St Sauveur des Basques
Every once in a while my cheesemonger at Plum Market in West Bloomfield, Michigan manages confound me with a mystery cheese that really blows my mind with fabulous flavor yet little information. Recently, she recommended a new little washed-rind square of sheeps milk called St Sauveur des Basques from Agour Fromages. I’m pretty good when it comes to finding information about cheese, but this one really had me stumped. All I could manage to learn on my own was from the Epicure Foods website;
“St Sauveur des Basques is a very unique soft ripened cheese made with sheep’s milk and packed in a very nice square wooden box. The St Sauveur cheese was the first cheese Agour produced in their new facility on the Iraty road to the mountains.”
This tiny bit of information and that the price point was a whopping $42.99 a square (my sample was considerably less at $12.99, yet is sadly out of stock) wasn’t enough to satisfy my curiosity. So I called up Murray’s Cheese in New York City and spoke with Affineur (Cave Master), Brian Ralph find out more about this funky French fromage. Continue reading
Harbison cheese with hand forged spoon from Beekman 1802
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.
Constant Bliss by Jasper Hill Farm aged one month in cheese safe
As a cheesemonger-in-training, I typically follow the rules when handling my cheese selections. Fresh fromages like chevres should be served sooner rather than later, age gouda can be stored up to a few months with proper care and temperature control, etc. There are reasons for these rules, including preserving integrity of the taste and complexity of the rind or control of the acidity, and I respect them. However, there comes a time when I throw caution to the wind to see just how far I can take a cheese, how long I can let it mature before it goes past its prime. Such is the case with my recent purchase of Jasper Hill’s Constant Bliss.
For those not in the know, Constant Bliss was the first cheese produced at Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro, VT. This complex fromage is made from pasteurized, uncooled evening milk of the farm’s Ayrshire cows and aged a mere 60 days. Most recognize Constant Bliss by its bloomy white rind which hides a creamy underlayer of fatty paste, followed by a more substantial and pillowy center. In its early stage, each layer has a distinct flavor, the delicate rind is earthy without being too assertive, followed by the thin layer of sweet cream, ending in a lemony center. By aging my wheel for a month in my cheese safe, not only did the flavors intensify, but the actual structure of the cheese took on a whole new life. A fantastically mouth-watering life. Continue reading