Monday, October 18, 2010

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Cheese of the Month Club

From the mind of Lucy:

Once a month, our small shop's shipping table overflows with boxes upon boxes of well insulated cheese, ready to be shipped nation wide to Cheese of the Month members, eagerly awaiting its arrival. Each shipment includes two cheeses, both favorites from our storefront and others we procure in limited quantities especially for our members, as well as a short card of information on the cheese, its producer and the monthly theme. In October we featured
Midwestern cheese and included this short narrative along with the two delightful little pyramids of cheese:

Home to America’s Dairyland and known as the nation’s Breadbasket, the Midwest has long been famous for its abundance of cheesemakers and farms. Wisconsin, for example, produces 2.6 billion pounds of cheese each year, nearly 26 percent of all cheese made in the US. While much Wisconsin cheese is made industrially, more artisan and farmstead cheeses are emerging as the national trend in finding quality, handmade products continues. Today about 16 percent of Wisconsin cheese comes from artisans who make their cheese in small batches or farmstead producers who utilize only their own farm’s herd of animals for milk. In neighboring states, both new and veteran artisan cheesemakers create delicious cheeses expressing the diverse local terroir of the region. From the lush, hilly northern states to the expansive, grassy plains to the south, Midwestern farms are proving to be excellent places for cheesemakers to practice their craft. From states like Wisconsin, with a history of well renowned cheese and more certified cheesemakers than any other state, to Pastoral’s home state of Illinois, with a single pioneer in the farmstead cheesemaking world, the Midwest is an exciting place to be in the growing world of American artisan cheese.

Pavé Henri
Fayette Creamery, Darlington, WI
Cow’s Milk

This pungent and powerful cheese illustrates the history and current renaissance of Wisconsin cheese very well. It is handmade by Joe Burns at Fayette Creamery, which specialized in small batch, artisan cheese and is under the parent company of Brunkow Cheese. Brunkow dates back to 1899, when a group of Wisconsin dairy farmers joined forces as a cooperative and built a cheesemaking facility. The company has grown to 18 local member farms, but remains true to its cooperative roots in its practices. As a product of the recently added Fayette line, Pavé Henri is made from milk from a single herd of 15 Jersey cows at Jordandal Farms in Argyle, Wisconsin. This particularly rich milk gives the small pyramid is creamy interior. The sticky rind is a result of being regularly washed with a brine as it ages for 40 days in Brunkow’s underground caves on wooden boards. With its enjoyably assertive and salty flavor and small pyramid shape, this cheese is reminiscent of French Pont l’Eveque, but made in much smaller quantities. We are excited to include this Chicago and Madison farmers’ market favorite this month. Fall is a great time to enjoy this cheese with a dark ale, dried fruit, or hearty bread.

Chevre Frais
Dutch Girl Creamery, Lincoln, NE
Goat’s Milk

Dutch Girl Creamery is young, but since its first venture into milking goats in 2006, the herd has grown to 70 as cheesemaker Charuth Van Beuzekom-Loth strives to meet demand for her handmade, farmstead cheeses. Charuth has been dedicated to growing the farmstead cheesemaking scene in Nebraska since 2003, when she joined forces with a friend and fellow organic farmer to start Farmstead First, a cooperative cheesemaking facility. While getting their cheesemaking education from fellow American farmstead producers and top agricultural universities, the pair has also brought awareness and knowledge to young, local cheesemakers with workshops at their cooperative. They hope to demonstrate the viability and economic feasibility of small family farms for upcoming generations as they bring an authentic product directly to consumers at their local Nebraska markets.

The Chevre Frais we have included in this months selection is a soft pillow of fresh goat cheese coated in chives, pink peppercorns and rosemary from Charuth’s organic farm. The cheese itself is tangy and lemony with a crumbly, but still moist texture. It’s a perfect bright ending to the summer season--great with a crisp white wine like Sauvingon Blanc or a dry, fruity rosé.

Lucy Butka is one of the smiling faces you'll find behind Pastoral's cheese case. When she is not wearing her cheesemonger hat, or maintaining our Cheese of the Month, Wine of the Month or Pairing of the Month programs, you can find her wielding her copywriting pen or riding her beloved orange bicycle.