Cheese lovers nationwide were devastated when cheesemaker Andy Hatch of Uplands Cheese Company decided to stop making his famous Rush Creek Reserve indefinitely. The spruce-wrapped, raw-milk cheese was the nearest we Americans had to the coveted French-style Mont d’Or and the thought of not having it on our holiday cheese boards was heartbreaking. When asked if he had anything else new in his cheese caves to make up for this terrible loss, Hatch’s stock answer has always been that he is experimenting with something new. After two years, the experiment seems to have paid off, even if it is in limited time. Presented in extremely limited quantities: Upland’s Experiment. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Ann Arbor
Books have always been a huge part of my life – my parents encouraging my reading with trips to the library and bookstore on a weekly basis. I’ll never forget the time my mom got an angry call from my fourth grade teacher complaining about my refusal to participate in recess activities in order to sit under a tree with my new copy of I, Trissy by Norma Fox Mazer. My mother didn’t even respond. She just hung up the phone, came right up to the school (only four blocks away), sat down under the tree with me with her own book, glared up at the teacher and then proceeded to read right along with me. I thought my teacher was going to spit nails, but she just crossed her arms and stomped off. A great memory for sure, and yet another reason books have always been one of my favorite gifts to receive. Cheese books have become a particular passion now that I’m older and can appreciate them, and this year’s batch of fromage reads is pretty snazzy. I will admit to only owning one on my list of book gifts so should anyone wish to play secret cheesy Santa.
Okay, here we go for Cheesy Gift Guide Part 2 – Books:
A quick note: all titles are available on both amazon.com and bn.com, however I encourage everyone to seek out local bookstores or click on the links to the websites and purchase directly from the author or the link. Shop local and support the community. If you want to buy big box and use a discount, head out to your local Barnes & Noble brick and mortar and save a job like mine. Alright, preaching done. Here we go!
Making friends with your local cheesemongers has many advantages – one of which is getting the heads-up whenever a new wheel rolls into the shop. Lucky for this Mouse, I have managed to become pretty buddy-buddy with the mongers at Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Shawn and his crew are good for a call, and a few weeks ago, my phone range with exciting news of a new cheese from Jasper Hill Farm called Harbison. Knowing that anything from the folks at Jasper promises to be good eats, I headed over to Kerrytown to get a taste.
At first glance, I was a bit disappointed. It appeared to be just another spruce-bark-wrapped cheese similar to last year’s star fromage, which was also a spruce-bound cow’s milk creation called Rush Creek Reserve from Andy Hatch at the award-winning Upland Cheese Company. Could the Kehler brothers from Vermont really compete… or offer something different? The monger behind the counter told me to reserve my judgment until I tried it. Once again, my trust was not misplaced, as any initial disappointment vanished once I cracked open this earthy wheel of goodness.
Unlike the raw-milk wonder that is Rush Creek, Harbison is made with pasteurized cow milk, and the two-third of a pound wheel is aged a mere three to six weeks. Its intense aroma of wet leaves, fresh earth and mushrooms is a pleasant contrast to the sweet, beefy flavor with a hint of smoke. While spoonable, Harbison’s paste is a bit firmer than Rush Creek, yet it still has similar versatility, responding well to both table service and cooking (it’s a particularly rich and tasty treat when mixed in with boiled redskin potatoes).
Whether entertaining or just relaxing with the family, this is a great cheese to have on-hand this holiday season. I actually had both Harbison and Rush Creek on our board for Thanksgiving. They complemented one another quite well and we all gave thanks to the blessed cheesemongers in our lives.
For more on Harbison, check out the video below.
Whenever I visit Morgan and York specialty food and wine shop in Ann Arbor, I always ask “What’s new?” and am rarely disappointed. This recent trip was no exception.
Wildspitz Bio is a funky blend of cow and goat milk with an intense nutty taste. Subtle at first, the flavor builds toward the back of the tongue and continues to become more assertive with each bite.
As with most semi-strong cheeses, I would recommend staying clear of any citrus or highly acidic fruits when eating this fun-sounding cheese. Pair with just about any red wine or dark beer and perhaps some salty almonds or cashews.
Wildspitz Bio is an elusive cheese, so be sure to grab it when found as it is a wonderful substitute for the standard Swiss selection on any cheese plate.
One of the few regrets I have about my boyfriend moving from Ann Arbor to Corktown is how far a drive it is to my favorite cheese resource, Morgan and York on Packard. What was once a ten minute jaunt down the road is now a forty-five minute schelp traversing multiple highways and byways. Totally worth the drive for the amazing cheese selection and over-the-top service, I now have even more reason to jump in my car and make the trek.
Morgan and York is getting a sweet new neighbor. Cake Nouveau, the Food Network Challenge winning cupcake shop needed larger diggs and are setting up shop next door. Owner Courtney Clark currently runs her shop in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor yet the small shop on North Fourth just cannot keep up with the demand due to the close quarters. While many see the move to the Packard location as a step in the wrong direction, I am looking forward to being able to find parking that doesn’t cost five bucks and browsing the delectable confections without feeling claustrophobic. No word yet on when the cupcake queen will be taking up residence, but construction is well under way.
You can read more about this new dynamic duo at Ann Arbor.com.
Someday I hope to eat my way through all the delicious and diverse cheeses of France. Preferably I will do this in France, but for now I must settle for my local cheesemongers to guide me. I am lucky to have several experienced mongers and the ones at Morgan and York in Ann Arbor, Michigan are some of the best.
On my most recent visit I had a chance to sample Saint Felicien, a soft subtle cheese from the Rhône-Alpes region (also known as caille-doux) and was pleasantly surprised.
Presented in a stone crock with a pale yellow rind, Saint Felicien hides a nutty, pillowy, slightly pungent flavor that is not normally found in a raw cow’s milk cheese. Best served with berries and sweet nuts. Avoid citrus and sour fruits (I made the mistake of tasting with Granny Smith apples. Trust me, just say no!)
I have heard this cheese is similar to Saint Marcellin however I have yet to taste it and cannot say for sure. It is on the French cheese tour so I am sure I will get to it soon. In the meantime, I have a little crock of goodness to satisfy me…for about five more minutes when it will be all gone! Bon Appetit!
Ypsilanti, Michigan gets kinda a bum rap. Referred to as the “Brooklyn” to Ann Arbor’s more affluent “Manhattan,” Ypsi (as it is commonly called) has a small population ranging from artsy hipsters to “Ypsitucky” country folk. I personally like Ypsi, especially the historic downtown area and Depot Town. The Mayberry-small-town feel, local color, spectacular architecture, and artistic flair makes Ypsi a fun and funky place to hang out.
No surprise that Michigan’s own Zingerman’s created a cheese to honor this tiny yet spry town. The Little Ypsi is Zingerman’s newest crottin. What’s a crottin? Historically, a crottin is a small round of pasturized goat’s cheese that starts off light and tangy while young, then hardens and becomes stronger and gamier with age.
The Little Ypsi I tasted was in its mid stage with a bit of a hard, yellow rind and cream cheese-like texture underneath. I really liked the fresh, salty flavor with a bit of a nutty zing (no pun intended) as it warms to room temperature. Granny Smith apple slices add the perfect balance of tart and sweet on the palate.
Available at Zingerman’s Creamery online or at the store location in Ann Arbor, I recommend giving both The Little Ypsi and its namesake town a visit.
Photo source: Flickr
One of my favorite places to eat in Ann Arbor is Zingerman’s Roadhouse on Jackson Avenue. Part of the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, the Roadhouse cooks up amazing down-home goodness and even encourages customers to “try it before you buy it” by offering samples of menu items. Co-owners Ari Weinzweig and Paul Saginaw bring in the highest quality of ingredients from around the country and the food is all the better for it.
Terry is my favorite waiter at Zingerman’s. His love of cheese rivals mine and he always has the perfect suggestions. Looking for some lighter selections than I am use to (as you may have guessed, I love the pungent, stinky stuff) I wanted to see how the mild side tasted. Terry’s first recommendation was Creamery Great Lakes Cheshire. This is the only American-made Cheshire to date and like its UK brother, this cheese has a hard crumbly texture that becomes smooth on the tongue with a subtle, grassy flavor. A bit of an acidic bite (most likely from the animal rennet) but by no means unpleasant. Next came a Quebec Chevre Noir (center) and is the only Canadian cheese Zingerman’s sells. This award-winning cheese has a firm, dense and flaky in texture yet melts in your mouth with a nutty, herb-like essence. Finally, a 3-year-old Asiago (top right) was a surprise. Usually aged for a year, I expected this Asiago to be sharp and intense. Surprisingly, I found it to be smooth, sweet, and even on the palate.
All three cheeses were wonderful, but if I had to pick a favorite I would say it was the chevre. Next time you find yourself in Ann Arbor, check out Zingerman’s Roadhouse and ask for Terry. Tell him Robin sent you!
The grapes pictured are oven roasted with a balsamic vinegar toss. Amazing and easy to make. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, toss grapes lightly in balsamic vinegar, roast for 10 minutes and enjoy. These sweet and savory treats pair with both intense and mild cheeses.