Dare I say that spring has finally come to Minnesota? I probably jinxed it just by typing that sentence. But we have had two heavenly days of above-average temperatures, so that has me thinking spring. And there’s no better way to welcome the season that with a cheese that reminds you of baby farm animals, fresh cream and warm breezes. It’s the perfect time to enjoy a Coeur du Clos from Baetje Farms.
Though cheesemakers Steve and Veronica Baetje have been making cheese since 2006, I didn’t get my first taste of their cheeses until I went to ACS last summer. Coincidentally (or maybe not), my local Whole Foods started carrying their cheeses soon after, which is how I got my hands on Fleur de la Vallee. Like Fleur de la Vallee, Coeur de Clos is a mixed-milk (goat and sheep) cheese, but while the former is brine-bathed, the latter has the snowy down of a beautiful bloomy.
Coeur du Clos often is compared to Camembert, and while I get why, the taste doesn’t quite hit the same mark to my palate. While many people describe Camembert as woodsy or mushroomy, Coeur du Clos came off as lighter, slightly sweeter and a tad more barnyardy. (You can’t have a sheep’s/goat’s milk cheese without some barnyard funk.) The rind and paste hold up surprisingly well after a turn on the counter, so it has more structure than a typical Camembert, too.
I like to cut thick wedges to mush onto a cracker, but Coeur du Clos can stand up to hearty accompaniments, too; try maple syrup, fig jam or – if you’re feeling especially decadent – cajeta. Add a glass of bubbly or rosé and you’re ready to welcome spring.