Thursday, June 28, 2012

Day 848 : A Recap of Artisanal's Red, White, and Bleu Tasting Event

Yesterday, Artisanal hosted a tasting to showcase the beginning of their campaign and roll-out focusing on small production American artisanal cheeses. With one hundred and fifty cheeses on display for tasting yesterday from six different regions, this was only just the beginning. Artisanal aims to eventually be THE place for retail sale and promotion of American cheeses.

As you tasted around the room, you moved from New England to the Mid-Atlantic to the South to the Upper Midwest to the Mountain Region and finally finished in the Pacific Rim with a central stop with in house homemade mozzarella. So what stood out to me?

Before we get there - let me preface by saying that I strictly tried cheeses I had never had before so as to discover some new American Artisanal goodies rather than sticking with my favorites...

Lets take a photo tour around the room starting in New England!

A new discovery that just wowed me - Black Madonna from Vermont. This ash ripened goat's milk cheese was rustic, mushroomy, and farmsteady yet tangy, crisp, citrusy and light. It is the perfect summertime cheese. Enjoy with a crisp white!

My other New England highlight was Tobasi - a washed rind stinker inspired by the infamous Taleggio but this Massachusetts superstar is more delicate with meaty, briny, hay notes and a buttery, milky round finish. Great with an IPA.

More shots from the New England cutting boards

Moving on to the Mid-Atlantic - 

A board full bloomy rind and soft creamy cheeses - perfect pairing partners with a glass of bubbly!

The Simply Sheep was smooth, crisp, milky, clean and round. Another great summertime choice!

More highlights from the Mid-Atlantic!

Moving on to the South....

Front and center is my beloved Grassias from Texas but more exciting or shall we say eye opening were the five cheeses surrounding Grassias. Why you might ask? 

Well that's because they are from Puerto Rico! 
I had never had a cheese from Puerto Rico and actually quite enjoyed the one in the middle back row -- Queso Cabachuelas. Think Mimolette but farm-ier and more rustic with an enhanced aged crystallized crunch. 

Moving onto the Upper Midwest...

Even though I did not try them because I adore them, I have to highlight TeaHive from the Upper Midwest, it is one of my absolute favorite cheeses!

Moving onto the Mountain Region...

With two washed rind hockey puck sized disks of briny, stinky, barnyardy yet bright, citrusy, and crisp goat's milk cheeses -- Red Cloud and Sunlight!

More Mountain goodies....

And our last stop was the Pacific Rim

By far the most interesting selections if you ask me -- there was True Love hailing from Oregon with rose petals coating the cheese giving off an aromatic herbaceous bent to the milky, crispness of the interior paste.  Also of note was Puck, a washed rind, bark wrapped, semi-firm banryardy stinker. 

Red Adler was an ash ripened cow's milk cheese with a smoked paprika center adding a fantastic kick! Chalky and milky, this reminds me of Capriole Farm's Sofia turned inside out. I love cheeses infused with paprika so this was an instant favorite in my book.

And how could you leave the Pacific Rim without plenty of Oregon Blues?

Overall an excellent selection of true American artisanal greats! How wonderful to see them all available through Artisanal. It sure is time that someone spent the time to highlight the small production American farmers and dairies.

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