Monday, February 28, 2011

A Cure for the Winter Doldrums

It's that time of year again. The cheese doldrums. What are the cheese doldrums you ask? They're that late winter block of weeks when spring fever is on the verge but hasn't quite broken yet. On the farm, it's the time just before lambing, kidding, or calving, where there's a quiet yet somewhat cranky sense of kinetic energy pulsing through every barn. In the cheese case, it's the time when cheese diversity reaches its nadir, especially in the goat and sheep departments.

Luckily for us, there's a nascent trend in American farmstead cheese making meant to quell the doldrums a bit, providing us with a dose of goat and sheep cheese even in the sloppiest, longest, grayest final dregs of winter: mixed milk cheeses. Many of our goat and sheep cheese producers used to exhaust the stock of their caves mid-winter, leaving us longing for their aged cheeses until the following summer. More and more we're seeing a range of mixed milk cheeses issuing forth from farms across the northeast as a tasty and resourceful way to stretch that supply of caprine and ovine cheese all the way till spring.

This practice, so far as I can tell, is uniquely American. In Europe, most cheeses (especially AOC cheeses) are governed by a strict set of rules denoting where and how they must be produced. American cheese makers however, are bound by no such tradition. Our domestic cheese landscape is extremely fertile territory right now, rife with innovation and expermentation. In a move of collective conscience, many goat and sheep cheese makers decided, hey, why not make a cheese that can bridge the gap till springtime? Not only are these cheeses incredibly delicious, they are crucial to the farms' financial success as well. Whereas before they would have no cheese to sell for months on end, now there's a steady supply of mixed milk goodness waiting in the cave.

Here's the short list of mixed milk cheeses that we're loving right now. Stop by the shop for a taste! It might just cure your late winter blues...

Seal Cove Chevrotin (Seal Cove Farm. Raw goat and cows' milk, ME)
A tangy, crumbly, yeasty cheese that smacks of goats and yogurt. The wheels are cave aged for 6 months, during which time they develop an impressive reddish-orange sunset colored rind. The flavor of the goats' milk is tempered by the addition of mellow butterfatty cows' milk, but the cheese retains a bright, lactic bite.

Fuzzy Wheel (Twig Farm. Raw goat and cows' milk, VT)
What from the outside looks like a toadstool or hairy stone of some sort is in fact an amazing and delicious mixed milk cheese! Made in the late fall and early winter at Twig Farm, Fuzzy wheel gets its name from the gray mold that makes up its rind. The paste is smooth and creamy, with creme-fraiche notes from the cows' milk and musky, junipery flavors from the goats.

Queso del Invierno (Vermont Shepherd. Raw sheep and cows' milk, VT)
This rustic wheel is a sharp and lanolin-laced mix from the cave of David Major. Queso del Invierno (literally translated 'winter cheese') tastes like one part cheddar, one part pecorino, leaving a fruity and nutty finish on the palate. Towards the rind, some rustic cocoa flavors can be found for the intrepid nibbler!

'Till next week, eat cheese and be merry!

'Cutting the Curd' a dairy-centric radio show on Heritage Radio Network

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Toughest Tasting in the East...

What's your poison? If you believe what they say in the movies, then this was a common refrain in saloons across the United States back in the day. And if the answer is whiskey, well then step right up! This Sunday, Saxelby Cheesemongers and L'Ecole, the restaurant of the French Culinary Institute, are taking you from the saloon to the salon to tussle with the wily world of whiskey and cheese. Think cheese isn't tough enough to stand up to one of America's greatest spirits? Think again. So come one, come all, to this cheese tastin', whiskey drinkin', yarn spinnin' Sunday Salon.

Sunday Salon: Whiskey & Cheese
Sunday February 27th, 4:00 to 6:00 pm
L'Ecole (the restaurant of the French Culinary Institute)
for reservations ($60) and information, call 212-219-3300, or email

Join Anne Saxelby and Ethan Kelley for discussion and degustation of two of this country's finest food traditions. Eh hem, that is if you consider whiskey a food. Kelley, formerly of the Brandy Library, will shed some light on the history and lore behind some of America's finest distilleries, old and new. Saxelby Cheesemongers is busting out some of our invernal favorites... hard-hitting cheeses that can go toe to toe with rough & tumble beverages. If you like the strong stuff, this tasting's for you! How about a little Michter's American Whiskey with aged and nutty Pleasant Ridge Reserve? Or Death's Door Corn Whiskey with a little Shaker Blue? Join us and see what happens when fermented mash meets curds and whey.

'Till next week, eat cheese, drink whiskey and be merry!

Cutting the Curd, a dairy-centric radio show on Heritage Radio Network

Monday, February 14, 2011

We Heart Jasper Hill

We heart Jasper Hill Farm. I'm pretty sure that fact is well known (and shared by all of our cheesy colleagues) but on this most romantic of days, it seemed appropriate to pen a little love letter to of our favorite farms. Not only are we bringing back two of their fabulous cheeses that have been on hiatus, but the Jasper Hill folks are coming to town, and we want you to meet them! So come on, share the love. Stop by Saxelby Cheesemongers for a wedge of Jasper Hill cheese or join us next Wednesday night for a beer and cheese tasting at Beer Table!

Constant Bliss and Winnimere. These swoon-worthy cheeses have been hiding out in the cellars for a while, but man are we happy to have them back! Stop by the shop to try the new incarnation of Constant Bliss, now made from pasteurized milk and aged to perfection for just a few weeks. Tart and milky with a mushroomy twang, it's the stuff dreams are made of. And if that news wasn't mouth watering enough... our first batch of Winnimere of the season just arrived! Everything about this gooey puddle o' cheese is uber-local. Winnimere takes its name from a corner of Caspian Lake, just a stone's throw away from Jasper Hill Farm. The pungent wheels are bound in a spruce bark girdle harvested from the farm's land, and washed with a special batch of beer from neighboring Hill Farmstead Brewery. Brewer Shaun Hill crafts this beer using ambient molds from the Cellars, the caves where the cheeses are aged, ensuring that the cheese is steeped in local microflora. Its meaty, smokey, pine needly paste will knock your socks off!

Cabot Clothbound Cheddar-stravaganza at Beer Table!
Wednesday, Februrary 23rd 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
For reservations and information, visit or call 718-965-1196

Next Wednesday eve, join Zoe Brickley and Anne Saxelby for a beer and cheese tasting featuring the Cellars at Jasper Hill's finest fare. We'll taste three vintages of Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, showing that the proof is in the pudding (or in the cheese!) when it comes to affinage. Other Cellars favorites like Landaff, Winnimere, and Oma will be paired with craft brews for a decadent night of beer and cheese!

'Till next week, eat Jasper Hill cheese and be merry!

Cutting the Curd, a dairy-centric radio show on Heritage Radio Network

Monday, February 07, 2011

What's More Romantic Than Cheese?

What could be more romantic than cheese? We've searched far and wide, and found that although roses and chocolate have cornered the market on cupid's favorite holiday, the true cheeseheads out there reserve a special place in their hearts for a big old wedge of the good stuff. So this year mix it up for your sweetheart... get your hands on a box full of tasty treats from Saxelby Cheesemongers. It's got the makings of a super romantic dinner party, or a delicious nosh for any loved one on your Valentine's list!

A Saxelby Cheesemongers Valentine | $39 (plus shipping)
Place your order online at
Orders can be shipped via Fedex, or picked up at the shop for no additional charge
valentine's day gift selection
Our idea of a good Valentine begins with a nice chunk of cheese! And what could be finer than Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, the cheese dubbed as having nearly narcotic properties by certain devout fans? To add a little sweet and spice to our savory beginnings, Saxelby Cheesemongers teamed up with two of our favorite local culinary craftspeople, Sweet Deliverance NYC and Liddabit Sweets. Sweet Deliverance cooked up a spicy-sweet Orange Cranberry Chili Chutney, a perfect mate for sharp, crumbly cheddar. Liddabit Sweets knocked us out with a one-two (three-four!) punch of Homemade Heart Jellies, flavored with Meyer Lemon, Pink Guava, Black Currant, and Blood Orange. Each order includes not one, but TWO packages of Heart Jellies. Hey, just 'cause you're in love doesn't mean you have to share dessert! Pair 'em with cheese, or eat 'em straight up... Either way you'll be tickled pink.

For orders to be shipped in time for Valentine's Day, the last day to order is Wednesday, February 9th! All orders will be shipped using Fedex's overnight delivery service.

Orders can be picked up at Essex Market any old day... Valentine's Day included! Just write a note in the comments box when checking out to let us know when you'll be coming by.

Want to include a gift note? No problem! Just write it into the 'comments' area of the order form (and make it as mushy as you please... we cheesemongers don't judge!)

Saxelby Cheesemongers wishes you and yours a sweet and savory Valentine's Day!