It’s no secret that we’re huge fans of Alemar Cheese Company and its founder/cheesemaker, Keith Adams. From devouring (ahem, we mean delicately snacking on) his soft-ripened Bent River and beer-washed Good Thunder to toasting a lively ACS experience, we’ve always had a good time chatting with Keith and talking about the future of artisan cheesemaking. Soon, Minnesota’s loss will be California’s gain, though. Keith announced this morning that he’ll be moving to Northern California later this year to start a new creamery focusing on English-style Cheddar. Luckily, Alemar Cheese will remain in Minnesota and be run under the capable hands of new head cheesemaker Craig Hageman.

Read more about Keith’s move and his plans for getting his Cheddar operation up and running over at the Heavy Table, where I’m a contributing writer, and share your thoughts about his announcement below. What does this mean for the future of Minnesota cheesemaking?

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We’re not trying to pull a fast one on you. If you’re a long-time C+C reader, you might remember that we wrote about Tarentaise back in the summer of 2009, when we had it as part of a seasonal cheese plate at Artisanal Cheese as part of #chzday09. But there are two big differences between the cheese we sampled that day and today’s feature.

First of all, today we’re talking about Tarentaise Reserve, an extra-aged version of this Alpine-style cheese. And second, this specimen comes from Spring Brook Farm, while the previous one was made by Thistle Hill Farm. The two Vermont cheesemakers actually share the name – according to acclaimed cheese columnist Janet Fletcher, Thistle Hill licensed the name to Spring Brook when demand for the cheese outpaced what Thistle Hill could supply. Isn’t it nice when cheesemakers cooperate for the good of the greater cheese-loving community?

Especially because I can’t think of a reason why you wouldn’t love Tarentaise Reserve. Like many Alpine-style cheeses, it’s made with raw milk and washed with brine during the aging process. The reserve edition is aged 12 months rather than the typical nine, which heightens the cheese’s natural nutty flavor with a extra jolt of spice. I also tasted a hint of pineapple in my sample, which made the pairing with chocolate chunks even more pleasing. The crystals appearing throughout the semi-firm paste add an extra dimension to the snacking experience.

A juicy red would amplify Tarentaise Reserve’s fruity undertones. I know I sound like a broken record recommending Pinot Noir, but it is quite versatile if you enjoy red wines with cheese. A full-bodied Chardonnay would work as well. But whichever wine you choose, don’t forget the chocolate.

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Barn Raising at Cricket Creek Farm

March 19, 2014

That title’s a tad misleading, the folks at Cricket Creek Farm in Williamstown, Massachusetts, aren’t building a barn, but renovating an existing one — and in the process, seeking to make their young farmstead cheese operation financially and environmentally sustainable. Cricket Creek Farm is the latest to turn to crowd-funding to aid their cause — [...]

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Luck o’ the Irish Cheeses

March 17, 2014

We haven’t written about many Irish cheeses over the years here at CheeseandChampagne — just two, by my count. Clearly, a stop in Ireland is in order just as soon as we embark on our grand tour of European cheese heritage. (Sponsors gladly accepted.) In the meantime, here’s a trio I was able to get [...]

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Blue Cheese and Jam Hamantaschen

March 14, 2014

Maybe it’s the endless winter blues, but my two curd kids have been on a serious blue cheese kick lately. The littlest and I were at our neighborhood shop choosing cheeses and the monger kept giving us milder cheeses he thought she would like. She’d politely nibble each one, and then, growing frustrated, stomped her [...]

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Baetje Farms’ Coeur du Clos, Missouri

March 11, 2014

Dare I say that spring has finally come to Minnesota? I probably jinxed it just by typing that sentence. But we have had two heavenly days of above-average temperatures, so that has me thinking spring. And there’s no better way to welcome the season that with a cheese that reminds you of baby farm animals, [...]

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Roelli’s Kingsley Clothbound Cheddar, Wisconsin

February 28, 2014

We’re no strangers to a good clothbound Cheddar here at C+C. From our early blogging days, when we featured Cabot and Jasper Hill’s version, to when we nibbled our way through Fiscalini’s Bandaged Cheddar, we never turn down a wedge of craggy, crumbly, clothbound Cheddar. But I can’t recall ever sampling one from Wisconsin – [...]

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Fortsonia, Nature’s Harmony Farm, Georgia

February 25, 2014

Our inaugural #CurdChat last month focused on winter warmers — like Alpine-style cheeses that melt easily to keep us warm on these Arctic cold evenings we’ve all been treated to lately. This relatively new cheese in the category hails from someplace that doesn’t at first glance seem to have much in common with the Alps [...]

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Perfect Pairings: Sandy Creek + Marmalade

February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine’s Day, cheese friends! Whether your date night cheese is baked or in traditional form, we hope your holiday is cheesy. And if you’re still looking for the perfect match, here’s a suggestion. Start with Sandy Creek from Goat Lady Dairy, a vivacious chevre with an ash line center that has a bright, citrus [...]

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Caramel Apple Gouda Shortbread Bars

February 12, 2014

While Colleen and I love chocolate as much as anyone, we know not everyone requires a shot of cacao bean to satisfy a sweet tooth. Caramel, however, is a different story. So I began thinking – what cheese goes with caramel? Aged Goudas often are described as caramelly, so it seemed like a good bet [...]

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