Specialty Food Magazine


Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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Page 50 of 139

Five to Know The following cheeses deliver a truly unique experience. From a New York mixed-milk wheel to a Wisconsin blue, these five selections are distinctive enough to qualify as American originals, and ones worth knowing about. How do truly original cheeses emerge from the minds of their creators? What develop- ment and marketing challenges await a cheesemaker with a novel idea? And after so many centuries of cheesemaking, are there really any worthy techniques that haven't been tried? The Path to Greatness "It's a prestigious thing to develop a cheese that is uniquely yours," says Tom Kooiman, chair of the judging and competition committee for the American Cheese Society. The society's annual competition has an "originals" division, and "once upon a time, it was a relatively small category," he says. Not anymore. The category received 90 entries in the 2014 competition, and that's after some entries were rerouted to more appropriate categories. "We have to police this category," says John Greeley, the competition's chairman emeri- tus. Defining what's original, as opposed to simply a line extension (adding sun-dried toma- toes to goat cheese, for example), has stumped the committee for years. Currently, would-be entries have to demonstrate originality in three out of six areas: recipe, texture, milk blend, appearance, f lavor, or use of nondairy ingredients. Some cheesemakers strive for distinction by incorporating local ingredients, such as wild nettles or a craft brew. "That's a big help in making a cheese unique and not capable of being duplicated elsewhere," says Greeley, but the recipe "needs to go beyond local sourcing to satisfy uniqueness." This up-close look at five American originals illuminates their route to success, includ- ing the bumps and wrong turns. cheese focus 10 More American Cheese Originals These domestic cheeses also deserve special attention. • Beecher's Flagsheep • Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk • Cypress Grove Chevre Humboldt Fog • Grafton Village Bear Hill • Harley Farms Monet • Meadow Creek Farm Appalachian • Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Toma • Rogue River Smokey Blue • Vermont Creamery Bonne Bouche • Westfield Farms Hubbardston Blue A Cheese Named Sue Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy, Colorado Style: beer-washed, raw-milk goat cheese With the acclaimed Oskar Blues Brewery as a neighbor, Haystack Mountain was destined to devise a beer-washed cheese eventually. The recipe relies on the brewery's G'Night Imperial Red, a high- alcohol IPA, both as an ingredient and as a component of the wash for the 7-ounce cheese, which won a blue ribbon in last year's ACS judging. "We experimented with a 6- to 8-pound wheel and weren't happy with the amount of beer f lavor," says John Scaggs, the cream- ery's sales manager. "That's when we started experimenting with a smaller format." The cheese is matured for about three months, sequestered under tightly wrapped racks. "That's part of our special trick," Scaggs notes. "If you leave it in a washed-rind room, it will end up tasting like your [brevibacterium] linens cheese. If you leave it in a natural-rind room, the washed-rind and beer f lavors can jump." The creamery did no market research, apart from taking early batches to a farmers market for consumer feedback. The cheese has obvious citrus notes from the hops, Scaggs explains, and the meaty aromas expected from a washed-rind cheese. From concept to completion, the effort took six months. "We've gotten a lot of calls from other breweries and we're very keen on exploring different styles," he says. Shepsog Grafton Village Cheese, Vermont Style: aged, mixed-milk wheel with a natural rind A blend of roughly equal parts sheep's and cow's milk, Shepsog exemplifies Grafton's efforts to diversify beyond cheddar. Creating a mixed-milk wheel allowed cheesemaker Dane Huebner to get more mileage out of a modest supply of sheep's milk. Huebner also wanted to develop a natural-rind cheese to take advantage of a new cave at the creamery. His vision: a cheddar-pecorino hybrid. "There's no point to doing anything that's already in the marketplace," says the cheesemaker. Shepsog is matured for a minimum of five months, its five-kilo size determined by the hoops Huebner had. "And anything smaller means too much handling during affinage," says the cheesemaker. The chief challenge wasn't technical—Huebner says he nailed the recipe quickly—but practical: getting both milks to the cream- ery at the same time. The sheep's milk season runs from the end of 48 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE specialtyfood.com

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