The newest cheese in this tasting, St. Stephen debuted in 2014, the first creation from this small family-owned creamery. A hand-crafted triple-cream cheese from prized Jersey milk, it bursts with buttery and milky overtones. The rich Jersey cream produces a lush, velvety texture and yields a cheese that could be dessert all by itself. Located in Rensselaer County, New York, in an area originally settled by Dutch immigrants, the creamery takes its name from the "four fat fowl" that tenants were expected to provide as rent in colonial times.
For the "borrowed" cheese in this tasting, we look to Sonoma County, California, and the delightful Carmody, inspired by a young Italian toma that impressed Bellwether Farms cheesemaker Liam Callahan on a long-ago trip to Italy. Callahan never saw how the Italians made the cheese, so he had to figure out the recipe himself using Jersey milk from his neighbors. The outcome was a keeper, a semi-firm wheel with deep golden color, a smooth texture and, in Callahan’s own words, "a great deal of fresh milk flavor." The aromas are fresh and buttery and the flavor suggestive of buttermilk. A frequent Gold Medal winner.
Made on a Vermont dairy farm and matured for about 10 months, the raw-milk Tarentaise is by far the oldest wheel in this tasting. Cheesemaker Jeremy Stephenson took his inspiration from Beaufort, the French mountain cheese, but Tarentaise captures all the flavor of Vermont milk. At its best, a fresh-cut wedge offers nutty and fruity aromas mingled with breakfast scents, like buttered toast, brown butter and bacon.
Tony and Julie Hook are Wisconsin legends, making artisan cheese in the state since 1976. Their Little Boy Blue is a rarity—an American sheep’s milk blue—and it has won numerous blue ribbons at American Cheese Society competitions. All the sheep’s milk comes from Wisconsin, some from Amish farms in the area. The cheese is produced only during the time of year when the sheep are grazing on lush grass.
Make it an even tastier experience with wine pairings from Chappellet.
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