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West Cheeses3

October Cheese Club Selections

Great Hill Dairy’s Great Hill Blue
Raw Cow’s Milk, Massachusetts

Great Hill Dairy Blue

Great Hill Dairy Blue

Great Hill Dairy, on the shores of Buzzard’s Bay, MA, 50 miles south of Boston, makes just one cheese: Great Hill Blue.  That’s pretty rare for a creamery.  Most make at least a couple or a handful of cheeses. But in this case, it shows to Great Hill’s dedication to perfection.

Tim Stone, the founder, was literally born into dairy.  He grew up on a dairy farm, but by the time he came of age, the family had sold off its herd of Guernsey cows. Fortunately for Tim, though, they kept the farmstead.

In 1997, Tim decided that just because his farm wasn’t producing milk, it didn’t mean he couldn’t make cheese at his family’s turn-of-the-century Great Hill Dairy barn.  He began sourcing milk from many local dairy farms surrounding him.  Then he took that raw milk and a unique recipe and started producing award-winning cheese.  He’s taken “Best of Show” twice in the annual American Cheese Society awards.

And here’s where the passion comes in.  Tim could expand exponentially based on demand, but he won’t, because to grow larger (and make more money) would mean that Tim doesn’t have his hands on the cheesemaking and every step of the process. He still fills every cheese mold by hand using traditional techniques.

The result is a rindless blue with a bright acidic tanginess and a hint of peppery bite.  It’s also got a salty aroma and flavor, which makes it a great pair for a Tawny port or a fruity ice wine.

Boxcarr Farm’s Rosie’s Robiola
Pasteurized Cow and Goat Milk, North Carolina

Rosie's Robiola Selfie

Cheesemonger Kate with Rosie’s Robiola

We admit it.  We have a major crush on Boxcar Handmade Cheese.  The creamery is run by the Genke siblings and their families.  Austin is a Culinary Institute of America-trained chef who spent several years in high-end restaurants in big cities.  He eventually moved back to North Carolina and, with his wife Dani, started a 30-acre farm growing vegetables and raising pigs, goats, and chickens.

Meanwhile, his sister Samantha spent that decade making cheese in some of North Carolina’s best creameries, including Goat Lady Dairy and Chapel Hill Creamery.   In 2014, with some help from Kickstarter, they joined forces to found Boxcarr Creamery.  Within a year, they were turning out award-winning cheeses.

Their family roots are in Piedmont and Sicily, which inspired them to want to make Italian-style cheeses with local ingredients, including Holstein milk from one neighbor and goat milk from another.

Rosie’s Robiola is made in a northern Italian style, and it can hold its own against its famous Italian predecessors.  It’s a geotrichum surface-ripened cheese that has the telltale wrinkles of geo-cheeses. It’s rind is slightly chalky, with a delicious layer of cream underneath.

It’s named after the farm’s unofficial mascot, Rosie the goat. One of their first goats, she’s survived a barn fire, a blood infection, a dog attack and azalea poisoning.  She’s such an inspiration to them, that Austin and Dani named their first daughter after her.

PAIRINGS:  This rich, creamy cheese is terrific when paired with a Piedmont Barolo or a hoppy West Coast IPA.

Milton Creamery’s Prairie Breeze
Cow’s Milk, Iowa

Prairie Breeze

Prairie Breeze

This is the second time we’ve featured a Milton Creamery in this year’s Cheese of the Month club because we think their cheeses are that good.  The last one was Flory’s Truckle in August. This month, we’re featuring Prairie Breeze, a four-time blue ribbon award-winning Cheddar.

It’s sweeter than your typical cheddar with lots of milky flavors, crumbly yet creamy.  It’s also got a delightful crunch from the tyrosine crystals developed during the aging process.

The Musser family behind Milton Creamery’s are a Mennonite family who moved from Pennsylvania to Iowa in search of more affordable farming land. In 2005, they expanded into cheesemaking.  Knowing that the quality of the milk absolutely determines the quality of the cheese, they buy their milk from small, pasture-based Amish farms within 15 miles of the farm where the cows are hand-milked.   That hand milking is crucial to capturing the “terroir” of the region in the cheese.

Here’s our favorite part of the Musser story.  Their son, Galen, took over as head cheesemaker when he was 17.  That’s not so unusual since family farms mean everyone has a job.  But Galen didn’t just pitch in, he started winning major awards his first year.

In 2009, he took first in the U.S Cheese Championship and the American Cheese Society competition.  The next year, his cheese was named best-in-category for cheddar– the only American entry along with 10 British cheddars–to medal at the London 2010 World Cheese Awards. What were you doing when you were 17?

Pairings: With its milky, sweet flavor, this cheese is terrific with apple butter or a sharp chutney.  We also use it in mac and cheese and even in apple pie crust. To drink with it, we recommend a malty brown ale or an ESB.  If wine is your thing, try a Merlot or Tempranillo.