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“Jasper HIll and Cabot Creamery's Fantastic Clothbound Cheddar”
Do you love cheddar cheese? Well, we've got a great one for you to try this month. Cabot Clothbound Cheddar is produced in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont by Cabot Creamery in partnership with the Cellars at Jasper Hill. It's a traditional clothbound cheddar made from cow's milk that's aged for 10-14 months and it's a cheese that resident Cheese Wiz Sasha Davies (formerly of Marlow & Sons and author of the blog Cheese by Hand) absolutely loves. I happen to heartily agree with her, and think you will too. Here's why!
What hasn’t been said about Andy and Mateo Kehler since they started making cheese in Greensboro, VT back in 2002? They have achieved near-cult status in the artisan cheese industry and rightly so. They make delicious cheeses and they also stand for something bigger than cheese- their grand intention is to revitalize Vermont’s working landscape by creating sustainable business opportunities for dairy farmers and other agricultural businesses.
This cheese is the product of the Kehler’s collaboration with Cabot Creamery, one of Vermont’s oldest farmer-owned cooperative creameries. Cabot began working on a traditional cheddar recipe, taking their time to identify a combination of cultures that would generate a unique flavor profile. They created something totally unique to the Northeast and, more importantly, distinct from the well-known English counterparts.
The clothbound cheddar was radically different from the myriad of products in Cabot’s collection and would require very specific labor and care during its aging. Knowing that aging this type of cheese was not within their area of expertise Cabot approached some cheesemakers who were doing a beautiful job aging cheeses with all sorts of natural rinds (some clothbound too) in Vermont- Jasper Hill Farm.
Since the forging of this partnership Cabot Clothbound has been decorated with one of the highest honors in the world of American cheesemaking- the prized Best in Show award presented annually at the American Cheese Society conference. The Cabot Clothbound project has also created a unique opportunity for Jasper Hill Farm to build an expansive cheese aging facility in Northern Vermont- truly the first of its kind in the United States.
Not only does this new aging facility benefit Cabot Creamery and Jasper Hill Farm but also cheesemakers throughout Vermont and ultimately cheese consumers around the country. The facility, aptly named The Cellars at Jasper Hill, creates an opportunity for the cheesemakers in that region to hand off aging and distribution to the qualified staff at the Cellars. Not only does this mean cheesemakers can narrow their focus but also that new, often more cost-effective shipping opportunities will become available for these cheeses because of the consolidated volume coming out of the Cellars.
Anyone who has been following Andy and Mateo Kehler since they unleashed their ever popular line of cheeses onto the market will not be surprised to learn that they are revolutionizing the landscape of American artisan cheese yet again.
Coming from a cheesemonger’s perspective, Cabot Clothbound cheddar is a cheese that has been perfectly designed to please the American palette. The flavors are a combination of savory and sweet that is strong enough to please those mouths that like a bit of flavor abuse but not so pungent that they scare off more timid tasters. There is also a lovely, round nutty flavor that carries the profile of this cheese into one of the most popular taste categories.
On the texture front it is craggly without being crumbly, keeping it in line with traditional cheddars from across the Atlantic. From time to time the paste has those beloved, crunchy little bits peppered throughout. Those bits are actually small clusters of proteins that can develop in cheeses with some age on them. The texture in this cheese is radically different from any other cheddars produced by Cabot Creamery and that is the result of differences in the make process and also a completely different aging process.
Immediately after the wheels are unmolded from their cheddar hoops at the Cabot Creamery facility, they are loaded into a truck and delivered to the Cellars at Jasper Hill. Once there, they are bandaged with cloth and painted with lard. The cloth gives wheels a breathable shield from the elements and the lard acts as a natural sealant, helping protect the cheese from the harsh winds of refrigeration during their 10-14 month stay.
Wines- You could go wine but I would go CIDER. I just had a beautiful English dry cider by a company called Aspall. I don’t belive it is distributed on the east coast but you can substitute with any dry cider. Apples and cheddar are magic together, add alchohol and bubbles and it just gets better.
Beer- Brewskies are a dream with this cheese. On one end of the spectrum porters with a nice chocolate edge are a lovely combination and at the other end we’ve got ales that hold up nicely alongside the cheese. I would go right up the middle line with the Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar.
Condiments- Cheddar and chutney: one of the only good things to come out of colonialism. A natural accompaniment might be a mellow chutney- I recommend Busha Browne’s Banana Chutney because those banana flavors meld beautifully with the nutty, caramel notes in the cheese.
Murray’s Cheese: 254 Bleecker Street
Artisanal Cheese: www.artisanalcheese.ccom
Saxelby cheese: Inside the Essex Street Market
Stinky Brooklyn: 261 Smith Street, Brooklyn
Keep an eye out for Cabot Clothbound at Whole Foods locations and even Balducci’s throughout NYC.
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