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Cheese of the Month!
November 2013 – Sartori Rosemary & Olive Oil Asiago
At the same cheese show where I tried Marieke Smoked Cumin Gouda, Sage Derby and ate too many B.T. Mcelrath chocolate truffles, I also tried Sartori Rosemary & Olive Oil Asiago. The goal for the show was to find fun, tasty cheeses for the upcoming holiday season and ooh la la, we struck gold with this one. Creamier than the classic asiago, this version is smooth and salty up front, with subtle notes of olive oil and a punch of rosemary at the end. With turkey day just around the corner, I would choose this asiago for a cheese plate or shaved on mashed potatoes in a heartbeat.
Based in the heart of Wisconsin, a lot can be learned about Sartori cheese from their family crest.
The ship icon in the upper quadrant refers to The Finlandia, the steamer on which Paolo Sartori sailed from Italy to America in 1939; the same year he also started the company in Plymouth, Wisconsin. The two cows are reflective of Sartori’s farm-to-fork ideology, and also honor the hard working group of local dairy farmers who contribute to the Sartori brand. The state of Wisconsin is included because it is the heart and lifeblood of all Sartori cheese. And last but not least, the four stars atop the gold crown signify four generations of Sartori family members running and improving the business, year after year.
All cheeses from Sartori are crafted using rGBH-free milk, and the family prides themselves on transparency and quality working standards for their staff and partnering farmers. Here at Eastside we carry Sartori Parmesan, Asiago, Montamore and this month’s feature, Rosemary & Olive Oil Asiago.
I wouldn’t go so far as to stuff a whole bird with it, but I do believe this asiago could carry you a long way this November in whatever you decide to create.
Cheese of the Month!
October 2013 – Tickler Cheddar w/Red Onion
Cheddar cheese originated in England around the late 12th century, and in 2013 it’s still wowing us. Growing up in MN I feel like it’s fair to claim that I have had my fair share of (Wisconsin) cheddar, but English cheddar? What’s that? I tried Tickler cheddar with red onion shortly after starting in the cheese department almost a year ago and remember my first thought being “why isn’t this yellow?” My second thought of course was some combo of joyful humming, happy descriptive words and intrigue, because this cheese is off-the-hook amazing.
The Tickler cheese story is a not a local MN story, but it’s a co-op story and an impressive one at that. The Taw Valley Creamery, where Tickler is made, is part of Arla Foods. Arla Foods is a 100 percent farmer-owned cooperative, owned by 12,400 European dairy farmers, 1,600 of whom are British. Founded on co-op principles Arla Foods is dedicated to paying the highest milk prices to its owners, and as the UK’s largest current dairy company with a 26 percent share in the Great Britain milk pool, they’re able to deliver on their word. Farmer membership in Arla Foods is made up of large farms of 200+ cows, small farms of 30 cows, organic farms, and traditional dairy farms; a little bit of everything, illustrating their openness and pledge to diverse dairy farming.
The first 40lb. brick of Tickler was made in 2005. Eighteen months later English cheese lovers were gobbling it up at local cheese shops, and before long cheese lovers across the world were enjoying this tasty cheddar. There’s no annatto to hide its true color, so behold this ivory cheddar with red onion in its pure English cheddar form. It will ‘tickle’ your taste buds on its own, and if you dare to put a couple slices a top a 1,000 Hills burger, well forget the additional garnishes because you just won’t need ‘em.
Cheese of the Month!
September 2013 – Marieke Extra Aged Gouda
When I try a new food that truly blows me away there are two thoughts that run through my mind: first, how much can I eat before I have a belly ache, and second, who can I share it with? I recently tried Marieke Gouda Extra Aged at a local cheese shop and, after the first delightful slice, impulsively bought a hunk for our department to try post haste. We ordered a wheel of it the following week, it’s that good. Here’s the story of the Gouda that is both new and old world in taste and appeal.
Rolf and Marieke Penterman are first generation Wisconsin dairy farmers having moved from the Netherlands to the great cheese state in 2002. Their reason for relocation? Holland is small and the population dense, therefore given the fact that they both grew up on small dairy farms and had a dream of a larger farm, they decided to pursue their passion for farming in an area that would allow them room for expansion. Soon after arriving in Wisconsin, Holland Family Farms Creamery was born.
With milk eventually came too much milk, therefore in traditional fashion the Pentermans decided to add more value to their creamery through cheese making. Marieke obtained her cheese license locally, after which she traveled back to Holland where she spent time on a “ boerenkaas”, a farmhouse cheese plant. There she learned how to make authentic Dutch Gouda cheese, and in November of 2006 she produced her first batch.
Currently, Holland Family Farms own 480 acres, milk 850 head and have approximately 1,300 head of cattle. They transform farmstead fresh, raw, cow’s milk into award-winning cheese, which is then carefully cured on imported Dutch pine planks. The equipment, cultures, herbs and spices they use are all imported from Holland. Aged 18-24 months, this cheese has the zest and flavor crystals to excite your taste buds, arguably even more than Pop Rocks.
Cheese of the Month!
August 2013 – Driftless
I have to say, with the heat of summer finally reigning down upon us, cold, fresh, spreadable cheese is where it’s at; and if you haven’t tried Driftless cheese from Hidden Springs Creamery, you are missing out. Honey/Lavender, Tomato/Garlic, Basil, Maple and Plain, the flavors are all there to try.
Hailing from the “Driftless Region” of SW Wisconsin, Brenda Jensen is the maker of Driftless, a fresh sheep’s milk cheese. Brenda, who grew up on a hobby farm, started the creamery, with a small herd of 50 dairy sheep, with husband Dean, a city kid in love with farming. Soon after the pair started milking and Brenda had taken a hands-on cheese-making class, Hidden Springs Creamery came to fruition. Brenda states “I’m not sure how you decide, elbow deep in curd, that you are ready to quit your perfectly good job to make handcrafted cheese, but in the end I asked myself, what’s the worst that can happen?”
Full steam ahead, their flock of East Friesian and Lacaune dairy sheep has now grown to well over two hundred and fifty. East Friesians, originating in Germany, are a wide-bodied sheep referred to as the most productive dairy sheep in the world. Lacaune sheep, well known for producing the milk used for Roquefort cheese, are French, hearty and robust. Brenda affirms that the milk from their combination herd is high in protein, vitamins, and minerals and easy on those who are intolerant of the lactose in cow’s milk.
Brenda and Dean’s vision for Hidden Springs Creamery is to be sustainable, environmentally and financially. Embedded within an Amish community, the couple uses a team of Percheron draft horses to gently plow the land, and trades equipment with neighbors to save on machinery costs. They dedicate 30 of their 76 acres to grazing, and protect their land and animals from predators by using donkey bodyguards. They also have a B&B where, depending on the season, you can help with milking and cheese making: http://www.hiddenspringscreamery.com/bandb.php. – AQ