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!!