As I continue working towards opening a shop, I have vowed to increase my cheese knowledge by sampling random cheeses and then blogging about them. Although locavoreCLE will be specializing in Ohio cheeses, I plan to sample cheeses from all around the country as well as the world. My international cheese insight will only help to better supplement my Ohio cheese knowledge.
For the premier installment of “Cheese 101” I went to Heinen’s and looked through their “odds & ends” section, seeing what was available. I stumbled on two cheeses I had never heard of but intrigued me. Below is what I found via the Internet as well as my own thoughts/opinions.
- Milk: Cow
- Country of Origin: Switzerland
- Region: Canton of St. Gallen
- Family: Swiss
- Type: Alpine
- Texture: Firm
- Rind: Washed
- Aged: 10 months
- Beverage Pairing: Fortified Wines featuring nuttiness such as Sherry or Madeira
- Grade (Out of 5):
Walter Rass, master cheesemaker for Kaserei Tufertschwil in the canton of St. Gallen, Switzerland, has been honored over the years for his skill in the making of Appenzeller cheese. By changing the curd size, tweaking the temperatures during cooking and lengthening the aging process, he created this new cheese. (Courtesy Cowgirl Creamery)
Challerhocker, pronounced “holler hocker”, meaning “sitting in the cellar” is a Swiss cheese washed in brine and spices and then aged for a minimum of 12 months. Made from thermalized** milk, the cheese is dense and smooth without any holes or cracks. The repeated brine washing and extended aging reveal a great depth of flavour and texture unlike any Swiss cheese. (Courtesy Cheese.com)
**There is a third type of milk treatment, thermalization, which involves heating the milk only to 60-65 °C/140-150 °F for 15 to 30 seconds then chilling before re-heating at the start of cheesemaking. This process reduces the number of micro-organisms, but not so much so that the resulting cheese will be without flavor. The United States FDA considers this still to be raw milk, while the European Union considered it pasteurized. (Courtesy CurdNerds.com)
Aroma / Flavor
Nutty was the first aroma I recognized when smelling Challerhocker. Although Challerhocker is in the Swiss family, to me, it actually evoked memories of Cheddar. Challerhocker is firm with a silky, creamy and buttery texture. As I continued to sample the cheese, I experienced a hint of a crumbly texture as well, however, that doesn’t seem to be a standard texture of Challerhocker. The nutty and salty flavor is not extremely overpowering but is complex with hints of a caramel-like sweetness as well as roasted peanuts, melted leeks and so much more.
Typically, I enjoy Swiss cheeses but am not extremely passionate about them or find them overly memorable. However, from the moment I took a whiff of Challerhocker, I fell in love with it. The velvety texture mixed with the complex, nutty flavors creates a Swiss cheese unlike any other I have sampled. If you can find this in your area, I would definitely recommend.
- Milk: Sheep
- Producer: Cypress Grove
- Country of Origin: Netherlands & USA
- Region: California
- Family: Gouda
- Type: Hard
- Texture: Dense, Firm, Smooth
- Rind: Waxed
- Vegetarian: Yes
- Aged: 3-6 months
- Beverage Pairing: Unoaked Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Brown Ale, IPA, Porter
- Grade (Out of 5):
Cypress Grove Chevre specializes in goat milk cheeses, and wanted to expand into sheep milk cheeses. A dependable supply of sheep milk was unavailable locally, and so Mary Keehn, owner of Cypress Grove Chevre, looked elsewhere to expand her cheese line. (Courtesy ItsCheese.com)
Lamb Chopper is the happy result of a partnership between a Dutch cheesemaker and an American cheese icon, Mary Keehn. Under Mary’s direction, Lamb Chopper is produced in Holland with sheep milk from a local dairy and imported to the United States by Mary’s company, Cypress Grove Chevre. The cheese is aged in Holland for at least three months before being shipped to the States. (Courtesy Cowgirl Creamery)
Aroma / Flavor
Upon tasting Cypress Grove’s Lamb Chopper, there is no doubt that it is a sheep’s milk cheese. To me, sheep’s milk has a very distinct, unique flavor and Lamb Chopper is no different. The nutty aroma is evident the minute you take a whiff. As you take a bite of Lamb Chopper, the smooth, buttery texture is immediately apparent. The mild but nutty, caramel flavor lingers on the tongue long after the cheese has been devoured.
The mild flavor of Cypress Grove’s Lamb Chopper remains on my tongue as I write this review. To some, that may be a negative perception, but it is actually a positive one. The combination of unique sheep’s milk flavor and buttery texture combine to create a very memorable cheese.