September Cheese Club Selections
Haystack Mountain Queso de Mano
Want to eat local? You can’t go wrong with Haystack Mountain Cheese. They’ve been making stellar raw goat cheeses right here in Colorado since 1989. This month we are featuring Queso de Mano, their first raw milk cheese.
Queso de Mano is inspired by a small, rustic cheese Haystack founder Jim Schott tried in Spain. Wanting to create a signature aged cheese of his own, he experimented with several recipes before he was able to achieve the “balance of smooth taste and piquant flavor” that are the hallmarks of a young Queso de Mano.
This semi-firm natural rind is aged for four to 12 months, which allows it to develop its nutty, earthy notes. As versatile in the kitchen as it on the table, you’ll find Queso de Mano is a delicious Colorado made stand-in for Spanish and Italian imports.
Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy took first for its aged Spanish-style goat cheese, Queso de Mano at this year’s cheese Oscars run by the American Cheese Society (ACS). This is the seventh time Queso De Mano has taken a prize at the ACS awards.
Pairings: Basically, you can’t go wrong with Spanish! Light-to full-bodied red wines such as Tempranillo or Garnacha, or spicy Spanish rosé. Heifeweizen is lovely for a beer pairing with Queso de Mano.
Shepherd’s Way Farms’ Friesago
Located in southeastern Minnesota, Shepherd’s Way Farms is run by Steven Read & Judi Ohlsen and their four sons. Fiesago was their first cheese, which they started making in 1998.
One of the first farmstead sheep milk cheesemakers in the U.S., they suffered a devastating loss in 2005 when a fire destroyed a nursery barn and killed most of their flock. With the help of friends and neighbors, they rebuilt the farm and the business. By 2007, Judi was making cheese again.
Friesago is an Asiago-style, semi-aged cheese with a natural rind and dense texture. It has a pleasantly mild flavor and a slightly nutty, grassy finish. A multiple award-winner, Friesago is an excellent table as well as cooking cheese!
In October 2004, Jodi and Steven were chosen by Slow Food to represent the United States at the first Terra Madre Conference, sponsored by Slow Foods International in Torino, Italy.
Friesago won its first American Cheese Society award in 2002. This year, it took third place for best farmstead sheep’s milk cheese aged 60 days or more. It’s also been called a “must try” by Food and Wine magazine.
Pairings: We like Marquette with Friesago, as the balance between them leaves a smooth, fulfilling sensation on the palate.
Many Fold Farm’s Peekville Tomme
Georgia might not be top of mind when you think about amazing American artisan cheesemaking, but Rebecca and Ross Williams at Many Fold Farm are ready to change that.
Rebecca was on her way to achieving a Ph.D in English when she and Ross (her middle school sweetheart!) heard the call of the land. People thought they were crazy when in 2009 they started Georgia’s first grass-based, sheep-only creamery.
Raising sheep in the South is a challenge, something we also learned the hard way at our sheep dairy in Virginia. The warm temperatures make it difficult to control parasites. As Rebecca says, “they are the bane of my existence. It’s a constant battle.” She must be winning, though because they have been making award-winning cheese since almost the start.
This is their newest, Peekville Tomme, is available in very limited quantities across the country. This semi-firm cheese has a natural rustic rind and is handcrafted in the style of a French Pyrenees Tomme. It’s got a rich, and buttery flavor complemented by a tangy finish. Another tell-tale sign of a lovely Tomme-like this is aroma. Peekville Tomme possesses a scent, not unlike the cave it is aged in Rustic, with Southern loaminess.
This lovely cheese took second place in the entire Farmstead category of the American Cheese Society’s Awards this year.
Pairings: Try a delicate Syrah, Burgundy, or a light red or rose wine like Pinot Noir. Beer lovers could go for hoppy pale ale or Bohemian lager.