Since Jill is our resident Wisconsin expert, I’m working on becoming the Vermont cheese guru — as several Vermont cheesemakers are represented on the Wine Spectator list, and they seem to be more readily available in DC area cheese shops than in the Midwest. (One of these days I’ll actually get up there myself, but in the meantime you can join me in living vicariously through Cookography‘s Vermont cheese tour. ) If you do spot Vermont’s fine cheeses in your local shops, definitely give them a try. The crisp Vermont air adds something to our East Coast dairy state’s milk that you generally only find in Europe’s Alpine cheeses. This week’s Vermont Ayr is a fine example.
This semi-hard aged cheese has the sweet, musty aroma of ripe pineapple, and the sweetness is evident in the flavor as well. The Crawford Family Farm’s small herd of heritage-breed Ayrshire cows – meet a few of their cows on the website – graze on a blend of clover and alfalfa, and produce a high quality, high butterfat (and rBST-free) raw milk used solely for their signature cheese, Vermont Ayr. The Crawfords, three siblings who took up cheesemaking to save the family dairy farm, carefully choose only the highest quality milk from a select few of the cows for each batch of Vermont Ayr. The curds are cave-aged three months, resulting in a sweet, slightly nutty, smooth cheese. Delicious on its own, or with a crisp Riesling that balances the cheese’s sweet notes.