29 December 2022

Go for the (Cougar) Gold!

From Washington State University Creamery in Pullman, WA comes Cougar Gold: a delightful sharp white cheddar (despite the "Gold" in the moniker) sourced from real cows in Washington state. 

Weighing in at nearly two pounds, this fromage arrived in the mail in a tin can. According to the user manual, this cheese can be stored (refrigerated and unopened) indefinitely, becoming "sharper, more flavorful, drier and crumbly with age". It's a substantial amount of cheese, so plan for how you'll use or preserve it.

After opening and extraction, you're left with a delightful cheddar wheel:

Much softer than previous cheddars we've sampled, Cougar Gold is simultaneously creamy and sharp. Despite warning in the user manual that the cheese may crumble, we found it quite supple to cut and enjoy. There's a notable freshness to the flavor and the texture. We paired Cougar Gold with a local Hazy IPA, which mellowed the cheese in a pleasant way - accenting the nuttiness of the cheddar. As additional accouterments, we tried house made seeded crackers with dried apricots, both pairing nicely.

The user manual also includes a fantastic recipe for mac and cheese which is worth the effort:

We were so taken with Cougar Gold that we went back and tried the WSU's basil infused, jack style "Viking" cheese, which is also superb:

Order online and give them a try!

25 November 2020

A Fiscalini Farmstead Trio

Cheesy greetings, gentle readers!

Out of Fiscalini Farmstead in Modesto, CA, this post brings us a California cheese trifecta. All raw cow milk, the Signature Sample Set offers an introduction to the fantastic fromage world of Fiscalini:

Fromage Du Mois has had previous dalliances with Fiscalini, and it was a privilege to finally sit down for a dedicated tasting of this producer (at home, of course). Chedda Gabler and Goudacris paired these cheeses with a French Sauvignon Blanc, some rosemary crackers, and a bit of smoked black cod. 


A "hand crafted Swiss alpine style cheese", initial reactions ranged from "smooth" to "agreeable": a cheese one could eat all day. If it were a beer, it would be sessionable. A perhaps too subtle beginning that didn't stand up to the flavors yet to come. Although pleasant, this cheese simply didn't pop in contrast to the others in this tasting. It was a good cheese to start with, though. With the wine pairing we observed reduced dryness, but otherwise minimal flavor change.

San Joaquin Gold

A striking cheese resembling stately, crumbling Greek marble of antiquity. Chedda's initial taste reaction: "Mmmmm, mmmm. Good. I like its nuttiness. It's like eating a stick of nutty butter in a really good way". I noted the pleasant saltiness in the afterglow that paired nicely with the peppery aftertaste of the 12 month aged Old World Cheddar. There was a roughness (almost dryness) that pushes you towards that glass of Sauvignon Blanc - which pairs tremendously with this cheese. The wine brings out the spice of the fromage, while the fromage, in turn, highlights the mineral notes of the wine.

Old World Aged Cheddar

As noted, all the cheeses were raw milk, making the Old World Aged Cheddar unlike most American made cheddars. What defines a cheddar, you might ask? It's the "cheddaring" or milling process used in production: the repeated cutting and piling of the curd. This cheddar is cloth bound in the English style (perhaps apparent from the name of the cheese). Older cheddar is better - and this cheddar clocks in at a cool 14 months old. 

Cheddar Fun Fact:

"Among the thousands of wedding gifts presented to Queen Victoria during the 1840 celebration of her nuptials to Albert was a mammoth 1,250-pound, 9-foot-diameter Cheddar, produced at a cooperative by cheesemakers from two villages. Perhaps baffled by how to serve it, she sent the cheese off on a tour of England. When attempts were made to return it to her, she refused to take it back." - Steven Jenkins, Cheese Primer

This cheese has a delightful tang and sharpness with a peppery after taste. This spice also played nicely with the wine (the pear notes really popped) - and the contrast with the San Joaquin gold was delightful. You'll want to taste these two cheeses back to back.

In the words of our guru, Steven Jenkins, "Serve cheddar anytime you feel like adding something wonderful to your life". 

Will do, Steven!

Les Duex Moulins Sauvignon Blanc

A wine that gives "tilting at windmills" a whole new meaning. An affordable, mellow bottle that pairs nicely with all three cheeses we tasted - with notes of fruit and minerality. Its profile change with the San Joaquin Gold and the Old World Cheddar was particularly fun and enjoyable. 

Until next time!

28 October 2014

Charted Cheese Wheel

Came across this graphical cheese wheel. Missing a bunch of good varieties but good eye cheese, nonetheless. You can purchase it here.

19 May 2014

Just Do It (Yourself): From the Annals of At-Home Cheesemaking

Making cheese can be enjoyable, cost-effective, and easy.   Just ask Charlie White, a close friend of FDM, who endeavored such a feat more than 7 years ago. During that year, notable for Barry Bonds' anointment as new home-run King (with asterisk) and Apple's unveiling of its first iPhone, White Farms' brought us its premiere batch of Parmigiana-Reggiano.  That fromage was reported to be, simultaneously, "semi-tart" and "semi-sweet" and was able to heighten the "senses" with its "complexity" and "rich nutiness".

Seven years and 4 iPhone versions later, following in the footsteps of White Farms for outstanding artisanal cheese production, Lee Street Dairy delighted FDM this week with its inaurgural fromage. Their cheese was a moderately sharp, delicious wheel of 7-month farmhouse white cheddar (see pictures- above/below, with with bread and crackers).

Lee Street's Paris Wallace and Kristen Lynch, amateur cheesemongers based out of Cambridge, MA, started with Ricki's Basic Cheesemaking Kit in October 2013. What makes this kit so useful is that it comes with everything you need: a basket mold, vegetable rennet, re-usable cheesecloth, the starter bacterial cultures, and recipes.  Farmhouse cheddar is just one of the eight different cheeses you can make with this kit-- Ricotta, Gouda, and Colby are other delights.   

Wallace and Lynch's wheel had the sharpness that you want in a cheddar, but was also appropriately dry and crumbly-- these features usually tend to separate "farmhouse cheddars" from traditional (firmer) cheddars. The difference in texture probably arises because farmhouse cheddars are made by hand and wrapped in cloth, allowing the cheese to "breathe" while ripening. Most traditional or commercially-produced cheddars are wrapped in plastic or wax after the cheddaring process, which prevents the cheese from aging further.

FDM looks forward to keeping up with Lee Street Dairy's future cheese endeavors; there are some rumors that an alpine (basement) cave at the Dairy is under construction.

28 February 2014

Landaff: from the Welsh farmstead to the White Mountains of New Hampshire

Greetings caseophiles!

This may have been the longest hiatus we've ever had from a new fromage-du-mois post. I suspect we will be back with more frequency in the coming months...

We hope that you have stayed inspired and have continued tasting.

Many years ago, we blogged about the semi-soft, lactic-heavy Welsh cheese called Caerphilly. This is a cheese that matures quickly, has a high salt content, and was a favorite among Welsh miners during the 19th Century: it was a purported salve for all of the toxins inhaled underground.   The Welsh town of the same name today hosts an annual festival, during the last week of July, called The Big Cheese.

In any case, we recently had the opportunity to try another Welsh cheese, slightly similar to Caerphilly in taste. The cheese is called Landaff and it is produced exclusively by the Landaff Creamery, a small, family-run artisinal cheese operation in a small town in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  (Despite its remoteness, there dose seem to be several ways (a way, other way) to get this cheese wherever you might be).

Landaff is a really fantastic and full addition to a cheese course . We found it to have a semi-soft, creamy, slightly chalky, and buttery mouth-feel.  It is less lactic-heavy than its Welsh counterpart, but still carries a hint of sharpness. This is a dense cheese and is very filling. Others have said it has a "buttermilk tang".