I'm always excited when we get a new seasonal cheese in that is locally made. This week we received two 20lb wheels of Black Butte Reserve from Pedrozo Dairy. Pedrozo Dairy is located in Orland, CA in the Sacramento valley and they produce beautiful farmstead cheese. I can't remember if I've gone into what it means to be farmstead, but basically it means that all the cheese that is made at the dairy is made of the milk of their own cows (or sheep or goats). Farmstead cheeses tend to be of slightly higher quality because the farmers have a direct influence over the quality of the milk as well as the cheese. You can't make good cheese without good milk!
Not the most photogenic of cheeses, but what it lacks in looks it makes up for in flavor. The cheese is made with only spring milk (when the grass is nice and lush) and isn't pasturized, so you can really taste the grass that the cows are eating. When I took a taste, I was surprised at how creamy it was and how balanced the flavors were. I've had other spring milk cheeses that were either a little bland or WAY too grassy, but this cheese strikes a beautiful balance between grass, sweet, salt and cream. I also have to mention that this cheese won a gold medal for the aged hard cheese category in 2007 at the California State Fair.
The Black Butte is a cheese that would pair wonderfully with a nice crisp apple (Honeycrisps are my favorite! And they're in season right now... go get some!) or grapes. The cheese has a very slight acidity to it, but I think the acid in the fruits would really make a tasty combination with the sweet grassy, creamy notes. I would also say that the cheese is ideal for cooking because of its balanced flavor, its ability to melt very well and because it adds a wonderful earthiness to any dish. This would be a go to cheese when making macaroni and cheese or even fondue.
Once again, this is a cheese that only comes out once a year. We do have close to 40 pounds of it, but it will be gone before you know it. Come on by and ask for a sample! You won't be disappointed.
Also, I wanted to mention that due to a privacy setting that I was unaware of, many of you were not able to leave comments. I have fixed this as of this morning, so you should be able to leave a comment whenever you like! Don't be shy, I'd love to hear from you!
Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!