
                                                saxons creamery big ed's
                                                saxon's creamery snowfields
                                                metropolitan brie 70%(not sure what the 70%means)

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: jpr54_1

                                                  Means cheese is a triple creme, or just below triple

                                                  1. re: jpr54_1

                                                    Any opinions to report on these cheeses?

                                                  2. I know that depending on where you live you may not have a good store availble to purchase these cheeses. I strongly encourage those with limited access to good cheese stores to look online. One source used by some people here is igourmet:

                                                    http://www.igourmet.com/

                                                    I did a quick look for some of the cheeses and many but all are available through this site. I will do a more thorough look this weekend when I have more time. If people find online sources for the cheeses please post them. Looking forward to trying these yummy made in the USA cheeses.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: Ridge

                                                      In my research to post this thread, I discovered that most are available either directly through the company, igourmet and also Murray's cheese seems like a great source.

                                                      1. re: Ridge

                                                        I've never mail-ordered cheese before, so I'm curious how my igourmet purchase will work out. One disadvantage is that the minimum seems to be half a pound per cheese, which is a lot of a cheese you've never tasted before!

                                                        As someone noted in another thread, it you have a Shoprunner membership the shipping from igourmet is free (although they do tack on $4.99 for an insulated container). It's possible to get a Shoprunner membership at no cost. I signed up for the one-month free trial, and then when I tried to cancel it they offered me a three-month free trial, and then they offered a year free if I made three purchases before the three months were up, and then they offered me a free membership by registering my AmEx card.

                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                          My cheese came today, as scheduled. It came packed with freezer packs in a styrofoam box. Each piece is vacuum-sealed, and the soft cheeses were wrapped in regular plastic wrap underneath. They all appear to be in excellent condition; out of curiosity I weighed them, and all were at least eight ounces, and a couple were over nine ounces. I wouldn't hesitate to buy from them again if there was a specific cheese I wanted I couldn't source locally.

                                                      2. We tried two of our cheeses last night - both were fabulous:

                                                        Beechers flagship reserve truckle, raw milk ($30/lb) - seriously like butter. I have never been a big cheddar fan, but I loved this cheese. Ate it on an apple.
                                                        http://culturecheesemag.com/cheese-li...

                                                        Jasper Hill Moses Sleeper: mild and buttery and delicious. This one never even made it onto a cracker - just ate it off the knife. I thought it tasted mushroomy but the internet informs me I am incorrect. This was the only cheese from jasper hill available at my grocery. I am definitely not a qualified cheese taster.... Will hit up the specialty cheese stores next to see if I can find other cheeses from this producer.
                                                        http://www.culturecheesemag.com/chees...

                                                        I also purchased Marin French Cheese Camembert, but according to the label it will be best at the end of October. Will report on this one then.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: EmBrooks

                                                          You sound like a qualified cheese taster to me!

                                                          1. re: EmBrooks

                                                            If you like soft ripened cow's milk cheeses, do try Jasper Hill's Harbison (mentioned in the excellent OP). I like it enormously and think it holds its own nicely against comparable French soft cheeses. It will give you another taste of the Jasper Hill style.

                                                          2. I picked up a cheese this morning because I've been looking for it for a while now and spotted it out of the corner of my eye. It's not on the list but quite American. Sartori BellaVitano Gold - It's a mix between Cheddar and Parmesan, reminds me of a less complex and aged Dubliner, nutty and buttery.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                              this is a nicely flavored cheese! - Fairway has it in NY quite a bit of the time (Wisconsin, I think)

                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                The cheesemonger offered me a taste of the BellaVitano Balsamic Reserve today. This has a waxy, oily and firm texture. It's soaked in balsamic vinegar, and even a shaving from the center core has a bit of sweet-tanginess to it.

                                                                http://www.sartoricheese.com/products...

                                                                 
                                                              2. My cheese haul for tonight includes Florey's Truckle, Verano Vermont Shepherd and Pleasant Ridge Reserve. I couldn't get myself out of my usual hard cheese mode, but the others are on the line up the next 3 weeks.

                                                                1. Prairie Breeze Cheddar, Milton Creamery -- I think it's not clothbound, but it is a small American (Iowa) producer. The reviews describe the flavor profile as being a combination of cheddar and Emmentaler, but when I opened it, the aroma said "gouda." I'd describe the flavor as being medium-aged gouda -- sweet and nutty -- with a bit of cheddar tang and some Emmentaler grassy notes on the finish. The texture is very smooth -- not as crumbly as cheddar. Overall, I'd say this is an excellent cheese I'd be happy to eat and proud to serve, but somehow not very exciting or compelling.

                                                                  Borgonzola (Canadian blue). A blued camembert-style cheese similar to Cambazola. The blue flavor was very mild, but the camembert flavor was quite good. The piece I got from igourmet was at a nice stage of ripeness, slightly oozy in the center. I thought the base cheese was better than regular blue-label cambazola, but the blue could have been stronger. Not as good as the cambazola black label I finally tracked down a few weeks ago.

                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                    Kunik from Nettle Meadow, NY -- a soft-ripened cheese made from goat's milk and jersey cream. Very rich. Texture reminded me of Humboldt Fog, oozy right under the rind. Complex flavor.

                                                                    Browning Gold from 5 Spoke Creamery, New York -- I tasted it and thought, "this is what the Prairie Breeze was lacking." In some ways it's a similar flavor profile and texture, and some reviewers categorized is as an aged (24 month) cheddar). But it has a funkiness that gives it an extra dimension, and a few crystals to give it crunch. Outstanding.

                                                                    Mountaineer from Meadow Creek Dairy, Virginia -- another interesting cheese. Supposedly inspired by Alpine cheeses like Fontina and Beaufort, it has the supple texture similar to those cheeses, but a stronger, concentrated flavor, toasted and nutty. Although not mentioned in any discussion of the cheese, it had the distinctive odor of a washed-rind cheese when unwrapped.

                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                      The mountaineer sounds very very interesting. Will keep a lookout for it.

                                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                        When you described extra funkiness for the Browning Gold cheddar, I wondered if it were a cloth-bound type. I found Janet Fletcher's column that describes the method of production:

                                                                        " Browning Gold is even more enticing. I don't know of any other cheese made this way.

                                                                        Glustoff fashions the cheese in 40-pound blocks, which age in bags for a year, with limited exposure to air. Then they are quartered and sprayed with Penicillium candidum, the mold strain that produces a white bloom on the surface. The 10-pound blocks spend another year in an underground cellar before release, developing a natural rind dusted with powdery white mold and a creamy texture. "
                                                                        http://www.sfgate.com/food/cheesecour...

                                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                          Great to find another Mountaineer fan! It's "local" for us, and I'm looking forward to its arrival next month at the miraculous cheesemonger that opened in my little town (so scrupulous about quality and care that Neal's Yard sells to her despite the small size of the orders).

                                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                            Oh Ruth, the Kunik, the Kunik! I had it twice at Mission Cheese a couple of trips ago, it was so good. Drooling...

                                                                            1. re: grayelf

                                                                              Shall I hold on to it and swap what's left for some Tiger Blue?

                                                                            2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                              Celebrating the last day of North American Cheese Month with Kunik and some Virginia cider (Ragged Mountain from Albemarle Ciderworks).

                                                                              Kunik is glorious, gooey, at the perfect stage. Counting my blessings, which include the miraculous local cheese shop. And the little scarlet oak I planted 15 years ago, which is the only tree really blazing this year.

                                                                            3. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                              Prairie Breeze sounds very good. Will keep a lookout for it.

                                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                I usually eat fine cheeses plain, but I've bought so much in the last few months that I've had to come up with ways to use more of it. So I've been making quesadillas and toasted cheese sandwiches.

                                                                                The Prairie Breeze has turned out to be excellent for these purposes -- it melts easily and the heating seems to bring out more depth of flavor. Because of its easy melting I think it would be great in an omelette.

                                                                              2. I am back to report on the Verano -

                                                                                Long story, short, this cheese is an A in my book. The cheese has a hearty brown textured rind and is a soothing golden yellow similar to other grass-fed cheeses. The aroma reminds me of Oklahoma aka "farmy," like the fresh morning farm smells after a night rainfall that great you in the early morning with the hens. Its semi-firm, but creamy and grates like a champ. Overall I would describe the flavor as reminiscent of bright fresh floral grass with a hint of tang.
                                                                                I would overall describe is bright fresh floral grass with a hint of tang. I can’t stop eating this cheese. I only bought a 1/3 of a lb, and I must admit that it’s disappeared in 3 short days. I will definitely be buying this one again. It’s a nice alternative to my favorite sheep's milk cheese, Ossau Iraty. Its sweeter and not as earthy and gamey. I imagine the Invierno the winter version of this cheese from Vermont Shepherd might be more similar to Ossau.

                                                                                I was torn between Verano and Dante this week, so next week I'll definitely be tasting Dante.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                  I love it that the descriptors for cheese are as varied and as creative as those for wine!

                                                                                2. Haven't been able to make it over to the Berkeley Cheeseboard, my favorite cheese store and the one with the greatest selection. I picked up some cheeses to taste at the Davis Food Coop and Andronicos. I wasn't able to find any of the cheddars and some of the other cheeses, that will have to wait until next Saturday when I hope to go to the cheeseboard in Berkeley. If any Bay Area cheesies will be round Berkeley next Saturday maybe we can meet for an impromptu cheddar tasting at the cheeseboard?

                                                                                  The cheeses I got at the Davis Food coop and Andronicos are:

                                                                                  Marin French cheese traditional Brie. Wish I had remembered the posts about the date before I got home. According to the label the cheese will continue to age and will not be ripe until three weeks before the expiration date and not mature until a week before the exp date. Exp date on mine is Nov 26. So I will hold onto it till the end of October.

                                                                                  Cowgirl creamery mount Tam. I have had this before many times and really like it. I am going to save the Mount Tam a week or 2 to ripen more.

                                                                                  The 2 cheeses we did taste today are:

                                                                                  Woolwich Dairy triple creme Goat Brie from Ontario Canada. Not on the list but was intriguing. I have tried other goat Bries but don't think I have tasted this one before. Cheese was covered with white mold. The interior was completely liquid. Eating the cheese with the rind it had a pronounced musty flavor. It was better to just eat the liquid interior. The interior was somewhat Brie like, salty, mushrooms, goaty. All in all we liked this cheese but it was not our favorite. I found myself missing the tanginess and sharpness of the runny goat cheeses I like. And it was not as complex and rich as really high quality Brie. Probably would not buy it again.

                                                                                  Cypress grove Truffle Tremor. I have tried this before and enjoyed it. The rind was covered with mold. Just underneath the rind the was a liquid layer. I took a picture because it looked dramatic. The rind had an unpleasant bitter plasticky taste so we avoided eating the rind. The cheese was very good. Tangy, goaty, sharp. The truffle flavor was mild and unobtrusive and complemented rather than masked the cheese flavors. Very good and we might get this one again.

                                                                                   
                                                                                  23 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Ridge

                                                                                    Yesterday we tried Cypress Grove's Truffle Tremor for the first time. I can't put my finger on why I didn't enjoy it as much as I hoped to but I won't be buying it again.

                                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                                      I agree, I thought I was the only person who is not a fan of truffle tremor. I have never had a truffle cheese that I care for,...and I love both truffles and cheese!

                                                                                      1. re: EmBrooks

                                                                                        This is discouraging. I recently bought it on the OP's reco @ $30/lb, but I haven't tried it yet.

                                                                                        1. re: Veggo

                                                                                          Sorry V, I didn't want to disparage until we were well into October tasting. I bought a $4.00 piece at the cheese cave but I didn't taste it prior to buying because of the recommendation here.

                                                                                          I usually enjoy truffles and I adore cheese but this one just didn't wow me. I enjoy other cheeses made by CG. I'm glad I tried it but given the vast pool of choices, now I know I won't be buying this one again.

                                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                                            HillJ, I only have $11.55 invested in it. I have 6 other backups for tonight's cheese plate, all proven winners.

                                                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                                                              And l get invited to your parties when ?

                                                                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                Curious what other six make up the plate?

                                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                  I hauled them out and they are tumbling around my feet. Humboldt Fog, Mimolette, Saint Albray, Rogue River Oregon Blue, St Agur, and Taleggio. This Taleggio is ready!

                                                                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                    Oh good lordy what a haul. Delicious! Do you set out any nibbles to go with?

                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                      Usually calamata olives and an Orange-fig jam from Croatia I like. Sometimes my duck liver pate with soft cheeses. Crackers are important, I'm enjoying Sweet Onion flatbread crisps, and unflavored Water Wheel Wafers for the sexy stuff.

                                                                                                    2. re: Veggo

                                                                                                      I recently discovered St. Agur. So good, I really enjoyed it with fresh figs this fall! Your cheese plate sounds fantastic.

                                                                                                      1. re: EmBrooks

                                                                                                        I had a 7th, Prefere de nos Montagnes, but I ate the whole wedge at one sitting and it was so good I had to change my underwear.
                                                                                                        St. Agur is addictive.

                                                                                                        1. re: EmBrooks

                                                                                                          Oh my you two! Now I'm hungry. What a nice way to start the reading day.

                                                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                            Funny, before your post I unwrapped my taleggio and set it out to get to room temperature by lunchtime...

                                                                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                              :0) this whole thread has inspired about half a dozen cheese inclusive meals. The HillJ clan is screaming Uncle, Uncle but I'm loving these cheese lessons.

                                                                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                Nice that we cheese mice can chatter...about more than cheddar!

                                                                                                            2. re: HillJ

                                                                                                              Me too! The visual of great cheeses tumbling around in the kitchen made me get out the other half of my Harbison from the other night for lunch today. It is already oozing out on the cheese board. Yum!

                                                                                                  2. re: EmBrooks

                                                                                                    Try their purple haze, not truffle but lavender and wild fennel pollen, sounds very fru-fru but just excellent.

                                                                                                    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                                                      I've seen Purple Haze mentioned before, but I couldn't find it locally. Still looking. When we discussed goat cheeses I liked this one very much http://www.cypressgrovechevre.com/our...

                                                                                                      Being a goat cheese lover, I didn't expect to find one I didn't enjoy. Maybe it's that Truffle Tremor is a creamy/firm combo thing..

                                                                                                      1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                                                        http://www.cypressgrovechevre.com/rec...

                                                                                                        If I do stumble upon Purple Haze, I was hoping to give this savory cheesecake a try for book club.

                                                                                                        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                                                          Better late than never! Just found some Purple Haze. Comes i a 4oz package and is on the expensive side, but has a smooth delicate taste. Would be a nice surprise on a cheese board.

                                                                                                    2. re: Ridge

                                                                                                      I picked up a wheel of that goat brie today (it's on sale at the Union Square Whole Foods for $5/6.5 oz). I didn't find the rind overly musty, nor the interior quite so runny as you did. Maybe I got a younger cheese? It's pretty nice; the goatiness makes it a little more interesting than "regular" brie, but it's still milder than I like my cheeses, generally.

                                                                                                    3. Back to report on my other choices from last week -

                                                                                                      Pleasant Ridge Reserve -
                                                                                                      This was the favorite of the weekend by a slim margin over the Verano. When I bought it, the cheesemonger pointed out the rind which I probably otherwise would not have noticed. It's quite attractive - an oak brown smooth rind. The texture is semi-hard, and the cheese is pale-yellow like Land O' Lakes. Its very creamy reminds me of slowly melting warm caramel with crunch from occasional minute crystals. The taste reminds me of a cow's milk Verano. The flavor is less intense than the sheep's milk, but similar. The initial taste is similar to the overwhelming grassy aroma, but the finish is nutty like brown butter. It's fairly mild but has subtle hints of sharpness. Overall it reminded me of a creamy Gouda with nutty cashew flavors. It will be in my cart again this week.

                                                                                                      Florey's Truckle -
                                                                                                      This was my least favorite, although still a great cheese. The textured cloth rind reminds me of an old worn knapsack. The cheese is a rich golden yellow like beeswax with a firm, very crumbly texture. The aroma is moderately strong and reminded me of yeast as bread or beer. It was not particularly creamy with a dense texture that gives it some bite which is balanced by the crunch of prominent crystals. The dominant flavor is the strong herbiness of a grass-fed cheese with added flavors of rich caramel and roasted nuts. I think it would stand up to hearty dark beer. The finish is mildly sharp and striking a very fruity after taste, minutes after finish I was struck by lovely grape floral like taste. This was a nice contrast to the Cabot Clothbound. While this wasn't my favorite cheese, I enjoyed it much more than the Cabot which I'd likely not buy again but I'd definitely buy this again.

                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                        We also had the Florey's Truckle this week and the Harbison. The Harbison was perfectly ripe and was our favorite this week though my son-in-law found the bark gave the cheese a faint sweetness (maple bark maybe?)that he didn't care for. We had the Florey's Truckle with honey crisps from our orchard trip (spectacularly good apples!) and we compared it to the Cabot Clothbound. As with fldhkybnva's report, we preferred the Florey to the Cabot but my husband didn't think he'd be giving up his Montgomery from England for it. Still, a very good cheese and worth trying again.

                                                                                                        1. re: teezeetoo

                                                                                                          Try Fiscalini bandage wrapped cheddar. IMHO it is only one to give Montgomery a run for it's money.

                                                                                                          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                                                            thanks! never tried it and I'll look for it.

                                                                                                      2. Found Montamore (by Sartori, Wisc.) in the supermarket cheese bin yesterday. A firm fruity cheese similar to piave, it is eminently edible and less than half the cost of the Italian cheese. It's disappearing from the fridge rapidly, so I won't be able to tell you if it ever gets hard enough to grate!

                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: DonShirer

                                                                                                          In the Sartori family, I tried their Bellavitano Gold this weeekend. I really love their rendition Parmesan, this cheese was creamier and much fruitier. I much preferred their sharper Sarvecchio Parmesan-like cheese, if anyone can find it, it's worth a try.

                                                                                                          1. re: DonShirer

                                                                                                            In the interests of "truth in posting", I found (and bought) some Piave Vecchio today--it was only 140% the cost of the Montamore, not 200% (I was using an online price quote), but it didn't taste any better!

                                                                                                          2. Valley Shepherd Creamery, in New Jersey, makes some pretty excellent sheeps cheeses - several kinds. They have shops in Brooklyn and Philly but I'm not sure how widely distributed they are otherwise.

                                                                                                            1. We just tried the Cabot Clothbound. Thought it was good. It had crystals similar to gouda. On the salty side and slightly sharp. Nutty with good cow's milk flavor. We rarely get cheddar so it was a nice change for us. I think we would buy it again. I hope to get some more Clothbound cheddars next weekend to compare it to.

                                                                                                              1. Thanks for this thread, fldhkybnva.

                                                                                                                One of my favorite North American cheeses is Mobay from Carr Valley Cheese in Wisconsin. The name is a play on French 'Morbier', which it resembles in being different milks above and below an ash layer -- in the case of Mobay, sheep and goat.

                                                                                                                The subtly different creamy colors and the ash line make it a particularly attractive display for a cheese plate, and it's an enjoyable, instructive 'explorer' tasting for newbies: you can try the sheep layer alone, the goat alone, and then the combination -- all delicious.
                                                                                                                http://www.carrvalleycheese.com/artis...

                                                                                                                1. Should be a good cheese plate this weekend - I just picked up Cypress Grove Truffle Tremor, Humboldt Fog, and Rogue River Oregon Blue, my 3 US choices. Additionally, some French - Prefer de nos Montagnes, Mimolette (soon to disappear here), Saint Albray, and St. Agur blue. And a nice ripe Italian taleggio.

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. I will be back to report - this week's cheeses included Jasper Bayley Hazen, Reading Raclette and a few other non-American cheeses - P'tit Basque, red Leicester, and Secret de Compostelle (if your a sheep's milk fan I highly recommend this one).

                                                                                                                    8 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                      Another successful week of American cheeses -

                                                                                                                      Bayley Hazen - I love blue cheese, but this is quite possibly the best that I've tasted. In fact, I bought a wedge on Friday which quickly disappeared and returned to the store this morning to get more. The aroma is quite mild for a blue but overall nutty. The cheese has very prominent seafoam/blue gray veins and a lovely creamy and smooth texture. The blue flavor is present, but not overwhelming and balance by nutty cocoa hints. I really like the flavor as well as the lack of the metallic aftertaste that I tend to get when I eat blues. It will be the star of Ridge's blue cheese dressing to be used for a modified Cobb salad.

                                                                                                                      Reading Raclette - Raclette is one of my favorite cheeses and always in the fridge. I have only had the French-version and never thought that an American version could even compare, but the cheesemonger insisted I tasted it. My first impression was the texture of the cheese as he faced the wedge. It was incredibly creamy and folded on itself like icing. The Raclette I'm used to is more sliceable rather than scrapeable as classic Raclette is intended to be. It's nutty and rich like Raclette but this Vermont version was creamier and much richer in a good way.

                                                                                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                        I'm glad you like the Bayley Hazen. As I've noted before, it's one of my very favorite blues.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                          It's wonderful and for some reason I never noticed it at my local Whole Foods. I bought it Friday at a cheese shop but this morning saw it at Whole Foods and knew I just needed it. My favorite cheese counter employee commented "uh, it's been there forever." I have to remind myself to buy more at a time though since it has a rind unlike many other blues.

                                                                                                                        2. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                          French raclette is not a great product in my history. You want a Swiss raclette, which like a vacherin freibourg can be used to heat and make a traditional raclette.
                                                                                                                          Should you be able to find a Bagnes raclette, it will say bagnes on the rind, jump for it, it will be expensive but is the king of raclette.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                                                                              Great, thanks. I think it's French but I can double check.

                                                                                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                Not French, Swiss. My usual Raclette is de Savoie. It's a keep-in-the-house favorite so perhaps it's just this wheel. Are there others you recommend since we're on the topic?

                                                                                                                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                  You probably should start a new thread for discussing non-American raclette. If you flag your post you can ask the mods to move these posts to a new thread.

                                                                                                                        3. We tasted a bunch of cheeses tonight:

                                                                                                                          First the cheddars:

                                                                                                                          FLORY'S TRUCKLE - MILTON CREAMERY. We really enjoyed this and would buy it again. In my notes I wrote velvety texture with some crystals. Complex. Long aftertaste. We tried the Cabbot creamery version last week and may have liked that slightly more.

                                                                                                                          Bandage Wrapped Cheddar - Fiscalini Farmstead. We didn't like this one. It was kind of bland and nondescript.

                                                                                                                          Blues:

                                                                                                                          Rogue river blue. Good but not great. Not as complex and flavorful as past versions I remember trying.

                                                                                                                          Rogue river crater blue. Disappointing. Too mild and lacking in depth and complexity.

                                                                                                                          Maytag - Maytag Dairy Farms. More affordable and better tasting than the Rogue river cheeses. I was very surprised.

                                                                                                                          Along with the three domestic blues we tasted a raw sheep milk Roquefort that was on sale at the Berkeley cheeseboard. We liked it better than the domestic blues.

                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: Ridge

                                                                                                                            I wonder how long the seasonal supply of Rogue River Blue lasts. I'd kind of like to try it after the winter equinox, maybe for a New Year's Eve party, when we'd know that a wheel would be more than 12 months old. Maybe it just needs more age.

                                                                                                                            Was the Maytag sour/tangy?

                                                                                                                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                              Yes the Maytag had a slight sour/tanginess but not sharpness. I think the sour tang made it more interesting to us.

                                                                                                                          2. Category 1. Clothbound cheddar - Fiscalini bandage wrapped cheddar tasted today at Freestone Artisan Cheese in Freestone (Sonoma County).

                                                                                                                            Only a small piece was still left from the heart of the wheel and it had some cracks and bluing. I've not seen bluing on Fiscalini's cheddar before though I found this photo on Artisanal's site that almost looks like it might have a little in those shadows. I asked whether this was serendipitous or intentional. The cheesemonger said he considered it a fault. Since I like Montgomery cheddar and especially when it has a little bluing, I wanted to mention this.

                                                                                                                            The texture had a dense waxy quality to the bite, feeling oily and slick on the palate vs. the almost crumbly texture of Montgomery. Fiscalini showed a lot of earthy depth and fruity high notes, but mostly a rich butteriness. Not that complex and ending with a mellow, long-lasting finish.

                                                                                                                            $34.50/lb at Artisanal
                                                                                                                            http://www.artisanalcheese.com/Chedda...

                                                                                                                            $9.99/half-pound at igourmet
                                                                                                                            http://www.igourmet.com/shoppe/Fiscal...

                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                              If that is the case with Fiscalini, they are aging their bandaged wrap less, merde. Had an underaged chunk about 4-5 months ago and thought it was an aberration.
                                                                                                                              Perhaps not, as producers ger busier, they cannot keep product on the aging shelves as long as previously as orders come in., so put it out there and thus less good. Again hope this is temporary as one of my fav cheddars in the world.

                                                                                                                              Hopefully their San Joachin Gold is unchanged.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                                                                                Is the "case" you're reacting to my description of the texture? Seemed less aged to me.

                                                                                                                                What do you think about the cheesemonger's comments on the blue veins? I just found this piece about bluing in cheddar.
                                                                                                                                http://cheddarbound.blogspot.com/2009...

                                                                                                                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                  Have seen fiscalini many times with bluing, as well as many English cheddars.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                    I was at a well-respected cheese shop to demo some Quicke's Cheddar, fabulous English, clothbound, and the round was so blue that the monger, tho he couldn't reject it, had me send pictures back to the importer....A little bluing is one thing, but a lot of these bandage-wrapped cheeses have so much around the edges, that a substantial amount is lost when you have to just cut it off...

                                                                                                                                    1. re: galleygirl

                                                                                                                                      Thanks for an example from the field. I hadn't been aware it was considered a serious defect. But I guess with many folks not liking blue cheese and appearances have to count, so be it.

                                                                                                                              2. Category 3 & 4 crossover - Sheep's milk blue cheese, Ewelicious by Bleating Heart from Freestone Artisan Cheese.

                                                                                                                                Ruth posted about trying it at the Eat Real Festival last month in Oakland,
                                                                                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/918486

                                                                                                                                I found the texture of the paste quite luscious and creamy with just a bit of crumbling in the blue veins. Medium-strong in blue intensity with some sheep-ish pungency and bold salting. I wonder if this wheel was from the same lot that Ruth tried, just advanced another two weeks. I like this cheese, but it's not up to Roquefort standards.

                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                1. Tried the Harbison tonight. Another winner...super creamy and oozy.

                                                                                                                                  I have a question about the Marin French Cheese Co Camembert I purchased. The sell by date is November 4 so the cheese will be mature the last week of October but is considered ripe now. Will I mess up its progression to maturity if I cut into it now to try it at various stages of ripeness? It's no big deal to leave it whole for another couple weeks, but for my own cheese education I thought it would be nice to try a piece now and one at peak ripeness. Thanks!

                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: EmBrooks

                                                                                                                                    Once cut, as with fruit, no further aging occurs.

                                                                                                                                  2. I had a nice cheese from Jasper Hill tonight, called Landaff - it's a raw cow's milk cheese that would probably fall into category 1. It's not particularly hard, though - the paste is semi-firm but VERY creamy. The flavor is similar to a Comte or gruyere, maybe, but earthier. The texture suggests a good melter, so I'll probably try making a grilled cheese with it this weekend. Yum! A nice surprise from my neighborhood grocery store - they're expanding their cheese selection and though things are somewhat overpriced, it's nice to know I can get decent cheese less than a block away.

                                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: biondanonima

                                                                                                                                      I had the Landaff a few months ago and agree with you, it's flavor is quite similar to Gruyere for me which I don't particularly enjoy, it has a sharpness to it though it is creamier. SO loved it, I'll stick to Comte :)

                                                                                                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                        I don't know if you tried melting the Landaff, but I had some in an omelet this morning and it was FABULOUS.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: biondanonima

                                                                                                                                          I think that's how I tried it, maybe I'll give it my second chance rule.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: biondanonima

                                                                                                                                            Landaff is back in the house! Everytime I mention a cheese I don't like to my new favorite cheesemongers, they always ask "well, where did you taste it?" It seems that the precut tastings really do make a difference. I really loved this cheese with a small taste in the store and looking forward to slicing into it later this weekend. It's destined for an omelet.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: biondanonima

                                                                                                                                          I loved it last night in an omelet. Thanks for commenting on this cheese, it was my encouragement to try it again.

                                                                                                                                        3. We're halfway through the month so thought I'd pop in and remind everyone to keep tasting and finding the homegrown good stuff. I think I might venture out of my comfort zone, into the soft cheese world this week but will have to see what the cheese shop has to offer on Friday.

                                                                                                                                          1. A little cheese-porn featuring one of this month's cheeses.

                                                                                                                                            http://instagram.com/p/fjKhOiippN/

                                                                                                                                            1. I plan to venture to Camembert this week, any tips on what I should look for in a wheel in terms of texture and age?

                                                                                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                It should be soft, but if the white bloom has worn away so that it has a lot of brown showing, it's probably past its prime or has been mishandled.

                                                                                                                                                Am I correct in remembering you like sheep's milk cheeses? If so, I highly recommend trying to get your hands on some Nancy's camembert from Old Chatham Sheepherding Company. If you don't like that, you probably don't like camembert!

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                  I love Old Chatham's camembert. I'm not an expert but I find camembert should be soft but not as soft as brie or as runny as a ripe epoisse: a more springy softness if that makes any sense. The sheep's milk version from Old Chatham always has a faint and, to my mind, lovely grassy or meadowy taste.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: teezeetoo

                                                                                                                                                    I finally grabbed a taste of the Camembert and let's just say it was just a taste. It was quite soft so perhaps that might be the issue. I happened to go to a second cheese shop later this afternoon and mentioned its texture and they seemed to think that it was too ripe. To me, it was overwhelmingly mushroom-y and earth-y not in a good way. It's not American but I did happen to taste Delice de Bourgogne as well today and I think I could get into that one. My soft cheese hunt continues.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                      I understand you like sheep's milk and are searching for a soft cheese you might love - this isn't an American cheese but the Brebirousse D'argental is a wonderful soft cheese, annatto rind, with a definite "sheepy" taste. It is strong though not in my view overpowering and I like it best when it is just a little runny. On sale this week at my WF which is why it came to mind.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                          I understand it's a natural rind that turns that orangey color (i've seen similar on pont l'eveque I think) rather than a rind with added annatto -

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: teezeetoo

                                                                                                                                                            Here's my post on Brebirousse. I'd thought the rind's color came from b. linens, but no, it's colored with annatto.
                                                                                                                                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9027...

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                                              I can't tell from anything that came with the cheese how the rind got it's color. the piece we had seems stronger than your description, not as runny (soft and spreading out of its rind but not at all liquid) and is, in fact, sheepy, mineral and grassy and quite a lovely flavor for me who loves sheep cheese.

                                                                                                                                              2. Category 4. Blue - Aqua Bufazola by Bohemian Creamery

                                                                                                                                                On my first visit to Freestone Artisan Cheese in August, I had a preview tasting of an unnamed blue cheese made with water buffalo milk. Not for sale at the time, but Ruth Lafler managed to score some the following week.
                                                                                                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9127...

                                                                                                                                                I was back there again on Sunday and asked to buy some. A small piece was still available, but on tasting, I found it past prime and in decline. It was quite firm, whereas my earlier tasting had been of a creamier paste with mild gorgonzola dolce-level bluing.

                                                                                                                                                I'm going to keep tracking this new cheese when a new lot is available, as the texture and richness from the buffalo milk are quite unique.

                                                                                                                                                1. My cheese haul for the week includes -

                                                                                                                                                  Jasper Hill Landaff
                                                                                                                                                  Westcombe cheddar
                                                                                                                                                  Bellwether Farms San Andreas - sheep's milk

                                                                                                                                                  I'll be back with thoughts, looking forward to these three.

                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                    I would recommend these cheeses to anyone interested, they were all great.

                                                                                                                                                    Landaff - biondanonima gave a great description above and as discussed it's a great melter with a similar creamy texture at room temperature

                                                                                                                                                    Westcombe cheddar - I apologize this is not actually American but rather British. However, I guess I'll just post my thoughts since it's here in case anyone was wondering. This might be one of my top 3 favorites so far this month. It's a simple yet complex cheese, distinctively Cheddar in taste. The flavors are well balanced, it's smooth and fairly mild with a note of tang but no overwhelming sharpness. but smooth and mild without any sharp bite or tang. I think this might become a new everyday Cheddar around here.

                                                                                                                                                    Bellweather Farms San Andreas - This cheese was quite unique for me as a sheep's milk cheese. I has a soft texture and is steel-gray/white in color. It's quite crumbly. It has a distinctive flavor as sheep's milk usually do - compared to others I've had it's less grassy and a milder overall flavor with stronger notes of fruit and butter.

                                                                                                                                                    Another American cheese I tried this weekend - Appalachian Tomme - this was another good choice. It's very distinctive of the Tomme style - fruity and aromatic with a strong earthiness and grassy flavor. It reminded me of Tomme de Savoie but less woody, this was definitely much more floral and a brilliant bright yellow color.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                      :: Appalachian Tomme - this was another good choice. It's very distinctive of the Tomme style - fruity and aromatic with a strong earthiness and grassy flavor. It reminded me of Tomme de Savoie but less woody, this was definitely much more floral and a brilliant bright yellow color. ::

                                                                                                                                                      Who makes this, fldhkybnva? Sounds like a variant of Meadow Creek Dairy's (Galax, Virginia) Appalachian.

                                                                                                                                                  2. OK, here's an entry in the "I never heard of cheese from there" sweepstakes. "Dancing Fern" a reblochon style cheese using raw Devon cows' milk from....wait for it....Sequatchie Cove Farms in Tennessee! A two-time ACS winner. Primarily sold in the south, they say, but beginning to be released in Northern states. Not my favorite cheese style, but I have to admit I enjoyed it.

                                                                                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: DonShirer

                                                                                                                                                      P.S. Zapping it for 5 seconds in the microwave after taking it out of the fridge restores the funniness.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: DonShirer

                                                                                                                                                        Going to have to track that one down, as I'd love to find a worthy substitute for my beloved (lait cru) Reblochon.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                                          I guess it was serendipity I had some for you to try last night. I liked it a lot -- and so did everyone else, it seems!

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: DonShirer

                                                                                                                                                          Last night I had a chance to try Dancing Fern, courtesy of Ruth Lafler. When she pointed to the plate and said that she had a Reblochon style raw milk cheese from TN, I remembered your post and got quite excited. This example was at a lovely point. The rind was a bit on the dry side and not that smelly. The milk's very rich. While not as complex in flavor as Reblochon, there's something about the full bore creaminess of this milk that compensates.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                                            Yes, I thought it was lusciously creamy.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                              And not just creamy in texture but very creamy in taste, much more so than the French version. And that's something that I find in US cheeses that seem to be made with richer milk. It's almost akin to the riper flavors of California wine grapes vs. European counterparts.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                                                Delucacheesemonger asked me to rate on a 10 scale the strength of the flavor of the Reblochon and Gaugry Epoisses he brought me last month. I score the very mild, creamy Reblochon 2.5, the much stronger Epoisses a 6.0.
                                                                                                                                                                A 10 of course would be almost nuclear. The Epoisses was stronger than some would be comfortable eating. (But not me!)
                                                                                                                                                                Edit: sorry, I'm a continent off - please forgive me!

                                                                                                                                                        3. Cruising the supermarket cheese selection, I came across Moody Blue, by Roth, the Wisconsin producer of the Buttermilk Blue I like. This is a smoked blue with the smoke flavor dominant up front and the blue coming forward on the finish. I guess I'm just not much of a fan of smoked cheeses, because I wouldn't eat this on its own. I'm looking forward to trying it in combination with something else (crumbled on a burger, in mac an cheese, etc.).

                                                                                                                                                          http://www.rothcheese.com/products/bu...

                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                            It's great on a burger. I really enjoy it but never straight up. It's also perfect in a salad with a nice tangy vinaigrette.

                                                                                                                                                          2. Just tasted a new batch of cheeses.

                                                                                                                                                            Mt. Tam – Cowgirl Creamery. I have had this before and enjoy the other CC cheeses as well. We really enjoyed this. Purchased it at the beginning of the month and have been holding on to it to allow it to ripen a bit. It was excellent. smooth and creamy texture. Buttery flavor with hints of chanterelle mushroom. Reminded me of a good Brie and reminded my husband if Camembert. I would say this one was more full flavored than ones I have tried in the past. I would also recommend that people keep a lookout for the CC Drake. The Drake starts of as Mt. Tam that is high in moisture and becomes infected with a different set of micrograms that impart different flavor characteristics.
                                                                                                                                                            You can read more here:
                                                                                                                                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/545158
                                                                                                                                                            Drake has layers and layers of flavors and is one of my favorite cheeses.

                                                                                                                                                            Harbison - Jasper Hill. Really good. I get this one once in a while. It strikes me as a very unique cheese interns of its flavor. To me it has a mustardy smokey richness.

                                                                                                                                                            Point Reyes Bay Blue. This was my favorite of the domestic blues I tasted this month. Velvety smooth paste with a small amount of crystals. Flavor is mellow. Blue cheese flavor is subtle and not overpowering. What sets it apart are complex buttery, caramelly layers of flavor.

                                                                                                                                                            Winters cheese company Gouda. I was excited to find a cheese made in Winters California, a sleepy pretty town near where I work in Davis. The Gouda was disappointing though. Not particularly Gouda like, it was more like a generic mild cheddar.

                                                                                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Ridge

                                                                                                                                                              I don't know if it's them or me, but I've never had a Cowgirl cheese that I thought was worth buying. I read descriptions of them that sound wonderful, and then am disappointed when I taste them.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                Have you tried the Drake yet? That's their best cheese. May be coming out soon.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                  l am a big fan of Red Hawk. Main place to buy on east coast is W(t)F. l buy them when there and invariably they are as hard as a baseball as W(t)F ages nothing in the aging room, l worked at three of them and the one in rural Toronto (Mississauga) did, but the two in the states did not. Keep cheese whole and open 2-3 weeks past the sell by date and usually works and turns into goo.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                                                                                                                    They (WF) also do a dim job of educating the cheese buying public about how to maximize the enjoyment/flavor of the cheese they are buying. In all the years I've been stopping at WF for cheese because I can 'at least' find Red Hawk there, no one ever provided the information to me that you just did here.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                                                                                                                      I love Red Hawk. It will be one of the featured cheeses next month. I too have noticed that it is often sold under ripe. Good advice for ripening it. It’s a very unique cheese, not like anything else really. Love the combination of buttery creaminess and funk. I heard a talk by one of the Cowgirl Creamery founders years ago and she said they were just experimenting and did not set out to make an Epoisses like cheese. It happened by accident. I like that it’s unique and not a copycat cheese.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Ridge

                                                                                                                                                                        The CC video of their cheese making process detailed that Red Hawk can only be produced in a certain place in order to create that red color and flavor characteristic RH has (unlike the other cheeses in their line). I thought that was interesting to the back story of Red Hawk.

                                                                                                                                                                        eta: that video is on this board somewhere...

                                                                                                                                                                2. My last official cheeses as part of October Cheese of the Month

                                                                                                                                                                  Cypress Grove Lamb Chopper - I've been looking for this everywhere. It seemed to disappear as soon as I wanted to try it. I happened to visit Boston today and found myself in Whole Foods and scooped some up to try later.

                                                                                                                                                                  Cowgirl Creamery Lou Bergier Pichin

                                                                                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                    I like the Lamb Chopper, but it's quite mild. Also, I can never forget that one of our fellow hounds calls it "Sheep on a cycle."

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                      Blargh I had cordobes last week and had high hopes but super mild. I imagine it won't compare to my favorite Ossau and Ptit Basque.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                        I finally dug into the Lamb Chopper last night. No cheese purchase is a wasted buy, but the wedge in my fridge will probably disappear slowly. It was OK. I thought the flavor was more distinctive of Gouda, very very sweet with a mild hint of the usual sheep flavor. It was just overall too sweet for me, but not a bad cheese at all.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                        I'm back to report.

                                                                                                                                                                        Lamb chopper-I initially didnt like this cheese at all, it's quite sweet and reminds me of gouda more than a sheeps milk but has wonderful and surprising crunchy crystals. However once I thought of it outside of the sheeps milk it seemed to grow on me. Now I wish I hadn't eaten the entire thing since I can't seem to find it around here anymore and had to bring it home via plane. It has a wonderful sunny yellow color and a creamy texture and is a great snacking cheese. I didn't like it as much melted.

                                                                                                                                                                        Lou Bergier Pichin- I was hesitant of this one but the cheesemonger recommended it since I like other Tomme cheeses. I only bought an end, and am planning to buy a larger piece this week. It's very similar to Tomme de Savoie and reminds me of Port Salut in a way, less fruity and much creamier. I'm looking forward to seeing how well it melts as I think it would be great with eggs.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                          I bought Port Salut (first time) from TJ''s and tried it on a toasted tomato bread (homemade by J) this morning for breakast. Port Salut reminded me of a cross between a softer Muenster and the Laughing Cow processed wedges. Okay spread on warmed toast but nothing spectacular.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                            It's pretty mild and I agree with your comparison to Muenster. It's a great melter in eggs.

                                                                                                                                                                      3. Not sure what the rules of these discussions are but here are some good american cheeses I tried this week, all worthy all new to me.

                                                                                                                                                                        1.Ledyard, from Meadowood Farm, Cazenovia NY - type 2 or 3 this was a soft ripened sheep cheese (pasteurized milk) wrapped in I think grape leaves. It had a smooth cream colored to darker honey like texture, lots of flavor

                                                                                                                                                                        2. Reading, springbrook farm, Reading VT. A raw cowsmilk cheese from a relatively large wheel, flavorful and pleasingly smooth with deep yellow color - had a smooth elastic curd which made me think it would be a good melter - note store described it as raclette-like. Very nice.

                                                                                                                                                                        3. Bayley Hazen (blue) from Jasper Hill Farm we may have tried this one before - it has a good savory bju tang, salty and not too sharp for us, fairly dry texture made from raw cows milk. Very eatable.

                                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jen kalb

                                                                                                                                                                          Ive had the reading raclette and love it! Bayley Hazen is also wonderful.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                            its quite different from raclette though, dont you think?

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: jen kalb

                                                                                                                                                                              It seemed similar to me but a fresher flavor than the raclette I'm used to, more buttery than pungent

                                                                                                                                                                        2. I'm winding down my October cheese stash. Tonight was my first adventure with Cypress Grove Truffle Tremor - strong stuff, maybe I let it go too long. I shared it with St. Agur blue, which had a far more enjoyable aftertaste, one of my favorites. My St. Albray was extremely ripe but I like it that way.
                                                                                                                                                                          My Humboldt Fog wedge seems OK, and the Maytag also, but I should start them soon. The Mimolette will be later - it looks like a hunk of petrified wood that should last forever.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. Category 2. Soft-ripened cheeses

                                                                                                                                                                            Holy Moly by Bohemian Creamery in Sebastopol, CA - Not only does this goat cheese have a gray-speckled bloomy rind, it's washed with Russian River Brewing Co's Consecration sour dark wild style ale. This makes for a pretty funky and wild-tasting cheese. The sample (photo 2) I had was still pretty firm and not softened.
                                                                                                                                                                            http://bohemiancreamery.tumblr.com/Ou...

                                                                                                                                                                            Willow del Camembert by Andre Artisan Cheese (Swallow Valley Farm) in Valley Ford, CA - Made with extra rich Jersey cow milk, this hits double-cream levels without enrichment of additional cream. One of the few domestic Camembert-style cheeses that comes anywhere close to the earthiness and mushroom qualities of the original. The cheesemonger at Freestone Artisan Cheese said that this cheese has other added cultures beyond the ones in the manufacturer's packet . . . not entirely sure what that means, but something makes a difference here. Very unctuous paste but still a line of chalkiness in the center. I'd like to try again from a fully ripe round.
                                                                                                                                                                            http://www.swallowvalleyfarm.com/

                                                                                                                                                                            Pierce Point by Cowgirl Creamery in Petaluma, CA - I'd first had this herb-coated seasonal cheese a year ago when I adored it so much (photo 5), I asked for more info then from a contact at Cowgirl. He wrote back,
                                                                                                                                                                            "This cheese recently underwent an amazing recipe change. It was originally decorated in a blend of 8+ herbs. The new recipe pares that down to 4 or 5 and introduces Thai basil whose sweetness is sublime with the rich jersey milk used to make this cheese. In fact the milk from John Taverna's farm is so rich that when we switched the recipe to his milk years ago we stopped enriching the milk with cream. It's only available 3 months out of the year. Be on the lookout soon for Cowgirl's newest cheese, Chimney Rock. "
                                                                                                                                                                            Revisiting it this month, the round I got was far less ripe even though the cheesemonger said it was "ready" (photo 4). None of the Brie-like ooze or lusciousness. I do really like the nuance added by the surface herbs.
                                                                                                                                                                            http://cheemonger.wordpress.com/tag/p...

                                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                                            1. I tried another American cheese tonight. Central coast Goat Gouda from California.

                                                                                                                                                                              http://www.centralcoastcreamery.com

                                                                                                                                                                              The last California Gouda I tried, which was from Winters cheese company, was so disappointing that my expectations were not super high. But I loved the Central coast Goat Gouda. It was addicting. It’s a semihard cheese that melts in your mouth with a velvety smoothness. Very slightly cheddary with some of the crystals of gouda. The flavor profile is complex, unique and outstanding. Nutty, mildly goaty, bacony. I would recommend it.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. Category 3 & 4 crossover - Blue cheese of raw mixed milk (goat & sheep): Boontner's Blue by Pennyroyal of Boonville, CA

                                                                                                                                                                                Pennyroyal is a new farmstead cheese company from the family that owns Navarro Vineyards. I tasted this cheese at their booth at the Saturday morning farmers market in Healdsburg. It was introduced less than a year ago. Texture is moist and crumbly. This is an assertive blue on the order of Roquefort intensity with deeply pocked veining and crunchy crystals. But the more interesting character comes from the intrinsic flavor of the milk with fresh grass and herbal tones. Or maybe I was too influenced by the Pennyroyal mint logo on the label, the wild herb on which the herd feeds.

                                                                                                                                                                                http://cheeseandchampagne.com/2013/08...

                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                                1. Another cheese I forgot to report on only because I just remembered how much I love i as I was gathering up a bazillion cheeses at a recent cheese sale - Cypress Grove Midnight Moon. It's described as a goat gouda cheese. It has a very sleek black rind, and a bright white-bluish color similar to some CFL lightbulbs. It's quite dense with occasional holes and very crunchy crystals throughout. It does have some tang of a goat's milk cheese but is very creamy and more similar to a Gouda. I actually hate nearly every other goat's milk cheese I've tried, but love this one. It also pairs well with heartier flavors like meat, makes a great cheese for burgers as well as a great grilled cheese.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Category 2. Soft-ripened: Bollie's Mollies by Pennyroyal Farmstead in Boonville, CA and Triple Cream Brie by Marin French (formerly Rouge et Noir) in Petaluma, CA.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Bollie's Mollies can be either all goat or goat/sheep milk depending on the season. The fuzzy mold on the rind has a light gray-blue coloration. This month was my second encounter with Bollie's Mollies (a reference to parts of the female anatomy that produce milk). The first was in July at a Pinot/Burg tasting when it didn't pair particularly well with the red wines. Also, I found it too dry.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Tasting it a couple weeks ago at the Healdsburg farmers market, I had a much different impression. More complex, developed flavor and the texture wow'd me. While the paste is firm and crumbles a bit when cut, it has a soft, velvety texture in the mouth dissolving when it hits the tongue. I asked the rep what was behind this, and she said that this cheese has the opposite pH of brie, making it firm rather than oozy when it ripens. Not sure what that means, but thought I'd pass it on.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Yesterday Oct. 30 I cut into the Marin French brie that I've been holding in the refrigerator since the start of the month. I left it out on the kitchen counter at room temperature for a day before. The best before date is Oct. 28, and the back label states that it's mature a week before that. The round had some sinking in the middle and the white bloomy mold started to show a little bit of scattered darkening. The paste was fully oozy when I sliced off a wedge.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Aroma's a mix of mushroom and creme fraiche, and a little ammonia. The flavor's pretty mild but extremely salty with the rind, and a hint of ammonia. We're skipping the rind since it's detracting from the flavor at this point. I probably would have enjoyed this cheese more a week earlier.

                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I finally cut into my Marin French Cheese Camembert. I have never given Camembert much thought as the times I have tried it in the past it has been poor quality grocery store specimens that tasted no different than poor quality grocery store brie.

                                                                                                                                                                                      This cheese is so different - creamy with tons of flavor. The sell by date is 11/2 - we have been eating it this week and it seems to be perfectly ripe. I would definitely buy this again.

                                                                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: EmBrooks

                                                                                                                                                                                        Glad you caught yours at perfect ripeness. I'm looking forward to revisiting Schloss by Marin French for next month's washed rind cheese-apalooza.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                                                                          I'll have to see if I can find that one. I'm excited to go beyond Espoisses next month!

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: EmBrooks

                                                                                                                                                                                            My recollection is that Schloss used to be sold only at the creamery. But this month while I was focused on American cheese, I saw it at two supermarkets in Northern California so maybe it is in the distribution channel too.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Category 3. Sheep's milk - Black-eyed Susan by Garden Variety Cheese in Royal Oaks, CA (unincorporated community north of Salinas)

                                                                                                                                                                                        Garden Variety Cheese is a farmstead producer. The raw sheep's milk cheese is modeled after Ossau-Iraty. Black-eyed Susan is aged four to six months. The hard paste crumbles into flaky shards and is best shaved very thin with a plane. It has some crunchy crystals as well. The flavor blooms on the palate to show perfect salt levels, rich earthy brown butter tones, wild flowers, and a tangy finish. At $30 per pound, it's a cheese to be savored.

                                                                                                                                                                                        http://www.gardenvarietycheese.com/ch...

                                                                                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                                                                          With just five hours to go in N American Cheese Month here on the Left Coast, I cracked open the pack of 5 year old white Balderson I got in my first ever (!) trip to Costco last week. Dang, that's some fine cheddar. I hadn't had it in years and thought perhaps it was rose coloured cheese memory but no. Very full flavoured, big bite without any bitterness, little nubbins of umami crystal, creamy but firm and yet somehow a bit crumbly. Balderson, how do I love thee? O Canada!

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Finally am tasting the Traditional Brie - Marin French Cheese. Purchased it a while ago but the expiration date was November 27 so I wanted to give it a chance to ripen a bit. I would say I thought it was just ok. It had some interesting oniony, mushroomy and buttery flavors but was not as deeply flavored and interesting as a really good French Brie. I would not buy this one again.