Saturday, November 23, 2013

Rush Creek Returns!

Hello everyone!

It's such an exciting time of year.. Not only is it the holidays, but it is Rush Creek time! That's right, Uplands Dairy has released their delicious seasonal cheese and I figured that I would repost my blog post about it from last year... with a few edits of course. :)

*Special Note* If you want to swing by and talk cheese with me, I'm going to be working behind the cheese counter at the Whole Foods Market in Los Altos (4800 El Camino Real) on Thanksgiving (11/28). I'll be there from 7am to 11am so swing on by!

Cheese: Rush Creek
Producer: Andy Hatch at Uplands Dairy
Location: Dodgeville, WI
Milk: Raw cow's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

Behold the Rush Creek in all of its glory... this is how the cheese itself looks like fresh out of the package. It weighs a little less than one pound, is wrapped in spruce bark and as an added bonus - made with raw milk. When I first unwrapped this cheese I was hit with a very woodsy almost floral scent from the spruce bark. To the touch, this cheese is very soft and I could tell right away that this was going to be quite a treat.

A little background on this cheese... It is inspired by the French Vacherin Mont d'Or which is also wrapped in spruce bark and made with raw milk. Rush Creek Reserve is produced in a similar fashion as the Vacherin because they only use milk from the fall season as this is when their cows are moving from eating in the fresh pastures during the summer to eating hay in the winter time. Due to the nature of grass (very watery compared to hay) the milk that is produced when cows eat mainly grass isn't as rich or dense as the milk produced when the cows eat mainly hay (hay is solid and passes more solids to the milk). Rush Creek Reserve was created to really highlight the richer, creamier, delicious milk of the hay-fed cows.

Now to the tasting... I highly recommend letting this cheese come to room temperature before serving. This ensures that you're able to taste all of the flavors of the cheese as refrigeration often masks subtle flavors. To serve, cut a "lid" off of the cheese (as seen above) and treat it like fondue. As I am a purist, I wanted to try the cheese by itself - so I got myself a spoon and dug in. The first flavors you get are the sweet woodsy notes that you smell right after you open up the cheese as well as a bit of saltiness. Then you get a nice creaminess along with the earthy, barnyard flavors that are seemingly present in all raw milk cheeses. This cheese has a beautifully long finish and the earthy, creamy flavors stay with you long after you've finished your taste.

Enjoy this cheese by dipping bread, pickles (a personal favorite) or fruit into it, or by spooning it over your potatoes or pastas. I personally just need a spoon and I'm in heaven...

Please note that this cheese is only released once a year and in very limited quantity. I know only a few Whole Foods Market cheese counters in Northern California have received or will receive the Rush Creek this season, so be sure to call ahead. If you don't get a chance to buy the cheese at your local Whole Foods Market, don't hesitate to snatch one up anywhere you see it because it won't be around long - and a year is a long time to wait... I hope you all get a chance to taste this cheese at some point, it really is a treat.

Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Winter Gouda!

Good day everyone!

I hope you are all staying warm and enjoying the cooler weather. There's nothing better than getting all bundled up in your favorite jacket with a soft scarf, or is that just me? Haha.

Today I wanted to talk about a fun cheese that we recently got into the stores - the Melkbus 125 Winter Gouda.

Cheese: Melkbus 125 Winter Gouda
Producers: Best Cheese Corp
Location: Holland
Milk: Raw cow's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

The Winter Gouda is considered a "Boerenkaas" or a farmhouse gouda that is produced on an individual family farm. The 125 in the name of this cheese is the farm's identifying number which traditionally could be found on all of the milk cans belonging to that farm. In this particular Gouda, fun winter spices are added... there is pepper, cumin, cloves, nutmeg, mace, cinnamon and cardamom. So tasty! I've honestly never tried a cheese like this before. It is aged for only four months, so the paste is still soft and super lactic, which really allows the winter spices to shine. It's like Christmas in your mouth!

I passed this cheese around at work today and it was a huge hit! I asked everyone what they would do with this cheese and some ideas were to mix it into a fondue, melt it on a sausage sandwich, use it to stuff a chicken or turkey breast, eat it with pears, melt it into an apple galette or just feature it as a fun cheese on their cheese plate. There are myriad ways of using this cheese and I really haven't seen a comparable cheese to this one before. Many holiday beers have some fun spices like the ones in this cheese, so those might be a fun pairing, or perhaps some mulled wine if you're really into the winter spices.

All of the Whole Foods cheese counters in the Northern California region are carrying this cheese right now, so swing on by and ask for a sample. As this is a seasonal cheese it won't be around forever, so don't miss out!

Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Bucherondin - The cheese that started it all...

Hello loyal readers,

It brings me great pleasure to say that today marks the 1 year "birthday" of Shootin' the Bries! I can't believe a whole year has passed already... it's been quite a fun journey. I figured in this post I would share the cheese that ultimately started me on my cheesy journey. I hope you enjoy and continue to come back for more!

Cheese: Bucherondin
Producers: Sevre and Belle - an agricultural co-op
Location: Loire Valley, France
Milk: Pasteurized goat's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

Bucherondin was officially the first artisan cheese I had ever tried. In the past I had been a huge Havarti fan and that was what I thought fancy cheese was. During my first year at Whole Foods Market I was working as the Demo Specialist and was asked to demo French Cheeses. I know that I had four cheeses and I honestly can't remember what the other three were. I was so blown away by the flavor of the Bucherondin that it completely shadowed the other cheeses...

Not only was this my first artisan cheese, but it was also my first goat cheese. I loved the flakey, yet smooth texture and the tangy, yet not overpowering flavor of the goat milk. Tasting it now, after 4 years of cheesemonger experience, I would describe it as a mellow, slighty grassy, really clean flavored chevre. It definitely gets a little more intense as it ages, so make sure you sample before you buy. You can see in the picture above that the middle is a bit more white and flaky than the outside ring. This is the way a soft ripened cheese ages as I've mentioned in past posts - from the outside in. The younger the cheese, the larger the chalk white circle in the center. As it ages, it gets more oozy along the outside and the flavors start to be a little more gamey.

Pair a young Bucherondin with a nice, crisp Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley. If the Bucherondin is more on the aged side, try pairing it with a yummy Pinot Noir. Most of the Whole Foods cheese counters should carry this, so if you'd like to taste the cheese that made me fall in love with everything cheese, make sure to swing on by and ask for a sample.

I would like to appreciate all of you loyal readers as well as everyone in the Whole Foods Market family who have supported me in this venture. This blog could not be what it is today without all of you.

Until next time, eat, drink and be merry! Salud!