Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Kinsman Ridge from Landaff Creamery

Good evening loyal readers!

After a two month hiatus from my position at Whole Foods Market and the beloved cheese counter, I have returned! I was extremely excited to visit the cheese counter to see what new and yummy cheeses we had on promotion. To my pleasure, I saw that a cheese aged at the Cellars at Jasper Hill was on promotion - the Kinsman Ridge from Landaff Creamery!

Cheese: Kinsman Ridge
Cheesemakers: Deb and Doug Erb of Landaff Creamery (aged at the Cellars at Jasper Hill in Vermont)
Location: Landaff, NH
Milk: Raw cow's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

The milk used at Landaff Creamery comes from Springvale Farm - the farm founded by Doug's parents, Dr. and Mrs. Frederick A. Erb, DVM and taken over by Doug and Deb Erb in 1989. The veterinary office that Doug's father used to occupy is now the cheese making room for Landaff Creamery! Pretty cool right?

The Kinsman Ridge is inspired by St. Nectaire. It is a semi-soft, tomme-style cheese that has a beautiful natural rind. For some reason, I am really drawn to this particular style of cheese. I love the natural rind cheeses that demonstrate the characteristics of the caves in which they are aged. I smelled an earthy, buttery, musty aroma when I unwrapped the Kinsman Ridge. Upon putting a piece in my mouth, I was blown away with the complexity of this cheese. The paste was springy and smooth, with small eyes throughout. It reminded me of a savory, slightly firmer Taleggio without the as much yeast flavor present. I can see how St. Nectaire influenced the cheesemakers in the creation of this cheese, but I wouldn't say the Kinsman Ridge is nearly as funky as the St. Nectaire can be.

The first thing I thought of when I tried the Kinsman Ridge was that I needed to cook with this cheese. I could just taste how unctuous and lovely a macaroni and cheese or fondue would be if made with this cheese. I would also recommend using this cheese on any of your Oktoberfest cheese plates because it would pair very nicely with the myriad German beers that are being featured now.

Most of the cheese counters at the Whole Foods Markets in Northern California and Reno would have the Kinsman Ridge, so be sure to swing by your local WFM cheese counter and ask for a sample. I absolutely loved this cheese and I'm sure you will too!

Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Fat Bottom Girl - It Makes the Rocking World Go Round

Hello hello hello!

I have returned alive and well! I am now happily married, nicely rested and ready to get back to work! Upon our return from our honeymoon, my wife (!) and I stopped at our local Whole Foods Market to get groceries and some cheese of course. I was very pleased to see that the cheeses from Bleating Heart Cheese had returned to our cheese counter and was quick to grab a couple pieces.

Today I am going to talk about the Fat Bottom Girl, the flagship cheese from Bleating Heart Cheese, because it is one of my favorites and I can completely relate to the name right now. I am definitely a "fat bottomed girl" after not working out like normal, traveling and eating very decadent foods on our honeymoon.

Cheese: Fat Bottom Girl
Cheesemakers: Seana Doughty and Dave Dalton of Bleating Heart Cheese
Location: Tomales, CA
Milk: Raw sheep's milk
Rennet: Traditional (animal)

I absolutely love the story behind how this cheese got its name. Here's the story from their website:

"The cheese's unique whimsical shape began as an accident when cheesemaker Seana was helping out at friend Marcia Barinaga's dairy. Seana had taken some cheeses out of their forms to be flipped, but then had to run out to get ready for the afternoon milking. Upon returning to the creamery, Seana saw the cheeses had flattened a bit under their own weight and were starting to get an asymmetrical shape with a fat bottom. It was a mistake, but it made her laugh. Seana quickly decided that she actually liked this funny look and continued to develop the process, coming up with the correct timing to achieve the desired fat bottom shape. Seana found herself frequently referring to those yet-to-be-named cheeses as "fat bottom girls," which is a song by Queen that had come up on Seana's iPod while working in the creamery. The name stuck." (http://www.bleatingheart.com/cheese/sheep-milk/fat-bottom-girl)

When I first unwrapped the cheese, I was hit with one of my favorite aromas - the musty, funky aroma of a washed rind cheese. It was not overly pungent like Morbier or Raclette, but still had the pleasant "tang" that I so love in washed rind cheeses. The paste is a gorgeous ivory with a little touch of yellow closer to the rind and has a wonderfully smooth consistency with little bits of tyrosine crystals throughout.

The flavor of this fantastic cheese portrays all of the good qualities of working with not only sheep's milk, but raw sheep's milk. When you take the first bite, you are met with the nutty, buttery qualities with which we are familiar from sheep's milk. But then you are transported into the world of the sheep whose milk you are enjoying. Depending on the season, you can taste different nuances of the greenery on which these sheep feasted.

I would absolutely pair this cheese with a nice local honey or a Saison farmhouse style ale. The sweetness of the honey would go wonderfully with the nuttiness of the cheese. The slight funk of the Saison would really play nicely with the touch of funk the Fat Bottom Girl has.

Most of the Whole Foods Market cheese counters in the Northern California region (including Reno) should have these cheese available, so be sure to stop by and ask for a sample. Until next time, eat, drink and be happy!