Thursday, March 11, 2010

Fair Oaks Farms Cheese Review

All of the cheeses written about in this post were sent to me as free samples. While I appreciate getting cheese in the mail, it has absolutely no effect on what I write in my review.

I'm going to be honest. I'm not the "send me free cheese" kind of gal. True, I like free, and I like cheese, but when it comes to my blog it's just not something I do/did. When I got the review request email from Fair Oaks Farms in Indiana I thought about it for a few days. In the interest of not being a cheese snob and opening myself up to new cheese experiences I figured I'd give it a shot.

The first thing you should know is that Fair Oaks Farms is HUGE. On their website they say Besides 30,000 cows being milked three times, four million glasses of milk being produced and 80 calves being born everyday

That sounds big. Really big. Way too big. 80 calves born every day? That's really big. In addition to being the official milk for the Indiana Colts which would mean more to me if I weren't from the East Coast-Go Pats! Go Giants!, generating enough fluid milk to give everyone in Chicago a glass, making cheese and ice cream that there's also a gas station. Hello random.

In an article dated from 2007 they had 3000 cows. Based on everything I've read they do take very good care of not only their animals, but of the land and their waste. Going from 3000 to 30,000 cows is a lot of growth (Jacqueline did correct me on this point. The article was speaking of just one of the families that contribute to the cheese production. Each family has 3000+/- cows. ) and a lot of poo. But the waste doesn't go to waste. That manure is going towards generating not just electricity for the farm, but also helps out local families.

So, what are the cheeses I tasted and how tasty were they?

First up is the young Asiago. It was nice. All of the cheeses had a very plasticine taste to them so I faced them all and let them sit out for a while. After doing that the Asiago tasted okay. It was creamy and milky, but was a bit bland. I like Asiago Fresco, but this was not as creamy or milky as I normally encounter.

There was a blue in the package also. Royal Blue. Did not like. When you cut into a blue cheese you should start to see color change happening in front of your eyes. Faint veins become more prominent, blue-green molds get darker. It's like your own little magic show. That didn't happen with the Royal Blue. It wasn't even very blue. It had more of a slightly sour feta that had some molds growing on it.

Next is the Emmentaler. This was probably my favorite of the five cheeses. Personally I like the holes in my Emmentaler to be deeper and wider, but it had that slightly sour sharp flavor that I was looking for. A faint nuttiness was there when I broke the cheese in between my fingers.

Sweet Swiss. I have got to stop tasting cheeses that have sweet in their names. It tasted to me and the other people tasting that the cheese had perhaps been made with condensed milk. Or fallen into a vat of condensed milk. Too sweet. The representative who sent me the cheese said that the higher moisture/higher fat content helps to contribute to the perceived "sweet" taste. I will take Jacqueline's word for it. It was just too sweet for me.

Finally we come to the Aged Gouda. I love an aged Gouda. A five year Gouda has a nice crystallization and deep cognac-esque caramel flavors. This cheese did not have that, so it was a bit of a letdown for me. When asked about how long the Aged Gouda is aged for the answer is between six months and one year. Technically speaking it is aged, but I still felt a bit disappointed. There was a very faint smell when the cheese was rubbed between my fingers that was kind of hazelnutty.

I'd like to thank the folks at Fair Oaks Farms for sending me samples of their products. With the exception of the blue, nothing went to waste. When we were done tasting them I made a macaroni and cheese (without the blue) with Smoked Pepperoni from Vermont Smoke and Cure and mushrooms. Delish!


WAAAAH! said...

The Blue wasn't worthy of the mac 'n cheese because of taste AND color? Or was the taste enough?

Cheesewench said...

I think a little springling of blue cheese can make a mac and cheese very tasty. We just weren't very keen on this particular blue, so it was omitted.

Lo said...

Too bad about that blue! I love the flavor it brings to mac & cheese. But the smoked pepperoni might make up for it... :)