The best cheeses of the season are ripe for the picking! When we’re falling headlong into the dog days of summer and the corn, peaches, and berries are ripe at the farmer’s market, the sheep and goat cheeses of the year are reaching their apex of diversity (and deliciousness too!) This trio features the first batches of the year of some of the most incredible small production cheese in America. To us, it represents what we do best here at Saxelby Cheesemongers. Though the wait can be maddening, when these cheeses finally show their faces each year it’s cause for a great big cheese eating party! Try them and we know you’ll agree!
Ben Nevis – Raw sheeps’ milk. Bonnieview Farm, Vermont
Named after the tallest mountain in Scotland, Ben Nevis is an interestingly shaped jewel of a cheese from Bonnieview Farm. The aging of this cheese can range from quite young, just three or four months, to downright old and rustic. Each wheel is pressed by hand, resulting in a texture that is less chewy and more creamy. Grassy, bright and citrusy when young, Ben Nevis resembles a good young pecorino. The striking natural rind is mottled with blue-green, gray, and purplish molds… you might mistake it for a rock if you didn’t know it was a wheel of cheese! The batch that we’re eating now is the first batch of 2016 – it is smooth, creamy and squidgy in texture. The sheepy flavors are mellow and buttery, and are highlighted by bright and sweet notes.
Summer Snow – Pasteurized sheeps’ milk. Woodcock Farm, Vermont
A light and creamy sheeps’ milk cheese made in the camembert style. The name alludes to the cheese’s fluffy white rind, reminiscent of the snow capped peaks that surround the town of Weston, Vermont come wintertime. Buttery, lemony, and a touch nutty when young, Summer Snow develops a sweeter and more pronounced sheepy flavor as it ages. Only available during the summer and early fall – We got our first wheels in mid-May and expect this cheese to last through September. A true summertime delight – try Summer Snow drizzled with honey or with cooked fruit as a condiment.
Twig Wheel – Raw goat and cows’ milk. Twig Farm, Vermont
This washed rind mixed milk cheese really shines! Aged for about three months, Twig wheel is supple and creamy, with a vibrant, fruity and pungent flavor. The semi-firm paste is delicious, well-rounded, and packed with the diverse vegetal flavors present as a result of the animals’ diet of brambles, shrubs, and pasture. The goat milk comes from Twig’s herd of 40 milking goats, and the cows’ milk comes from the Crawford Farm, just a few miles away. Twig Wheel is washed with the lees of a hard cider also made by master fermenter (aka cheesemaker) Michael Lee, creating an extra depth of flavor and meaty funk. When Michael isn’t making cheese or tending his goats, he’s out foraging for forgotten apple varieties in Vermont’s Champlain Valley which he uses to make incredible ciders. The damp, slightly sour, leaf pile in autumn quality in his ciders is truly apparent in this cheese. The musk of the goats’ milk and butterfat of both the goat and cows’ milk in the cheese complements the pungent funk of the rind in a way that makes these mongers want to shout from the hilltops!