Aquarian Cheese Plate

From left to right - Rappleree, Ada's Honor, Mossend

 Time for the yearly mid-winter birthday bash – my contribution the cheese course; so off to Central Bottle+Provision to confer with cheesemonger Stephanie Santos about which cheeses were showing well. I did have a rough outline of my cheese plate: it would be somewhat traditionalist –  structured around the trinity – cow, sheep, goat – while encompassing  a diverse variety of styles. With Stephanie’s guidance, I was able to assemble a cheese plate which pleased not only me, but more importantly, those who eventually consumed it.  

  • Ada’s Honor, Ruggles Hill Creamery, Hardwick MA. I’d recently been introduced to the cheeses form Ruggles Hill Creamery, enjoyed them and wanted to share them with friends. Additionally, I wanted a soft ripened goat cheese – in mid-winter a reminder that spring is coming. Like all three cheeses I assembled, Ruggles Hill cheeses are farmstead, i.e. the farm produces cheese only from the milk of its own herd. Ada’s Honor, modeled on the French Chabicou, is pure white, creamy about the rind, crumbly within. The flavor delicate – lemony, a bit herbaceous. Perfect to begin the cheese course.
  • Rappleree, Cato Corner Farm, Colchester CT. Since my dining companions especially savor washed rind cheeses, I wanted to include a stinker. I found it in Rappleree – a raw milk cheese washed with apple marc from Westford Hill Distillers. Redolent of apples, ivory hued, creamy near liquid beneath the rind, then giving way to a pliant center and like many washed rinds, with a distinct meaty character. I found this cheese very approachable. For those leery of stinkers, this is a gentle introduction. Originally, I was not a fan of Cato Corner Farm but their cheeses have continually improved over the years.
  • Mossend, Bonnie View Sheep Diary, Craftsbury VT. Blue sheep cheese is a style that seems to have eluded American cheese makers – at least, that’s been my experience – so I was intrigued with this cheese. Made by Neil Urie who studied with Vermont – no, make that American – cheese making legend David Major, this is the blue for which I’d been looking. Pale gold with beautiful blue green veins – what the French would term persillé – this raw milk cheese is both rustic and sublime. When I sampled the cheese inhouse, it had a somewhat grainy texture. However, after ripening for eight hours at room temperature, the texture became quite smooth. The aroma has a bit of the barnyard. Initially crumbly, the paste becomes creamy in the mouth. There’s a wonderful touch of sweetness which plays well with the earthiness of the mold. Definitely a cheese to try.

These cheeses available at 

Central Bottle+Provision   196 Mass Ave   Camb MA

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