Colleen and I are mourning the fact that neither of us are attending the American Cheese Society Annual Conference this year. Alas, thousands of miles (and dollars) separate us from cheese nirvana in Sacramento. But while we’ll be following along with conference shenanigans via social media this week, I’ll also be consoling myself with a very large wheel of Blue Earth, the latest cheesy creation of my friend Keith Adams, founder of Minnesota-based Alemar Cheese Company.
Though Keith announced earlier this year that he would be relocating to California to focus on English-style Cheddars, he hasn’t stopped tinkering in the Alemar creamery. After experimenting with large-format versions of his signature Bent River Camembert for quite some time, he decided to adapt the recipe and cultures to make a Brie-like cheese, in part, to appeal to the stubborn people he meets at the farmers market and cheese tastings who only want Brie. But there’s no reason why you can’t love both kinds of cheese, and after my first bite of Blue Earth, I knew I would be purchasing both regularly from now on.
Can I make a confession? Brie – even the good imported varieties from France – often isn’t my first pick for a cheeseboard, which may be shocking considering my well-established fondness for bloomy-rind cheeses. Though I love the creamy, buttery texture and mouthfeel of Brie, often I detect a yucky morning breath-like flavor upon the finish. Luckily, Blue Earth offers nothing of the sort. Instead, you savor the rich, deep flavors of pure cream, fresh grass and thickly churned butter. In fact, I substituted thick swipes of Blue Earth for butter on the soft pretzel I ate for lunch yesterday, and damn, if that wasn’t satisfying.
Blue Earth’s silky smooth paste and rich flavor make this cheese automatically bubbly-worthy, alongside a fruit plate of grapes, sweet apples (I found out the hard way that tarter varieties clash with the cheese’s natural sugars) and some neutral water crackers or baguette slices. It may not be the same as experiencing the ACS Festival of Cheese, but I won’t be crying while I have my Blue Earth cheese course to enjoy.