I know the holidays are the season for love and peace on earth, but there’s always room for a friendly cheese showdown, right? Because when I tasted these two raw-milk cheeses from opposite sides of the pond at the Cheese Shop at France 44 yesterday, I knew the pair could compete on a level playing field – and the winner is the lucky person who gets to eat them both.
We’re big advocates of Cato Corner Farm here at C+C, singing the praises of its pungent Hooligan and earthy Bridgid’s Abbey. So I didn’t hesitate when a wheel of Bloomsday appeared in the cheese case. But then Song nudged me toward Wellesley from Britain’s Hill Farm Dairy, and I couldn’t leave either one behind.
So in one corner we have Bloomsday, a raw cow’s-milk cheese from Connecticut. From the first crumble that enters your mouth, you get a dreamy coating of lactic goodness over your entire palate. The pock-marked ivory paste dissolves into many layers of cream with hints of almond on the tongue. Though I’ve seen Bloomsday described as buttery, I’d be more apt to compare its flavor to a rich, full-fat cream cheese due to the tang it develops during aging. (The mother-son team of cheesemakers aims to sell it at six months.)
In the other corner, we have Wellesley, a raw cow/goat blend from the village of Stawley in southwest England. Drier than Bloomsday, the cheese can’t hide its goatiness with the barnyard aroma coming through strongly. But hey, we like barnyard over here. The hay-like flavors tip Wellesley toward the grassy rather than nutty side of the cheese spectrum, but the paste is snow white. Though aged about as long as Bloomsday, the raw-milk tang isn’t quite as strong as its American opponent’s.
If I had to give an edge to one cheese, it would go to Bloomsday, but really, you can’t go wrong with either. Or feature both on a holiday cheeseboard with water crackers and a spot of sweet or spicy preserves. And though it’s not rosé season, both would make a lovely pairing with a pink-tinged beverage – find a bubbly version if you’re in the mood to celebrate.