This Week at Saxelby Cheesemongers
Good morning cheese lovers. I’m here today to tell you the tale of a little mixed milk cheese from the great state of Maine. Olga is our newest arrival at the shop, and we are delighted to have her around. She hails from Seal Cove Farm, a gorgeous patch o’ goat farm tucked into a pine tree festooned inlet in Lamoine, Maine.
I had the chance to make Olga’s acquaintance this past September while up in Maine for the Common Ground Fair. Barbara Brooks, cheese maker extraordinaire at Seal Cove, was nice enough to let me come and stay for the day, helping her milk the goats and tasting not a little bit of yummy cheese along the way.
Olga is the fruit of a lovely experiment pioneered by Barbara and her Ukrainian intern, Olga. Much like newly discovered planets or elements on the periodic table, it’s only appropriate that such a successful innovation be named after its creator! Olga (the person, not the cheese) was interning in the United States while completing her dairy science degree and got it into her head that Seal Cove should make a washed-rind cheese like the ones she was ogling in the scores of cheese books around the farm. Coming from a land of fresh cheese and kefir, this was a grand departure from tradition, but she and Barbara persevered and knocked out the first batch last winter.
Barbara herself said, ‘It was during hunting season, and those cheeses could have protected many a hunter, they were such a bright shade of orange!’ The vigorous washing of the cheeses had rendered the rinds uber-pungent, uber-orange and uber-sticky to boot… Yummy to say the least, but a bit too volatile for her taste. So, it was back to the drawing board to see what she could tweak to make the cheese a bit finer and milder mannered.
Enter the Olga that we now know and love. Made from a mix of goats’ milk from her own herd and organic cows’ milk from a neighboring farm, this Olga hits you with a one two punch of flavor, starting with a bright and buttery blast from the cows’ milk and followed by the mellow musky flavor of late fall goats’ milk. The aging of the cheese gives it a firm and dignified paste, with a lingering caramel-toned sweetness on the finish. And though Olga (the cheese not the person) is still washed during the maturation process, it is no longer stinky or as in-your-face as the first incarnation was. These Olgas are crusted with golden-hued rinds that taste of white pepper and pure goat goodness.
So, roll out the welcome wagon for good old Olga, and come on in for a bite!