After the successful inaugural post of Cheese 101, I headed back to Heinen’s and once again scoured their odds and ends basket for unique and delicious cheeses. This time I found 3 cheeses that differ in textures from creamy/soft to crumbly and range in flavors from very mild to extremely strong. There is something for everyone in this mix.
Casatica di Bufalo
- Milk: Pasteurized Water Buffalo
- Country of Origin: Italy
- Region: Bergamo
- Type: Semi-Soft, Soft-Ripened, Artisan
- Texture: Creamy
- Rind: Natural / Bloomy
- Similar: Stracchino
- Aged: 3–5 weeks
- Beverage Pairing: Pinot Noir & Farmhouse Ales (Saison, Lambic, Sour Beer, etc.)
- Grade (Out of 5):
When the two brothers, Alfio and Bruno Gritti, took over their father’s farm located in northern Italy, in the foothills of the Alps, they were milking dairy cows. But 10 years ago, they decided to introduce water buffalo. Buffalo milk has twice the cream as cow’s milk. A couple of years later they sold all the cows to focus on this rich milk. Increasing the water buffalo herd to 1,000, they built a creamery to make both cheese and yogurt. (Courtesy Cowgirl Creamery)
Italian water buffalo give the richest and sweetest milk of any dairy animal, but its only rarely used for styles other than the ever-popular Mozzarella di Bufala. The brothers Gritti, however, have been harnessing it and bending it to their whims since 2006…(Courtesy Murray’s Cheese)
Although I haven’t found similar occurrences in my research, my particular piece of Casatica di Bufalo smelled exactly like flour. It was definitely not a turn off but it did intrigue me, especially since I have yet to find a similar experience.
SF Gate summed up Casatica di Bufalo’s texture perfectly, when it stated, “[Casatica di Bufalo’s texture is] as soft and supple as a down pillow.” In my opinion, the mouthfeel/composition of this cheese is the highlight. As I sampled the Casatica di Bufalo, it felt like eating an extremely creamy, and delicious, ice cream that melts in your mouth. As the cheese dissolves, one slowly begins to experience the mild sweetness of the buffalo milk.
Before even smelling or tasting Casatica di Bufalo, you will notice that it looks very similar to Brie. Although I can appreciate a good Brie, personally, I am not a huge fan. With that being said, I loved the texture of Casatica di Bufalo. The mild flavor is unique and works perfectly with the creamy texture. Would this be one of my go to cheeses? Not necessarily, but, I would definitely recommend it as an intriguing alternative to Brie.
Ewephoria Sheepmilk Gouda
- Milk: Sheep
- Country of Origin: Netherlands
- Region: North Holland
- Family: Gouda
- Texture: Firm
- Aged: 6-12 months
- Beverage Pairing: Bourbon, Hoppy Beers (Pale Ale, IPA, etc.), Malbec, Riesling
- Grade (Out of 5):
This cheese was crafted for the American market by people who know it well. CheeseLand, a Seattle-based importer of Dutch cheeses, developed the cheese…in cooperation with a small Dutch farm.
Believing that most aged sheep’s milk cheeses were too gamy for American tastes, CheeseLand executives asked the farmer to use a culture that would produce a sweeter and nuttier result. Good milk, of course, is the foundation of good cheese, but the cultures used can take that milk in many different directions.
For Ewephoria, the cheesemaker roughly follows a Gouda recipe, albeit with pasteurized sheep’s milk instead of cow’s milk and with different cultures. The 10-pound wheels are aged about 10 months, then given a thin plastic coat to prevent mold from developing. (Courtesy SF Gate)
The cheese is produced by a small Dutch farm located near a nature preserve, meaning that the sheep graze on ample acreage and probably have more space per capita than the average New Yorker. The resulting high quality milk is then pasteurized, combined with specially formulated cultures, and aged for about ten months in order to mellow out the typically gamey flavors of sheep’s milk. (Courtesy Cheese Rank)
Sweet like sugar, with satisfyingly crunchy bits of amino acid clusters, this cheese may be the ultimate cheese for dessert or alongside a nightcap of bourbon. (Courtesy the kitchn)
Ewephoria has a very complex aroma of sweet and nutty, reminiscent of a classic Parmesan. When biting into the cheese, the firm, crumbly texture is evident. On first bite, the flavors I expected, based on the smell, seemed muddled and I was disappointed. However, as I continued to sample Ewephoria, each bite increased in nuttiness with hints of sweetness leading to a butterscotch-like flavor that eventually lives up to the hype of its own aroma.
The creators of Ewephoria definitely succeeded in making a sweet, candy like cheese. The complex aroma mixed with the increasingly complex flavor creates an interesting cheese that is a dessert alternative to a traditional Gouda.
- Milk: Thermalized Cow
- Country of Origin: United States
- Region: Wisconsin
- Producer: Emmi Roth USA
- Family: Blue
- Type: Semi-Hard, Firm, Blue-Veined
- Texture: Creamy, Crumbly
- Beverage Pairing: Chimay Blue, Other Yeasty Beers, Gin
- Grade (Out of 5):
Roth Kase, a Wisconsin cheese producer best known for Gruyere, markets Buttermilk Blue but is not its creator. The cheese is made at a cooperative dairy in Fond du Lac, Wis., according to Roth Kase’s specifications. (Courtesy SF Gate)
Prior to 1993, when Roth Käse entered the picture, the farmers were selling their predominantly Jersey cow’s milk to two Danish cheesemakers that ran a business from the co-op’s cheese plant where they made blue cheese. However, the cheesemaking business ran aground and, in search of a new outlet for their milk, the co-op successfully approached Roth Käse to take over the cheese business, continuing the produciton of Blue cheese with the new name of Buttermilk Blue.
The interior paste of Buttermilk Blue is ivory-colored with blue-gray veins and pockets that stops short of the edge of the cheese. (Courtesy culture)
One of the keys to making good blue cheese is to cut the curds large and to handle them gingerly to preserve air pockets in the cheese where the blue veins can grow. The co-op that makes Buttermilk Blue uses a gravity-flow system to transfer the curds from the vat to the molding hoops. Mechanically pumping the curd, typical in large-scale operations, could damage its structure and yield an overly dry and dense cheese with insufficient channels for the blue to develop. (Courtesy SF Gate)
There is no doubt that this particular variety, Buttermilk Blue, is truly a blue cheese. From its blue veins to its strong, typical aroma, this has everything one looks for in a fantastic blue cheese. The texture is extremely creamy mixed with strong, tangy bursts of blue cheese flavor.
When I was younger, I avoided blue cheese. However, as I grew up and my tastes matured, blue cheese has truly become one of my favorite types of cheese. It is most definitely an acquired taste and I know there is a large contingency of people who are turned off by the “funky” odor. With that being said, if you are one of the people who do enjoy blue cheese, this variety is one you should definitely try. The creamy texture plus tangy flavor combines to create a delicious blue cheese known as Buttermilk Blue.