Treat Yourself Day has come and gone, but the holiday season is still upon us. Have you ever looked forward to something all year long, and as quickly as you see it available, it’s sold out? That’s how we feel about these elusive cheeses, making their fleeting yearly appearance in stores right now.
Buy them now and create the most decadent Thanksgiving cheese board around—your holiday guests will be too busy tasting them over and over again to make any references to anything that may have happened over the course of 2016. Beware for timeliness, though! Waiting until Christmas or Hannukah will likely result in actual tears about these cheeses being no longer available.
Beaufort Alpage Chalet
Beaufort is one of the most noble Alpine cheeses. It’s produced exclusively from raw cow’s milk in the French Alps of the Haute-Savoie, from the milk of cows that graze on sustainable mountain pastures. Our rare Beaufort is made from the milk of a single herd of Tarine cattle, a rare breed that is allowed by the Beaufort AOC but not typically used due to their scarcity. They give a rich, high-protein milk that yields a dense, lush cheese. It is made on a single farm in Garde, a region within the Languedoc. All of grassy, flowery and meaty flavors meet in this one special firm cheese. The taste is more elegantly subtle and the paste a bit creamier than Swiss Gruyere or Comté, because its curd is cooked at a much lower temperature during the make process.
Its characteristic shape—a large, thick wheel with concave sides—has quite the story of origin. It’s said that the concave sides allowed farmers to easily get them down from the mountain tops by winding ropes around the wheels and strapping them to donkeys. If you visualize donkeys dragging big 100+ lb cheeses down a mountain via ropes, you’ve pretty much got the right idea. (We promise that no donkeys were harmed in this cheese-moving process.)
Available at our Rittenhouse, Ardmore, Franklin, & Italian Market counters for $34.99 lb., while supplies last.
Rush Creek Reserve
Attempts to procure this elusive spruce-bound wheel of cheese have been known to break out in riots, with curds and whey thrown in every direction. (Okay, not really, but you never know. It could happen.) To help understand our fears, know that production did actually halt back in 2014 when the FDA was getting a little “intense” about certain raw milk cheese aging rules, but now it’s back in action and has never been better. Modeled after France’s beloved Vacherin Mont d’Or, the paste is runny and satiny, with lots of smokey,baconey richness. Some may call it a little stinky, but we prefer to just refer to it as “woodsy,” or with the essence of camping in one pudgy little wheel. Rush Creek Reserve is best enjoyed by removing the top crust and scooping the cheese with a spoon, a hunk or bread or your favorite pickle—maybe even your fingers, if you aren’t sharing. Pair it with a yeasty sparkling wine or a light acidic red wine, like the Tarrica Pinot Noir currently available in our Franklin bottle shop.
Available atour Rittenhouse, Ardmore, Franklin, & Italian Market counters for $29.99 per wheel.
Rogue River Blue
You’re destined to be blue if you don’t get any of this blink-and-you-miss-it legendary blue from California. (Corny joke, sure. But the sentiment remains.) This magical blue-veined wonder might make you wince briefly at the price tag, but it all makes sense after enjoying the first morsel. Besides, isn’t it important to treat your taste buds nicely during this holiday season? They’ve worked hard this year, too.
Here’s how word-maven Madame Fromage explained this cheese in an older blog post. (Read the full original by clicking here.)
Don’t let the “blue” part of this cheese from Oregon scare you. Rogue River is the nun of cheeses – demure but sweetly spirited. Notice how few blue veins she’s got and how pretty her habit is (the rind is wrapped in grape leaves soaked in pear brandy). This is a moist, rich creature with a texture like New York cheesecake – clayey and crumbly.
I like to “relax” this cheese at room temperature, slice up some pears, and toss a few walnuts around its edges. Then I ready my mind for epiphany. Rogue River Blue is one of those cheeses that speaks to you through unfurling flavor. I can’t help myself from calling out the notes – breathlessly, wondrously – as I taste them: Are those hazelnuts? Wait, I’m tasting berries, no Morels…wait, wait…it’s a forest of mossy pine trees!
If you’ve ever seen a production of Angel’s in America, you may recall how the character of Harper hallucinates herself into Antarctica? Well, the experience of eating Rogue River Blue is similarly transformational. Just pretend you are somewhere along the damp Oregon coast, waving to Holsteins as you pass through rolling fields into vineyards.
Rogue River Blue is available at our Rittenhouse, Ardmore, Franklin, & Italian Market Di Bruno Bros. cheese counters, while supplies last, for $49.99 lb. We have reason to believe that it may sell out while you’re reading this email, so hustle!