When most people travel, they check out tourist attractions and a few local notable restaurants. No surprise, Colleen and I visit cheese shops. And it was kismet that when I had to travel to New York two weeks ago for work, I spent the majority of two days across the street from Italian food mecca Eataly. I literally squealed with delight when I realized this, and despite the monsoon that hit Manhattan late one afternoon, I forded the flooded 23rd Street to get my fix. Of course, I headed straight for the cheese counter and picked up a variety of goodies absent from my local shops. Pearl, a mixed-milk cheese from Maine’s Seal Cove Farm, was one of them.
Maine cheeses don’t make it to Minnesota very often (or at all, if I recall), so I jumped at the chance to bring a button home with me. Unfortunately, the lack of refrigeration for several hours (thanks, Delta, for all the flight delays) wasn’t kind to my little Pearl, as it grew some unintended cultures on its dimpled rind. (You’ll find the photo on Seal Cove Farm’s website to be much more appealing.) But what the heck – I ate it anyway – and I’m glad I did. The funky rind gave the cheese a lively zing, and the liquidy paste that oozed from the center was lick-your-spoon addicting. The paste on its own still retained the fresh, creamy, buttery quality of a properly ripened specimen, and the colorful exterior added a kicky touch. I relished every bite without a hint of a stomachache, and though I didn’t indulge at the time, Pearl is very bubbly-friendly, so drink up.
Pearl is named after one of the early goats at Seal Cove Farm whose spunkiness is passed along through her numerous children and grandchildren currently providing milk for the fresh and aged goat cheeses that cheesemaker Barbara Brooks makes on site. To be honest, I couldn’t have named a cheesemaker from Maine before finding Pearl, so I’m going to listen to Barbara’s Cutting the Curd interview from last spring to learn more about the state’s dairy industry, and I suggest you do the same.