By Lorrie Baumann
Cheesemakers are offering new mixed-milk cheeses that they hope will be a gateway that will help inexperienced cheese buyers feel more confident about trying cheeses made from the milk of animals other than cows. These cheeses blend flavors from the milk of goats and/or sheep to result in cheeses that have flavor notes that might be unfamiliar and interesting to neophyte cheese-lovers, but they’re combined with the reassuringly familiar flavor of cow’s milk.
One of these is Landmark Creamery’s new Switchgrass, a mixed cow and sheep milk cheese for which the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research collaborated on the recipe. The cheese has sweet, nutty characteristics like a sheep milk cheese, but because the cheese is made from cow milk as well, it can be offered at a retail price point in the lower $20s range rather than the price point dictated purely by the cost of sheep milk.
Landmark is a small Wisconsin creamery, just four years old, owned by Anna Thomas Bates and Anna Landmark, who make and age their cheeses in space belonging to other cheesemakers. The company has just launched a new Kickstarter campaign that the two Annas hope will produce the financing for new aging equipment and get them into their own aging space, Bates said.
LaClare Farms Cheesemaker Katie Fuhrmann is pursuing a similar idea with her GoCo, a fun cheddar cheese made with cow curds melded with goat milk curds. She’s also offering Blueberry Merlot Chandoka, a holiday spread made from her Chandoka, which tied for a second place in the Brest of Show category at the 2015 American Cheese Society Competition & Judging. That version of Chandoka was aged by Standard Market, but LaClare Farms, owned by Fuhrmann’s parents, Larry and Clare Hedrich, now has enough aging space to allow Chandoka to stay home to be aged there. The Blueberry Merlot Chandoka is a deeply decadent cheese spread, soft enough to be dipped out of its container with a finger when it’s at room temperature. The Merlot helps give it a beautiful caramel color as well as a deep fruitiness that helps to round out the flavor of the blueberries. This cheese is rich enough to make a satisfying after-dinner dessert as well as a cocktail party offering.
Expert judges at the 2017 American Cheese Society Contest awarded La Bottega di BelGioioso Artigiano® cheese with two awards at a blind judging in Denver, Colorado, last month. Artigiano received both first and third place ribbons in the flavored cheeses category, while BelGioioso Crema di Mascarpone™ took home a first place best in class award in the mascarpone category. The contest drew a record number of 2,024 entries.
Artigiano is a new cheese from BelGioioso, marketed under the La Bottega di BelGioioso brand. The wheels are carefully aged under the supervision of BelGioioso’s Master Cheesemakers to develop their deep nutty flavor and delicate crystalline texture. The cheeses are then soaked in an aged balsamic and cipolline onion marinade or hearty red wine blend to create two different varieties. Artigiano is also available in a Classico offering, without a marinade.
“These awards from ACS are greatly appreciated by our cheesemakers and their teams. We are committed each and every day to crafting consistently high quality cheeses for our customers to enjoy, and this type of recognition affirms that our cheesemakers’ dedication to their craft, as well as their expertise, continues at a very high level,”said Gaetano Auricchio, BelGioioso Executive Vice President. “Gianni Toffolon, one of our original Master Cheesemakers who came from Italy with my father over 35 years ago, wanted to create an exceptional cheese, and after a few years in development, it appears he has done just that.”
BelGioioso cheesemakers were recognized with a total of six awards in the contest.
· 1st Place Best of Class – La Bottega di BelGioioso Artigiano Aged Balsamic & Cipolline Onion – Flavored Cheeses Category – This pleasantly nutty and sweet Artigiano cheese is accented with a tangy balsamic vinegar from Modena, Italy and sweet onions from Calabria.
· 3rd Place – La Bottega di BelGioioso Artigiano Vino Rosso – Flavored Cheeses Category –This pleasantly nutty Artigiano cheese is soaked in a hearty red wine, adding a layer of sweetness.
· 1st Place Best of Class – BelGioioso Crema di Mascarpone– Mascarpone Category – This fresh, soft cheese has a sweet, creamy flavor and is versatile in both sweet and savory recipes.
· 2nd Place – BelGioioso Parmesan – Italian Cheeses Grating Category – Its teasingly sweet, nutty flavor is the result of a 10-month aging in special caves.
· 2nd Place – BelGioioso Pesto Fresh Mozzarella Braid – Marinated Cheeses Category – Award winning fresh mozzarella marinated with fresh basil pesto.
· 3rd Place – La Bottega di BelGioioso Crescenza-Stracchino® – Open Fresh Unripened Cheese Category – A mild, creamy cheese with a touch of tartness.
With a whopping 15 new medals to its credit, Schuman Cheese is seeing the fruits of a growing focus on innovation and product development. Several new-to-market varieties earned acclaim, alongside the company’s flagship Cello brand and popular Montforte cheeses.
Three varieties from the just-launched Yellow Door Creamery Alpine collection medaled at the International Cheese Awards (ICA) competition; the collection also earned recognition at the American Cheese Society (ACS) Judging & Competition.
“Seeing our traditional cheeses earn recognition in the industry is gratifying because it means we’re consistently crafting quality cheeses that stand the test of time,” said Christophe Megevand, Head Cheesemaker at Schuman Cheese. “As exciting as that is, it’s also a real delight to see our newest cheeses capturing attention. Bringing exceptional new products to market takes hard work and patience, and these adventurous new flavors are showing us that the effort has been worthwhile.”
Alpine Altu, an earthy, nutty cheese inspired by Gruyere, won ICA’s Best USA Cheese/Washed Rind category, with Alpine Monteau earning a silver medal in the same category. Monteau, which combines intense fruity flavors with a hint of butter and hazelnut, went on to place third in the American Made/International Style Open category at ACS. Also at ACS, a third variety in the collection earned recognition. The Valis, tested under heat to prove its dreamy melting performance, placed third in the Raclette-Style category, under the Washed Rind division.
Bergamot & Hibiscus Rubbed Fontina, a brand new flavor in Yellow Door Creamery’s Hand Rubbed line, finished second in ICA’s Best USA Cheese with Additives category. These rich and creamy fontina wheels get their signature herbal and floral notes from a custom bergamot and hibiscus spice blend that is applied by hand. In the ACA Flavored Cheeses division, a sister variety, Tuscan Rubbed Fontina, also earned recognition with a second place finish in the Rubbed-Rind category.
Schuman’s Montforte cheeses have long been competition favorites, and this year was no exception. Montforte Blue topped the Best USA Cheese/Blue category at ICA, and Montforte Gorgonzola checked in a third in the same category.
A trio of awards for the Cello brand family rounded out the ICA competition. Cello Grated Parmesan finished second in its Grated Cheese (non-UK) category; Cello Fontal took third in the Best USA Soft/Semi Soft category; and the Cello Variety Pack earned a bronze in the Sliced Cheese (non-UK) category.
Schuman’s Cello Organic Copper Kettle Parmesan earned first place, while Cello Artisan Parmesan won third, in the ACS Italian Type Cheeses/Grating category. Cello Fontal took second in the Traditional Regional Cheese category, also in the Italian Type Cheeses division, and Cello Asiago finished in a tie for third in the same category.
The 120th International Cheese Awards at Nantwich combined nearly 5,700 entries from around the globe and 250 expert judges at the world’s largest cheese show. More than 50 different countries participated in this year’s contest.