It was a quiet morning at Surdyk’s yesterday – apparently, there are few people at their local liquor and cheese shop prior to noon on a federal holiday. But I appreciated the relative calm because it allowed me to leisurely amble through the cheese case – no “take a number” for me! – and try a few new-to-me cheeses. Luckily, this new blue from Wisconsin was ripe for sampling – say hello to Ziege Zacke Blue!
A name like Ziege Zacke Blue is hard to forget, so I knew there was some story behind this mixed-milk cheese but was foggy on the details until I got home and read Wisconsin cheese blogging guru Jeanne Carpenter’s post from last summer that introduced ZZB to the cheese scene. This bewitching specimen comes from the combined genius of Katie Hedrich, the cheesemaking prodigy of Evalon fame, and blue cheese aficionado Chris Roelli, most recently lauded for Red Rock. A true collaboration, Ziege Zacke Blue is crafted from Hedrich’s family’s goat milk and Roelli sources the cow’s milk. The duo makes and ages the cheese for at least four months in the Roelli Cheese Haus cave, while Hedrich’s LaClare Farms markets the cheese.
The result is an enigmatic cheese that’s hard to compare to anything else on the market. Based on a Dry Jack recipe, Ziege Zacke Blue mirrors that cheese’s subtle nuttiness, but the zesty goatiness cuts through the base flavor and makes the tongue tickle. The blue streaks lack the strong minerality of a dense, fudgy blue – rather, they offer a gentle spice that emphasizes the liveliness of the goat milk. My 5-year-old, who loves even the strongest blue cheeses, went crazy for it, and I could not stop nibbling once I had started. With so many distinct flavors, wine pairing could be a challenge, but I’m most likely to go with a medium-bodied dry red, like an Oregon pinot noir.
Ziege Zacke Blue is just the latest among many American cheesemaker collaborative creations. What are your favorite cheeses that result from such partnerships?