I attended a cheese event at the Park Slope Food Co-Op a couple weeks ago. The event was hosted by Aaron Kirtz, sales manager at Forever Cheese and Co-Op member; and was presented by Sam Frank, affineur at Crown Finish Caves in Crown Heights, Brooklyn and Cara Warren, general manager and cheese buyer at Greene Grape Provisions.
Cara and Sam started off talking to the crowd about the basics of cheese and affinage – the quality and differences of milk between animals and breeds, terroir and geography of grass-grazed animals, and the environmental variables and constants of a cheese aging facility. The engaged crowd quickly turned into an enthusiastic and question and answer session and the packed house asked everything from “What’s the easiest cheese to digest?” and “Can I eat the rind?” to “Can you grow specific types of mold during aging?” and “Tell me more about what’s going on chemically in cheesemaking/affinage.”
Although there was plenty of food for thought, no cheese event could be complete without a cheese tasting. While we did taste some domestic washed rind cheeses celebrated by the Co-Op, the true highlights of the evening were the Parish Hill Creamery cheeses brought from Crown Finish Cave.
Crown Finish Cave is a retrofitted old lagering cellar located tens of feet under Crown Heights Brooklyn and is home to adolescent and aged and ready-to-eat cheeses from Parish Hill Creamery, in Westminster West, VT. Only using 1 of the available 5 rooms in the cellar, the Cave also assists other nearby dairies to age their cheeses to perfection.
Here are some Brooklyn-aged Parish Hill Creamery cheeses that we tried that night.
A classic pasta filata style or hand-stretched curd cheese – which is how it acquires its gourd-like shape. Made in a similar style to the Italian cheese Caciocavallo, this cheese is both buttery and tangy. Parish Hill uses – kid (goat) rennet paste which gives this cow’s milk cheese somewhat of a “goaty” flavor, but a noticeably smoother texture.
Parish Hill Kashar
Kashar is styled after Eastern European provolone. A hand-stretched curd – pasta filata style cheese – that is placed in a mold and aged at least 60 days. The paste has a beautiful ivory color and flavor of a great young provolone, not overly sharp while the pasta filata style “grainy” texture, like dough.
The Humble Herdsman is a tomme style cheese washed with Virtue Co. Red Streak hard cider. It has the rich taste of peanuts with sweeter rind of fruit and definite apple notes from the hard cider. Although this cheese has been aged for a few months, washing the rind gave the paste a supple and fudgy texture.
West West Blue
The West West Blue is Gorgonzola style with a sweet mold and tastes a bit like a stilton. While all of the Parish Hill Creamery cheeses were interesting in taste and recipe, this one intrigued me the most. It is a “2 day curd” cheese: On the first day of the cheese make, the curds are made but are left out to cool and become acidic. The next day, the freshly produced warm, fresh curd are placed on the bottom & sides of the mold with the previous day’s cold curd on the inside because the old curds do not “knit” or press together as well. The gaps between curds leave room for air to enter and so, blue mold.
I left with a renewed feeling of enthusiasm for the cheese world and my place in it – that people are curious about all aspects of cheese reminded me that there is more out there for me to do. One of which things is see what’s going on underground Crown Heights in Brooklyn. Next Post: Crown Finish Cave