I discovered a new cheese shop in Vancouver yesterday, which shocked me. I thought I knew of every slice of cheese in this town but Pane e Formaggio somehow slipped me by. It’s a cosy bread and cheese shop and deli with a small selection of cheeses- but the staff there were extremely friendly and knowledgeable, and that’s really what I’m looking for in a cheese shop. Please, talk cheese with me. I so appreciate people taking the time to indulge me in a little cheese chat. Bravo, Pane e Formaggio, I shall be back!
One cheese there which caught my eye was Ashley, by Albert’s Leap. Ashley has a line of ash running through it-get it-”Ash” ley. This line of ash theme is a common one in cheese-and basically a cheese nod to the great French cheese Morbier- traditionally made with a layer of ash running through the middle. Once upon a time, Morbier was made in small batches by monks in the dark ages in presumably dark monasteries. The line of ash separated the morning milk from the evening milk, keeping a rind from developing-like an ash band-aid. My Albert’s Leap was made in Ontario, probably in the light of day-but I appreciate the effort and the nod to tradition, nonetheless.
Ashley is a bloomy rind, ash dusted pasteurized goat’s milk cheese brought to us by Quality Cheese , specifically their Albert’s Leap brand. I confess to finding their website a little confusing. Firstly, it doesn’t mention Ashley at all. I have looked closely at the Ashley label, and it clearly is made by this company, so why the company does not describe it on its website is a little mysterious. Feel free to shed some light on this if you know the reason for the omission. The internet is also strangely mum about Ashley, so it may have been a limited run, or just a new product-who knows?
The site does reference this company being run by the Borgo family, specifically brothers Joe and Albert (who sometimes Leaps) who are carrying forward the tradition of cheese started by Italian Almerigo Borgo, who, “left for Canada in 1954 and by 1957 he decided that cheese was his passion and that he would begin his own venture.” Almerigo built the Quality Cheese company and mentored the next generation of Borgos to carry on his tradition.
Ashley is an attractive, showy cheese. As with all soft goat cheeses, this one has ripened from the outside in, so there’s a nice creamy yellow gooey rim, and a whiter chalky interior. It’s an attractive cheese, and would look great on a cheese board.The odour is mild and faintly farm-like, as it should be.
Hmm. There’s a lot going on here. It’s sticky and creamy and goaty, but doesn’t have the sweet note I was expecting. The rind is almost a little bitter-or maybe that’s the ash. The rind is also quite surprisingly chewy, but then there’s that gooey first layer, and chalky finish. It’s good, and I like the three textures, but I think I would want to eat this one with a little something sweet-fruit perhaps, or a quince jam?
Ashley is a real looker that would make a great compliment to any cheese board-but make sure you have a little sweet to go with this darling.