Somehow it’s turned into Vermont Cheese Week on C+C. It wasn’t planned, but hey, I don’t think anyone’s complaining. We’ve had cow, goat and now sheep’s-milk cheeses, so pick your pleasure.
Today’s cheese, Red Vask, comes from Grafton Village, an always-reliable cheese operation out of Brattleboro. Cheesemaker Dane Huebner recently won accolades for his Bear Hill at the 2013 American Cheese Society Conference, taking home second-place Best in Show for another washed-rind sheep’s-milk cheese. But the similarities end there. While Bear Hill is known for its gentle nuttiness and fruity flavors, Red Vask leans more toward the floral, grassy side.
Of course, its red rind makes Red Vask an immediate stand-out in the cheese case, but you’re more likely to fall for its pockmarked, semi-firm paste and light, sweet mouthfeel. It’s oily, like a Spanish sheep’s-milk cheese, but rather than a strong barnyard aroma, you’re more likely to pick up the scent of lemon and buttercup. I’ve seen Red Vask described as “meaty,” but compared to the bark-wrapped beauties we’ve sampled lately, I wouldn’t place it in the same category. Pair with a hearty snack, like a soft pretzel (homemade, if you can swing it), and a fruity beer or Spanish wine and give thanks (hey, ’tis the season) to Vermont and its cheesemaking community.