July 31, 2014

This Cheese Doesn't Suck: Chimay Gold


    The monks of the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Scourmont, near the town of Chimay, Belgium have been producing their now famous beer and rich, cows milk cheese since the mid-19th century.  Needing to generate modest funds for the abbey, the monks settled on two things most people can't get enough of; alcohol and fatty, delicious dairy products.  What came out of their efforts became iconic.  Chimay beer and cheese of the same name are meant to be eaten together.  You'd be hard pressed to find a cheese enthusiast or beer snob that hasn't at least heard of Chimay.  
    Chimay Gold is an interesting offering from the brand.  Traditionally the monks cheeses were washed in local spring water.  Which helped to cultivate the pungent, sticky pink-y orange rind of Brevibacterium linens.  Yes, purposely cultivated bacteria on the out side of the cheese.  That rind of bacteria found on all washed rind cheese is what helps such cheeses develop their distinct strong flavors.  
    However, Chimay Gold, is washed instead in the abbey's own Chimay beer.  The results are glorious.  The cheese's texture is still the silky, sticky, chewy-ness of plain Chimay cheese.  However the flavor is turned up a notch.  Bring out creamy notes of hops, grain, sun-baked soil, and dry roasted peanut.
    Pair this cheese with its primary partner Chimay beer or any fine locally brewed pale ale.  

July 27, 2014

This Cheese Doesn't Suck: Haystack Mountain Queso de Mano

    Colorado is bursting with goat cheese makers these days.  Goats are a hardy creature well suited to the harsh climates of Colorado.  From perennial favorite Avalanche Cheese Company, to today's feature Haystack Mountain, there's a goat cheese for every taste.  

    Queso de Mano was the first raw milk offering from Haystack Mountain.  Drawing heavily from the goat and sheep cheese of Spain, Queso de Mano bears a strong resemblance to the famous Spanish goat cheese Garrotxa.  Starting with the vaguely fluffy, dusty grey rind, which carries with it a damp earthy/goaty aroma.  The paste of the cheese its self is supple and springy.  Giving way to a toothsome cream when young and a bit more dry fudge crumble when aged.  Flavors of blanched almond, sun dried grass, and minerals weave together to form a pleasing nod to those Spanish cheeses Queso de Mano is inspired by. 

    Aged 4 to 12 months makes this cheese perfectly in season for late summer.  Depending on the wheel, the milk used to produce Queso de Mano was made from either sweet spring grasses or the herbs and flowers of summer.  Either way this cheese wins and so do you. 
    Queso de Mano can be found regionally in the western U.S. and is perfect paired up with a locally brewed Colorado pale ale.