Thursday, November 18, 2010

Day Two Eighty One - Meet the Maker - Focus on American Cheese Recap, Whoops a bit late

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending a Murray's Cheese class focusing on American Cheese with special guest, Angela Miller of Consider Bardwell Farm. Consider Bardwell is located on 300 acres in West Pawlet, Vermont. Interestingly enough, it is actually the location of Vermont's first cheesemaking operation dating back to the mid 1860s. Run now by a few New Yorkers who fled the hussle and bussle of our great metropolis for the idyllic quiet of this gorgeous farm in Vermont -- Angela Miller (a literary agent), Russell Glover (an architect), Chris Gray (a former music industry exec) and of course their master cheesemaker, Peter Dixon.

A closed herd goat farm now with about 100 goats, Consider Bardwell purchases Jersey Cow milk from neighboring farms and this year, will make about 45,000 pounds of cheese. That's a lot of cheese if you ask me! But apparently the goal is 100,000 pounds in a few years -- an exciting goal when they released their first cheese less than a decade ago!

Let's get going with the Consider Bardwell cheeses we tried last night, right?

The first cheese we started with was actually two. It was two different versions of their Chester, a raw Jersey cow's milk tomme style cheese. The first Chester had a wild bloomy rind where as the second was washed with Oatmeal stout. Immediately you could tell that the wild bloomy rind was lighter in color than the oatmeal stout version, however the wild bloomy version had a yellower interior paste. Upon taste, the Oatmeal Stout Chester had a fabulous funk to it! Think your grandmother's basement with lots of fantastic treasures in it!!! The wild bloomy version dialed down the funk a bit that's for sure, but it exuded a nice mixture of asparagus and vegetal notes with a lovely creamy finish. Great with the Montepulciano that was served -- the wine helped the cheese open up for all the right reasons.

In case you were curious, the Chester is not always washed with an Oatmeal Stout; its washed seasonally with different beers or wines. Consider Bardwell makes 50 wheels of Chester each batch, to give you an idea of the scale of their production...each batch is aged for two months.

The next cheese we sampled was Dorset, actually their first cheese and now one of the cheeses they are most well known for -- this is a washed rind cow's milk cheese, named after the village of Dorset, VT. As Angela mentioned they were discussing making a Taleggio like cheese and this is better than any Taleggio you will find in my book. That classic stinky washed-rindness is off set with a nice buttery creaminess. It has a comforting homey quality to it. You could imagine this being a perfect cheese for a nice winter night by the fire with a glass of wine.

Moving along to the third cheese on the plate and my favorite -- Manchester.  A  firm aged goat's milk tomme with a real rawness to it. I love the fact that this is all about the terroir of Vermont -- earthy, rustic, fresh, and green -- this is a cheese that puts its Vermont roots on display for all the right reasons!  Named after the town of Manchester, VT, the gateway to the Green Mountains.
The last cheese we tried was Rupert. Their biggest wheel of raw cow's milk cheese modeled on the Gruyere's and Comte's of the world, this one has its own special Vermont stamp on it! It has a nice bite to it with a great creamy and nutty finish....aged for at least six months, the longer it ages the more interesting and dynamic it gets thats for sure! Named after one of the oldest towns in Vermont, settled in 1761. A definite crowd pleaser of a cheese -- good for kids, adults, amateur and advanced cheese lovers alike. It somehow manages to walk the fine line of being a dressed up yet approachable cheese all at once. I plan on using for my Thanksgiving cheese plate and I guarantee it will be a hit!
I love the fact that each of Consider Bardwell's cheeses are connected by name to an aspect of Vermont specific geography --  this is a farm that is truly rooted in its place in the world and proud of it and why wouldn't they be, right?

Overall, a really fun and engaging class and a great window into the inner workings of Consider Bardwell Farm.

In case you're interested in reading more about the farm, Angela Miller and other things cheese,  pick up Angela Miller's new book: "Hay Fever: How Chasing a Dream on a Vermont Farm Changed My Life" with Ralph Gardner, Jr.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Rebecca,

    Thanks so much for the attending and writing about the class. We hope to see you in another Murray's Cheese course soon.


    Sascha (Murray's Education Coordinator)


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