Day 92-Jarlsberg

For those of you who have been following my blog, I am happy to report that my neck is much improved.  A day at home with hot pads, Advil and mindless television seems to have worked.  Oh, and lots of cheese, of course.  I have to admit to a little cheese binge yesterday.  But it has calcium, right?  It must be good for bones, and thus necks as well, as they contain bones, right?

Today is dedicated to Jarlsberg, my first Norwegian cheese.  Actually, it’s my first Norwegian cheese to be reviewed here. I did sample another Norwegian cheese whilst in Iceland called Gjetost, which looks like peanut butter, is often served with whale (I wish I was kidding), and tastes like a combination of all things horrible-but I digress, no Gjetost today!

Norway has a long history of farming.  Norwegian farmers first started to keep cattle more than 6,000 years ago. Their chief dairy product was butter, which was actually used as a kind of currency. Modern dairy production was established in the early 1800’s, when Norwegian farmers decided to branch out from butter and approached some  experienced Swiss cheese makers to teach them how to maximize their cheese production.  Thus, in many ways, Norwegian cheese is a direct descendent from Swiss cheese.

Jarlsberg is made from pasteurized cow’s milk and is aged from 1-15 months.  A version of this cheese  was first produced in the 1860’s in Jarlsberg by a Anders Larsen Bakke, a farmer and  pioneer in Norway’s dairy industry.  Bakke’s cheese shared similarities with Emmenthal  and other mountain cheeses except that it was sweet!  It was the first Norwegian re-imagining of Swiss cheese.  Bakke’s cheese had some popularity, but eventually all but disappeared.

The Jarlsberg cheese known today is kind of a revival of that cheese.  It was the result of intensive research and development by the Dairy Institute at the  the Agricultural University of Norway.  This group of top-secret dairy scientists were dedicated to locating the best Norwegian cheese recipe and putting it to work   The current Jarlsberg cheese-making process was developed by professor Ola Martin Ystgaard and his cheese minions in 1956. Ystgaard’s team started experimenting with old cheese recipes, including Bakke’s original Jarlsberg. They succeeded in combining old cheese-making traditions such as Bakke’s with modern technologies.   The team called their new cheese creation Jarlsberg . Hence, Jarlsberg is a relatively modern formation.  The recipe as well as the name are trademarked, it is technically Jarlsberg® .   The recipe for Jarlsberg currently in use is also top-secret!  Production of this top-secret well-researched university-based cheese began in the 1960s.

The largest producer of Jarlsberg today is the TINE factory in western Norway.   TINE is one of the twelve agricultural cooperatives in Norway and the largest  Norwegian dairy cooperative. Jarlsberg accounts for 80% of TINE’s total export.  Jarlsberg is also produced in the United States on license at Alpine Cheese in Ohio, and by Dairygold in Ireland, also under license. Jarlsberg is actually a very successful cheese.  It is the 3rd largest export product from Norway. Jarlsberg comes in original, lite, special reserve (aged) and smoked.

My little slice of Jarlsberg original is certainly taking its cues from “Swiss Cheese.”  It is almost a caricature of Swiss cheese, in fact, there should be a mouse posing beside it leering suggestively. It’s a semi-hard looking cheese with no discernible natural rind, although there is a thin orange plastic coating which says “Jarlsberg” on it.  It has one massive eye winking at me, so I think we can safely assume that during the processing of this cheese, bacterial gasses are released, forming eyes.  As everything about Jarlsberg is really top-secret, I’m not sure how it is made, or even how old my little slice is.  As it is rather supple and not all that gnarly smelling, it is probably a couple of months old: not too young, and not too aged.  The smell is mild, but reminds me of Emmenthal.  It’s piquant but not repugnant in any way.

Here goes…

Not so crazy about this one.  God, I’m difficult.  But really, it’s just weird to me. I know I bitch all the time about cheese not being sweet enough, but this one is too sweet. It’s like Emmenthal that someone stirred a bunch of sugar into.  It’s like cheese-flavoured candy.  It has that mountain cheese alcohol-taste, but then it’s so sugary, almost everything else is lost. The texture is cool, it’s chewy and nicely elastic, and melts on the palate, but the taste is so sweet I find it utterly distracting.

I love you, Norway, but Jarlsberg, you aren’t my slice of cheese!

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Day 91-Edam AKA Dutch Edammer

Have you ever woken up with your neck bent to the side in excruciating pain because you slept on it wrong? If so, did you then have to write a cheese blog post with your head bent 45 degrees to the right? If not, please have some empathy for me today, as I am literally-a little bent. This will be my first ever sideways written post…interesting.  As we do the final 10 cheese count down (it almost makes me cry to write that) I notice that I have neglected Edam, one of the most beloved and popular cheeses in the world. Zoiks!  Luckily I caught that little oversight in time.

Edam cheese is a pasteurized Dutch cow’s milk cheese first mentioned in 1439 when it was made and shipped from the Port of Edam north of Amsterdam. Although mostly made in Holland, the majority is exported.  The Dutch prefer  Gouda over Edam.  As I am a huge Gouda fan, I am curious to see where I land in this debate! The name “Edam Holland” is protected and thus cheese bearing that name is guaranteed to be of Dutch origin.  However, cheese called Edam is made all over the world and labelled as plain old Edam. So watch out, if it matters, it’s “Edam Holland” you are looking for.  Usually Edam made outside of Holland will not have the distinctive red wax coating. But to confuse this formula, that red wax coated Mini Babybel cheese we all put in our kids lunches is Edam, is red wax coated, but is not made in Holland.  Confused yet?

Edam AKA (Dutch Edammer) is traditionally sold in flattened disks of cheese with a coat of red paraffin wax. The cheese is named for the town of Edam in North Holland. From the 14th until the 18th century, Edam cheese was the most popular cheese in the world especially at sea and in the colonies.  Edam could mature very well at sea and could tolerate a little off grid affinage in the hold of a ship, so it was easy to bring it along to eat while travelling. According to legend, Edam cheese became even more popular in that time that as ships used these cheeses as bullets for their cannons. That sounds like bull ship to me, I mean, really?

The Edam cheese of today is not the same cheese as old school Edam. It’s been made from skim milk since the 1800’s while it historically was a full fat milk, like its close cousin, gouda.  Traditional ” farmer style” Edam cheese had a strong flavour and has all but disappeared and been replaced by a factory made version, soft and rather insipid in comparison.  Edam is now sold mostly in a “young”  version which is mild and salty and red waxed.  The aged and traditional version-which will be more flavourful-has a black paraffin wax coating to help distinguish it from the younger type.

My Edam bears the label, “Royal Hollandia,” this company was a little tricky to track down, it turns out that this is a trademarked name of the international dairy giant Friesland Foods company from The Netherlands. I am assuming this cheese is made in Holland, as the parent company is Dutch, but  it is not calling itself the protected name  “Edam Holland ” so that’s kind of strange. I’m not sure where this cheese doesn’t meet the standards set by the protected designation, but my neck hurts too much for further sleuthing at this hour.

My slice of Edam has a firm yellow cheese paste with a bright red wax rind-which I shall remove, of course. The interior paste is solid with no eyes. It looks like a large Babyel that has been sliced.  The smell is extremely mild, in fact, does it smell?

Here goes…

Well, this certainly isn’t Babybel! This cheese is much saltier and more tart than I was expecting. There is no hint of sweet at all, it’s kind of an astringent soya sauce flavour- mild with no raunchy notes, but also not as appealing as I thought it would be. It’s kind of boring and chilled out with no hint of anything carnal or dark to distract me from the banality. It’s safe, very safe, you can see why it is sold to children in tiny little versions.  The texture is really great though, it’s chewy and tensile-you could slice this one and put it on a sandwich no problem, or even shoot it out of a cannon, I suppose, but I must have some Dutch heritage-I vastly prefer a Gouda too, this one’s not my slice of cheese.

Day 90-Lamb Chopper

I have many regrets with this blog.  One of them has been the fact that I have reviewed only a small handful of sheep cheeses, and virtually only pecorino at that.  Sheep’s milk cheese is actually very popular across the world, but we don’t seem to have much of an appetite for it here in Canada.  Part of the issue with making a sheep’s milk cheese is that there’s just not enough good sheep’s milk in Canada to resource a cheese.  Sheep are little, their little udders are little, we just aren’t focussed on getting that milk out and into cheese.  It’s a shame.

 
Thus, imagine my joy when I learned about today’s cheese, a sheep’s milk cheese from the USA.  I mean, that’s practically Canada, right?  Oh wait, wrong again.  Today’s cheese, Lamb Chopper is actually a Dutch cheese, made for and sold by Americans.  Will I ever get this straight? Lamb Chopper is made in Europe exclusively for the American Cypress Grove Chevre. Cypress Grove chevre is traditionally a goat’s milk cheese maker who decided they wanted to get into sheep’s milk, and who can blame them?

 
The California-based Cypress Grove Creamery is a well established cutting edge American artisanal cheese maker with a line up of several successful goat cheeses. I specifically went out of my way to buy this cheese, assuming that it would be made on site.   However, cheesemaker Mary Keehn  has this made in Holland by a gouda maker who works with sheep milk.  Lamb Chopper is thus a Dutch Gouda made to American specifications.  Lamb Chopper is made from 100% organic and pasteurized sheep’s milk. There was no way this much organic sheep’s milk could be resourced in the USA, so this was a workable compromise.   The adorable label has a drawing of a tough looking lamb biker on a Harley, get it…lamb chopper, hardy, har.  This is also my first cheese with its own slogan,  “Born to be mild.” punny!

 
Thus, our little traveller, Lamb Chopper is made in Holland from Dutch sheep’s milk and aged in The Netherlands for three months. It’s then coated in wax for the voyage back to the USA for finishing school. Apparently the cheese maker was also concerned that the bloomy-rind molds from her other cheeses could infect Lamb Chopper if she tried to make it in the same facility, so it’s actually worked out well this way.  Interestingly, no other cheese makers seem to share this concern, and I do see blue cheeses in affinage side by side with non-blues all the time-so that’s a little curious. Lamb Chopper is sold at 4 to 6 months old, and can last up to 8 additional months if uncut. Cypress Grove isn’t just cute and the only cheese with  dual citizenship, it’s also kind of famous.  This cheese received a Silver Award in the 2010 World Cheese Awards.

 
My little wedge of Cypress Grove Lamb Chopper is mildly sitting beside me.  It’s too early and we were both up late at my mother’s retirement party, but still, the cheese calls. It’s a firm white cheese, it really does look like a pecorino more than a gouda to me.  I’m not clear on why this cheese is called “gouda.”  There is a wax rind around the outside which has kept it safe on its journey from Holland to California, and now to me. This cheese smells great, it smells, well, like pecorino, sheepy and mild and savoury, it’s not offensive in the least, but it’s clearly sheep-based, and that appeals to a person like me.

 
here goes…

 
Mmmm, but it is a gouda-and do you know how I know?  It’s sweet!  Part of the gouda making process brings out the natural sweetness in the milk.  Thank God for Gouda!  Lamb Chopper has that same caramelly sweetness. Lamb Chopper is actually a little lier, it’s not born to be mild, it’s actually extremely flavourful.  There are lamb hoof tastes as well as butterscotch, salt, yumminess and a tyrosine crunch in this cheese, which is a surprise.  It’s not overly aged, it’s quite creamy and yielding, so that tyrosine shocked me.  My mouth just doesn’t know where to go with this cheese.  There’s almost too much going on.

 

OK, here’s the thing.  I like sheep’s cheese, and I really like Gouda, and I love that this  is an organic cheese, but I’m not sure if I am totally on fire about this combination.  There’s something a little distracting to me about all these tastes happening simultaneously.  I appreciate the effort, but I  tink I will take my gouda in cow, thank you very much.

Day 89-Tete de Moine AOC

I have been sampling great Canadian cheeses for this last week, but I am now going to deviate from this and round out another 7 or so International cheeses that I want to cover before it is over.  Then it’s back to Canada for the last five.  That’s the plan.  Actually, I’m not sure I can really stop at 100.  It’s become a lifestyle for me.  We shall see!

It’s back to Switzerland for Tete de Moine.  First made in the 1100’s by monks at the Bellelay monastery in the Bernese Jura mountains, the production predictably moved from the monks to the farms controlled by the monastery.  See how hard it is to get a good Monk’s cheese these days? Tete de Moine was given to the monastery as a tithe by the locals- one cheese per monk per farm-family.  Tete de moine actually means Head of the monk.  Some debate exists as to whether this refers to the tithing-per monk’s head-or to the fact that monks had shaved heads or a tonsured appearance which sort of resembles Tete de Moine. Who knows?

Tete de Moine is made from raw cow’s milk. The cheese is still made by the descendents of those local farmers who once tithed it to the monks.  It is currently produced in nine village dairies.  After being formed the cheese is immersed in a brine bath for 12 hours.  This expels water and starts the rind forming.  The cheese is then placed on a pine board where it matures for at least 75 days in a humid and moist cheese cellar.  It is cared for and flipped regularly as well as being brushed with a brine containing salt and bacteria.  This bacterial bathing perhaps explains the super funky smell of this cheese.  Although it doesn’t look like it, Tete de Moine is a washed rind cheese- and those, my friends, are little stinkers. As Tete de Moine is an AOC cheese, the milk from the cows has to come from a limited geographic region and the techniques used to make the cheese are carefully regulated.

Tete de Moine is traditionally shaved and formed into a rosette when being eaten.  These days most people use a specially designed device called a girolle machine to make the cheese rosettes.  Apparently shaving the cheese into this shape allows for lots of oxygen to mix with the cheese and to encourage the flavour.  Tete de Moine and girolles are extremely popular in Switzerland and can be found just about anywhere.  Not so in Canada, where I have had to make do with a paring knife.

I have to address the odour of this cheese. Tete de Moine is by far the stinkiest cheese I have run across in 89 cheeses.  I was initially drawn to it because of its outrageously vile odor.  I couldn’t believe that anyone would spend money on something that smelled like that, so of course-I did.  I have actually had a few house guests smell this one through its wrapper as a party trick-all have recoiled in horror.  Have you ever stuck your finger in your belly button after a really hot day, squished it around, and then smelled it?  That smell, my friends, one could aptly describe as “tete de moine-like.” My children claim that it smells like “throat cheese,” and no- that’s one cheese I will not be reviewing.  It’s really hard to describe how horrible this cheese smells-go and sniff some if you see it in the market, I dare you.  It smells like sickness, and rot, and pain and dirty things excreted by humans.  It looks innocent enough, a half circle of firm yellow cheese with a natural brown rind, it’s kind of crumbly and kind of sticky, but it just smells freaking awful.  Have I been clear enough about this?  It could be used as a torture device.

Here goes…

What the hell is wrong with people?  No, seriously, people eat this cheese? It tastes like old sweaty, raunchy, arm pits mixed with crotch.  Seriously, I can’t eat anymore.  I can’t see how shaping it into a rosette would have any effect on this taste…really, you want more oxygen to bring out the flavour?  Are you freaking insane? Tete de Moine kind of tastes like Emmenthaler gone bad.  There’s that firm almost parmesan texture, and then that alcohol backed mountain cheese taste, but you can’t even think about any of that because you just want to be sick.  God, I think I am going to be sick.  Is it some kind of joke?  Clearly, this one is not my slice of cheese, but if it is yours, perhaps you can speak to a professional.

Day 88-Mont St. Benoit

Here’s something you probably already know: the internet is full of creepers!  As the administrator of this blog I am privy to the search terms used to find this blog on any given day.  Yesterday someone-or let’s hope something  used a pretty heinous and personal search term to locate this one.  Hence, my profile picture is changed to a cheese for privacy reasons.  So, to you super creepy internet assholereally?  I hope you aren’t getting that worked up over a little bit of cheese.  That’s just sad.

Perhaps then, it is excellent timing that today’s cheese is actually made by monks, and Benedictine monks at that.  The very presence of a truly monastic cheese will drive the negative vibes away~~~~~ Here’s a little confession.  I have a cheese-monk-fantasy thing which has yet to be satisfied in my 88 days of cheese.  I know that sounds a little twisted, but let me explain myself.  There is a clearly established historic connection between monasteries and great cheeses.  Why this is, I’m not sure.  Maybe monks had lots of milk, time and damp cellars on their hands.  Regardless,  many of the great cheeses were initially created by monks, and then later adapted by others.  Most of these cheeses are no longer made by the monks.  Time after time I have been foiled in my endeavour to sample real live monk cheese, but that all comes to an end today with Mont St. Benoit, made at L’Abbeye St. Benoit!

Mont St. Benoit is the real deal, made by real Benedictine monks, at a real monastery.  This is, in fact, the only cheese dairy in North America run by Benedictine monks, so I have hit the jackpot.  The Abbey of Saint-Benoît-du-Lac, founded in 1912, numbers a little more than fifty monks living in the municipality of Saint Benoit du lac just East of Montreal. Separated from the world, their worship includes manual as well as intellectual work. They form a community under the direction of an Abbot.

Benedictine life virtually disappeared in France at the Revolution.  In 1901 anticlerical laws in France drove all the Benedictine monks into exile, thus this was initially a community of French exiles, which may explain the cheese. According to their website URL http://www.st-benoit-du-lac.com/chooser2/chooser2.html Benedict said that to be a true monk one must “live by the work of one’s hands.”  This work helps to provide for the needs of the monastery, and at this monastery they needed cheese.  I kind of adore the thought of a group of Benedictine monks having their own website, it’s a fantastic juxtaposition between the old and the new, really go and check it out.  They sell 10 cheeses called  “fromages de l’Abbae” including my Mont St. Benoit.

Alas, that’s about all the info I could find on Mont St. Benoit, it’s almost like someone has taken a vow of silence!  The website does state that the cheeses are all made by the monks, and that they have been making cheese here since 1943.  It doesn’t state where the milk comes from, or if it is organic, but these things are usually stated if they are the case.  It’s probably safe to assume it’s not organic and the milk comes from somewhere other than the abbey-which may explain why this is a pasteurized cheese, not raw.  The only other public statement regarding this cheese, is that it is made from cow’s milk and is “Swiss Style,” whatever that means.  I find that a baffling phrase, as Swiss cheese varies about as much as any other cheese.

My slice of Godly, yet mysterious Mont. St. Benoit cheese is a soft-looking yellow cheese with large eyes-or holes-throughout the cheese body.  As mentioned previously, this occurs by naturally forming gasses caused by bacteria when the cheese is being produced.  My sample is a small one, so there’s just one big eye winking at me.  There is no discernible rind, and the smell is soft and pleasing to the nose, it’s a mild cheese.

Here goes…

mmmm, a toothsome little snack.  The taste is extremely dialled back, it’s quite mild and lacks any bite or saltiness: it’s a safe cheese.  Mont St. Benoit is totally understated in flavour.   However, the texture is really groovy.  It’s got a perfect chew to it, it’s soft, chewy, yet yielding at the same time, you just want to bathe your teeth in its chewy goodness.  I bet this one would be great melted.  I personally like a cheese that bites a little more in terms of flavour, but the texture on this one is so perfect, I will be a repeat offender. Hallelujah!

 

Day 87-Monterey Jack

 

87 cheeses into my 100 day journey and I have yet to review a single American cheese.  Actually, there’s not a lot of American cheese to be had here in Canada, strangely. I’m not sure if this is due to some dairy embargo laws or what. It’s not that we lack great cheese in Canada- both Canadian and foreign-it’s just that American cheese doesn’t even seem to be on the menu. Curious.

Even today’s cheese, the famous American creation, Monterey Jack, is actually a Canadian iteration-this time made by Canadian cheese giant Armstrong, AKA Saputo.  I had such a great experience with Woolwich goat cheese that I have decided to open my mind to tasting some of the cheese made by our Canadian cheese barons.  I didn’t really have a choice with Monterey Jack, it’s impossible to find here in Canada in anything but an Industrially made version.

Monterey Jack, AKA Monterey Sonoma Jack, AKA Jack was officially named in 1955 by the American food and drug administration to cover a variety of cheeses then on the market.  A raging cheese debate still exists as to who created Jack.  In the mid 1800’s Dona Juana Cota de Bonrondo made a cheese called Queso del Pais and sold it door to door in Monterey.  At the same time, a similar cheese was being made and sold by a Domingo Pedrazzi which was formed by a tool called a house jack which pressurized the cheese.  His cheese was sold as Pedrazzi’s Jack Cheese.  However, a third party, David Jacks basically took the recipe of Queso del Pais and started marketing a cheese called Jack’s cheese. This is the one that took off.   It’s all rather muddled.  To make it even more complicated the actual Queso del Pais origin cheese recipe was brought to Mexico from Spain by Franciscan monks.  Whew- I don’t know Jack!

Monterey Jack-regardless of its origin- remains hugely popular to this day, and  accounts for about 10% of cheese production in California.  There are many varieties of Jack from Young Jack, a mild cheese often flavoured with spices, to  a runny farmstead Jack and Mezzo Secco, a firmer parmesan-like Jack.  The process for creating all of these Jacks is the same-it’s the aging that makes the difference.  Jack is often mixed with other cheeses, it’s the “Mex” in my “Tex-Mex” a combination of shredded cheddar and Jack.

Jack cheese is usually aged for about 7 months before sale. Monterey Jack is a semi-hard cheese made from pasteurized cow’s milk. It’s usually industrially made.  It can be made from whole, partly skimmed or skimmed cow’s milk. Because of its low content of tyramine-an organic compound thought to be associated with headaches, it is frequently recommended as one of the few cheeses that is safe to eat for migraine sufferers.

So that’s Jack, now onto Armstrong for a second.  I have  grown up eating Armstrong cheese all my life.  It’s just been one of those cheeses that you can find anywhere in BC.  Armstrong cheese was originally made in the small BC town of Armstrong.  However, this is sadly no longer the case.   Dairyworld purchased Armstrong Cheese in 1997, and Saputo purchased Dairyworld, including Armstrong in 2003.  In February 2004, after being in operation for more than 100 years, Saputo closed the Armstrong Cheese site down. What a drag, I had no idea! My little package of Armstrong Monterey Jack looks to have been made somewhere in Quebec. Of course.

Thus, we have a very lost little cheese on our hands.  Is it Spanish?  Is it Mexican?  It’s surely American, but wait, it’s from Armstrong, nope, it’s actually from Quebec.  Do you see how confusing this cheese blogging can get?  My innocent little white slice of Jack looks exactly as it is-a boring industrial cheese, safe and not threatening in any way.  It’s pallid, there is no rind, no eyes and virtually no smell.  This is sanitized cheese.  It doesn’t get any safer than this.  At least my kids will finally be happy with the left overs!

Here goes…

Well, after 86 days of eating gnarly cheese, I am suddenly reminded of what I used to think all cheese was.  This is it- mild, chewy, a tiny bit sharp, a tinsy bit salty, a sliver of sweet, all very constrained in an even, springy interior paste. There is no hint of barn, ammonia or mould.  It’s like astronaut cheese from the future, is there even bacteria in this?  It’s just a hum drum chew.  What’s the point?  With so many amazing artisanal delicious cheeses out there, it’s a pity that something like Jack has total market domination.  It’s more of a comment on our society than on the cheese though-Jack is the safe, inoffensive choice, but it’s not my slice of cheese.

 


Day 86-Castle Blue


I have a special fondness for the Fraser Valley of BC.  Just outside of busy Vancouver is a wonder of country farms and cows.  About twice a year my family will drive out to Harrison Hotsprings to stay at the hotel and lounge in the hotspring pools.  Imagine my great surprise to learn that all this time I have been driving right by a local fromagerie!  Guess where I’m going to stop next time I have a hankering for hotspring?  The Farm House Natural Cheeses is a small family dairy farm located in Agassiz, just beside Harrison.  It is owned by Deborah-Amrein Boyes and her husband, George Boyes. Happy cows and goats graze their  fields and  produce the  fresh milk used for the cheeses made on farm.   It’s old school fermiere cheese and so close to me, I can almost taste it.

Debra and her family moved to this farm in 1986. They only started making cheese in 2004 as a response to changes in the dairy industry- it was time to either grow or diversify.  George grew up on a dairy farm in England and Debra lived in the Swiss Alps for 10 years and learned cheesemaking there, so it seemed like a natural fit. The entire family is involved in the work on the farm. George looks after the animals and the farm operation, and Debra does the cheesemaking.

This farm also offers farm tours.  Visitors can connect with the farmer and the animals while touring the farm and also while visiting the  on-farm cheese shop.  If you can believe my wretched luck, both are currently closed at the time of this writing.  Wah!

Debra Amrein-Boyes, isn’t just some lady from the valley making cheese (not that there’s anything wrong with that) she was recently inducted into the French Cheese Guild, the “Guilde des Fromagers Confrerie de Saint-Uguzon. ”  This recognizes “those who protect and continue the tradition of cheesemaking around the world.”   I don’t really know what is cooler than that.  Seriously.  Debra has also written a book for home cheesemakers called “200 Easy Homemade Cheese recipes: from Cheddar and Brie to Butter and Yoghurt.”  I’m starting to get a crush Debra…I mean, seriously!

Although I can’t tell if the cheese made here is raw or pasteurized, I am leaning towards raw as it is made on farm, and that’s kind of the whole point.  If it matters, you really should ask.  All the cheese here is made from the milk of their own herd of Brown Swiss, Guernsey, and Holstein cows as well as the family farm goats.

Castle blue is one of the 21 cheeses offered by Farmhouse with cow and goat milk versions of many of my favorites available.  I’m not really sure what a Castle Blue cheese is.  There is reference around the net to other “Castle Blues” so I am guessing it may be Debra’s twist on a cheese classic.  For instance, there’s another “Castle Blue” from Scotland that gets a lot of press called  “Fatlips Castle Blue.” Alas,  I can’t say how long it’s aged (probably not long from the looks of it) or what else is done to it (probably mould is introduced, and a lot of that by the looks of it) it’s a bit of a cheesy mystery.  Alas.

My Castle Blue looks like a brie gone mad.  It’s actually the first cheese in 85  that has frightened me.  It really is a heinous looking cheese.  It’s kind of reptilian in appearance-the rind is green and blue and looks wet and scaly.  The interior is creamy yellow and shot through with mould.  Yikes!  I am repulsed, yet fascinated simultaneously.  If there’s no blog tomorrow, it was the Castle Blue.

Here goes…

Hmmmm. Looks can be deceiving. It’s just a fabulously creamy, wet almost liquid cheese.  It reminds me of Vacherin Mont d’or-this one’s a runner. It sticks, it runs, it clings to my teeth, it invades my tongue and my taste buds!  The texture is actually the selling point here, it’s a carnal and knowing little cheese, and I like that!  It’s actually pretty mild in taste for how heinous it looks.  It’s creamy and savoury and yes-there is that hint of blue-but there’s no unctuous ammonia hit. It’s just a sticky little foray into the fascinating world of controlled rot.

Close your eyes and make love to this ugly little local.  It’s my slice of cheese!