Oh, Nettle Peak, how much I wanted to embrace you and declare you my new favorite! You have the right pedigree: You’re made at Nettle Meadow Farm, home of the revered Kunik. You look like Haystack Peak, which we applauded three springs ago for its fresh, spring-like flavor. But sadly, the reality didn’t live up to the promise. After many, many tastes (yes, of course I still finished it – do you think I’d leave any cheese behind?), I can’t sing your praises. Not without a handful of chocolate-covered berries on side, that is.
Nettle Peak is the latest cheesy creation from New York’ Nettle Meadow Farm, where goats graze on nettle and herbs to infuse their milk with the flavors. The bloomy rind is dusted with black ash, so the pyramid closely resembles the famed French Valencay (with which we also had issues back in 2009). Cutting into my flat-top fromage, I expected Nettle Peak to taste clean and milky but have some tang from the ash. However, no tang was to be had – each bite was flat and, truthfully, boring. The flavor was somewhat improved by pairing the cheese with those sweet berries, but an artisan cheese should be able to stand on its own as well.
There’s a chance I got a very, very young sample, so the flavors hadn’t fully developed yet, but I’ve had more luck with days-old chevre than with Nettle Peak. I’m willing to give it another shot, though, because I don’t like to discount the work of cheesemakers we love. We’re pulling for you, Nettle Peak! The champagne is on ice for your second debut.