Showing posts with label Winnimere. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Winnimere. Show all posts

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Rush Creek: Tasty Cheese or Dirty Sin?

It's hard to talk about Rush Creek without also talking about Winnimere and Mont d'Or (AKA Vacherin Du Hauts-Doubs) and maybe even Forsterkase as well. I'll do my best to tackle all of them today.

Every fall customers call on the phone to ask one very important question:

"Do you have Vacherin Mont d'Or?"

Every year I give the same answer:

"Unfortunately, sir/ma'am, we don't carry raw milk Vacherin."

I loathe having to give any customer a "no" and so after hanging up with the customer I go into the back of the shop and weep salty tears.

*shakes fist at the ceiling*
"Why isn't there an American made artisan cheese that has the silky, naughty texture of Vacherin Mont d'Or but is more accessible to me and my customers?!"

Finally this year there is a very good representation of the custardy cheese from France (and Switzerland).

Her name is Rush Creek and she's my precious.

To the uninitiated Rush Creek might look a lot like one of my favorite seasonal Vermont cheeses, Winnimere. Lets compare and contrast.

The following are my notes from a side-by-side tasting conducted with both cheesemakers when they came to Chicago in early November.

WINNIMERE: A raw cow milk cheese, belted in spruce bark, washed in beer and seasonally made from autumnal and winter milk*. It weighs about one pound per wheel. Wheels are creamy, though not runny, and have aromas and flavors of smoked bacon, toasted nuts, cured meat and savory flan.

RUSH CREEK: A raw cow milk cheese, belted in spruce bark, brine wash and seasonally made from autumnal and winter milk. It weighs about 3/4 of a pound per wheel. Wheels are uber creamy, runny and gooey like a ready-to-eat fondue. Flavors and aromas of smoky bacon, campfires, custard, sweet milk and a bit wheaty. Perfect for a 9 1/2 Weeks movie re-enactment.

So what is the cheese commonly known as Vacherin Mont d'Or all about and why do people go crazy for it? Although we usually attribute this cheese to France, truth is due to the location of the mountain that the cheese is named for both France and Switzerland make a version of this cheese. The raw milk French cheese is also called Vacherin Du Hauts-Doubs or just Mont d'Or while the pasteurized cheese of Switzerland is usually called Vacherin Mont d'Or.

The cheese is made seasonally. According to AOC regulations set in the 1980's, can only be made from September through early May. She's belted in bark and is a creamy dreamy fondue-esque cheese that people go just gaga for. Or so I've heard. Although I've has pasteurized versions of the cheese I've never had raw milk Vacherin before.

Before Rush Creek came onto the scene people would compare Winnimere to Mont d'Or, but to me it's always been a bit more like the Swiss cheese Forsterkase. Creamy yet solid paste, woodsy aroma, a bit baconish.

For this year, Mateo has changed the consistency of the Winnimere somewhat. It's not as creamy as in previous years. The cheese also looks darker than in previous years, and doesn't have the right funkatude to it. I usually wait for the wheels that arrive in March when I think the funky aromas and creamy mouth feel are at their peak.

No matter which cheese you manage to find in the cheese case, they're all delicious. We're in the best part of the year, WASHED RIND SEASON! Nom nom nom.

*autumn and winter milk has a higher butterfat content and the structure of the milk makes it especially good for making washed rind cheese like Winni, Rush Creek, Forsterkase and Vacherin.

When I promise you an overwhelmingly mediocre video I deliver! This week is Christmas and I'm wondering, what's going to be on your cheese plate?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Snow Day Happiness

That is the scene I woke up to yesterday morning. You can't tell in the picture, but the snow was whipping around. It didn't add up to any real accumulation, but man, the wind was painful.

I went out to get a few things for my tummy (I just can't make people deliver to me in cruddy weather), came back home and starting cursing. I'd forgotten bread. I walked right past the adequate-only buy bread from there when you're too lazy to make your own-bakery and forgot the dang blasted bread! Nothing was going to get me out of this funk. Unless...

I opened the ice box and started rummaging through. Surely I must have some cheese that I haven't eaten yet. There she was. Hiding behind the raw VT Cheddar. My good friend Winnie. Don't worry, no more bad poetry-today at least.

I'm not a big alcohol drinker, and I did not want to open a whole bottle of wine for myself. But Lo! What is this I spy? An emergency Shandy soda! Thank you sweet Lord!

We recently started getting in Fentimans sodas at the shop, and even though they're a little pricey, I have a small one or two bottle emergency supply in my fridge.

The Shandy and the Winnimere were made for each other. Honestly. The Winnimere is washed in Matilda beer from Goose Island here in Chicago. The Shandy (which retains less than 1% alcohol) does a great job of bringing out some of the yeasty, musty, and dare I say slight fruity sweetness of the cheese that is sometimes hidden when you eat the cheese alone.

This was the perfect snowy day treat which I enjoyed as I flipped through the latest issue of Culture. To be honest with you guys I didn't eat the crackers. I thought I wanted them, but I just ate the cheese with a fork and knife. Sometimes the simplest things are the best.

There was just enough cheese to take away the ick of the day.

*Update: as of Tuesday afternoon the powers that be have decided to do this as our weekend pairing at the shop. First they take my mac n'cheese, then my cheesecake, and now my pairing. I kind of rule today.*

Friday, March 6, 2009

New Cheese Sighting

So, today is Friday and a new crop of blogs will be posted on the Finest Food Friday section of the Foodie BlogRoll. Thanks so much to The Leftover Queen for mentioning me, and thanks to all the new readers that have found my little blog and think it's neat.

Ok, time to get back to the good stuff. Cheese. Once again we are going to washed rind land. I've been a little washed rind oriented lately, and today is no different. Today's cheese comes to us from Cato Corner in Colchester Connecticut. I love saying that out loud. Her name is Fromage d'O'Cow. Yup, their washed rind cow's milk cheese is called "cow cheese". They also have a washed rind cheese called "Hooligan". They are a bit cheeky and we love them for that.

In my family as I've mentioned we use words like "foot" and "hoof" to describe a stinky cheese. Well, I know have a new word. Stampede. Let's say that Red Hawk has a little foot and Winnimere has a hoof. Fromage d'O'Cow is a full on elephant stampede.

This cheese STINKS! Oh sweet mother of all that is good and true in this world this cheese is FUNKY! It smells a bit's undefinable. I have never smelled anything like this before. The day this cheese was delivered thank you UPS man we are forever in your debt. I smelled it from outside the store and one shop away. This is not the cheese for the novice or the faint of heart. This is the cheese for the true cheese lover.

The taste is also big. Huge flavors here at first, beefy, earthiness. After letting it sit out for a while the cheese becomes rather complex. The earthiness starts developing into moss and grass. The saltiness gets a bit bigger as well. Excellent.

Now I am a big pro rind eating girl. The rind is part of the cheese people. Eat it. At least try it. If you don't like it, fine. That being said, if I see one more person not eat the bloomy fluffy rind on a Brie, and scoop the paste out I might get get crabby. Back on topic. I couldn't finish the rind. It was just too much. All the moist, tacky funkatude is in that rind, and Wednesday just wasn't my day. I ate most of it. I swear.

For a moment I thought this cheese might defeat me. That in fact it might kick my butt up and down Lakeshore Drive. But it is I who am victorious! Take that you pungent disk of creamy goodness!

I tried the cheese again yesterday and was able to do the whole cheese, rind and all.

What a handsome cheese!


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Bad Poetry About a Good Cheese

I love this cheese sir
Say once, "Winnimere" and smile
Do I smell peanuts?

Belted in spruce bark
Northeast Kingdom great treasure
I DO smell peanuts

Creamy, gooey joy
I do not want to share this
But karma commands

I am horrible at poetry and not much better with the art of Haiku either. I don't care though. This cheese is so glorious it makes me wish I had paid more attention during Junior High School English so I would know how to best compose a sonnet to this lovely example of why cheese is good.

I am not alone in my lustful longings for this cheese. The Winnimere cheese, Jasper Hill Farm and the Kehler brothers Mateo and Andy were the centerfold of the premiere issue of Culture the word on cheese

The Winnimere was also the cheesy centerfold. Encompassing 2 full pages. She told us about her turn-ons with include "Belgian-style ale...crisp, spicy fragrant wine such as Gewurztraminer." Her turn-offs include most red wines. Especially hefty reds that contain a lot of tannin.

The paste is soft, creamy, and slightly pungent as you'd expect with a washed rind cheese although for this one in particular her bark is worse than her bite. intentional bad pun If I haven't mentioned it before, I get a slightly peanutty aroma and very faint taste from this cheese which is unique, unexpected and lovely.

How much do we love this cheese? Two of my co-workers bought an entire wheel to age themselves. I, being an impatient girl who wanted the cheese NOW bought 1/4 wheel to eat immediately.

Winnimere is proving once again that great things come out of Vermont.

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