Here it is, another month, and once again I am talking about cheese. It being Spring, I wanted to showcase a cheese that embodies the season. There are, of course, many cheeses that can do just that. Most would also fall under the sheep and/or goat category. But for me, Appalachian from Meadow Creek Dairy practically screams green pastures and budding flowers.
Let me back up for a moment. About three years ago, I had the great opportunity of interning at Meadow Creek for one month. I took a short hiatus from the cheese counter to hike it up to the rolling hills of the Shenandoah Valley in Galax, Virginia. Myself and my dog (Frankie) were graciously greeted by a family eager to show me all about their world of farmstead cheese. It was also the height of Spring (a.k.a. Allergy Hell). Having just survived round #1 in Georgia, it was a very long Spring.
But in between the drug induced hazes and long hours in the cheese cellar, the dog and I spent a great deal of time hiking the many acres of their beautiful farm land and hanging out with the dairy cows. I can say that the taste of Appalachian reminds me in every way of those Springtime walks.
Appalachian was the first cheese made by the Feetes at the award winning Meadow Creek. It is in the classic French tomme style, aged for at least 60 days in their underground cheese cellar. The fluffy white Penicilium mold (yes, mold is good!) is allowed to grow on the rind, giving way to an earthy yet lively cheese underneath. Being that Galax is a quaint little mountain town, the terrior no doubt adds to the complex layers of flavor.
One bite and it is obvious this is a raw milk cheese. New green grass, mountain soil, and sweet warm milk shine through in its taste. The rind imparts a lovely earthy damp leaf flavor that is equally pleasant. Close your eyes and you can almost see Bambi, Thumper, and Flower. All the flavors meld into thoughts of creeks running through green meadows (hmm, wonder where the name came from?), ferns, fallen logs, and lightening bugs. But enough Hippie talk.
I enjoyed today's wedge with a torn piece of baguette and a dollop of fresh strawberry jam. I find Appalachian lends itself very well to berries of all kinds. It also surprisingly does well with tropical fruits like kiwi and mango, which can be difficult to pair with cheese. For drink I would do a lovely summer Hefeweizen or a crisp white like a Pinot Grigio. I could also see a Perry (hard pear cider) working very well with it too.
|It's also really good on one of these|
For anyone still questioning the merits of Southern cheese making, I dare you to try this cheese and tell me it's anything less than spectacular.