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Vermont is Nirvana for cheese lovers, and there’s no producer more respected than Jasper Hill Farm. Located in the green hills of the Northern Kingdom, Jasper Hill makes a variety of excellent cheeses, and we’re so pleased to have three of its beauties for our tasting this Saturday.

Jasper Hill Farm began in 2002 with brothers Mateo and Andy Kehler, 15 Ayrshire cows, and a vision. Not only did the brothers want to make great cheese, they wanted to create innovative solutions and economc opportunities in the town they love.

Their cows munch on fresh pasture from the late spring to early fall, which results in milk high in fat and protein – exactly perfect for the unusual cheeses Jasper Hill is famous for. The Kehler brothers have grown the herd into one of the highest quality milking herds in the U.S.

High quality milk is just one factor. Another is the careful affinage – the process of aging cheese. Jasper Hill built a series of tunnels burrowed into the farm’s hillside, and that’s where the Kehlers regulate the temperature and humidity necessary for ripening the various kinds of cheeses. The milk and the affinage result in a true “taste of place.”

Alpha Tolman - Tastings Gourmet MarketAlpha Tolman

Have we got a treat for Alpine cheese lovers! Direct from Greensboro, VT, comes an Alpine cheese that pays homage to its old-world counterparts. Some say it is the best Gruyere not made in Switzerland. It’s named for Alpha Tolman, a philanthropic dairy farmer who built the library and school in the town Jasper Hill Farm calls home.

Made using traditional Alpine techniques, the cheese is cooked and then the curds are pressed. Next comes its bath: Tolman is washed with brine to give it a funky, rosy-orangey rind. The end result is a tight, pliable cheese with robust flavor.

When young, its buttery, fruity, and nutty taste will wow you. As it matures, it evolves into something even better: the flavors develop into bold and meaty richness with tones of butter and caramelized onion. The cheese develops crystals as it ages, and those little pops of flavor are highly prized among cheese lovers.

To complement the meaty taste, try it with something tart. Onion jam makes a perfect match.

Origin: Greensboro, Vermont
Producer: The Cellars at Jasper Hill Farm
Milk: Raw cow
Rennet type: Animal
Rind: Washed
Age: 8-11 months
Look: Yellow, semi-hard
Feel: Dense, pliable, smooth
Smell: Fruity, nutty
Taste: Like Appenzeller or Gruyere, bold, meaty
Tastes good with: Onion jam, melted onto potatoes, prosciutto. It is ideal for fondue.
Pairs well with: Jammy reds, Chardonnay, robust ales

Willoughby Fiddlehead - Tastings Gourmet MarketWilloughby Washed with Fiddlehead Ale

A semi-soft artisan cheese, Willoughby is the result of a collaboration between Jasper Hill’s Cellar and Fiddlehead Brewery. Soaked in Fiddlehead’s Landscape and Haystacks wild ale, the cheese takes on the brightness and effervescence of the beer and delights your palate with a rich, gooey cheese with aromas of fruit. Jasper Hill describes the taste as something between roasted broccoli, fresh sourdough, cashew butter, and fermented apricot. You know you’ve got to try this!

Named after Lake Willoughby, this beautiful small disc of cheese is soft with a pudding-like texture, a few “eyes” (holes) and a gorgeous pale yellow paste. Like all washed rind cheeses, Willoughby is aromatic and with a bark “worse” than its bite. Reblochon lovers will adore it.

The creamy, unctuous cheese is even better when you taste the tacky, flesh-colored rind, which provides a pleasing crunch. Add a drizzle of honey and you’ve got perfection.

Origin: Greensboro, Vermont
Producer: The Cellars of Jasper Hill Farm
Milk: Pasteurized cow
Rennet type: Animal
Rind: Washed
Age: 5-7 weeks
Look: 8-oz. disk of soft, gooey cheese with a rosy-orange rind and
Feel: Soft
Smell: Strong, meaty, herbal, mushroomy
Taste: Complex, earthy, nutty, herbal, beefy, buttery
Tastes good with: Raw floral honey, charcuterie, spicy cornichons
Pairs well with: Riesling, Rosé, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Grigio, sparkling wine, Saison-style beer

Landaff - Tastings Gourmet MarketLandaff

Landaff is named after the town of Landaff, NH, the site of the farm that raises the dairy cattle and creates the cheese. Because a Welsh bishop founded the town, the cheese makers decided to create a cheese similar to a favorite Welsh cheese (Caerphilly). Two years of trial and error later, they achieved success:  The result is a delicious cheese with a beautiful, rustic gray rind and the aroma of damp earth.

The Tomme-style cheese is known for its balanced complexity, its yogurt-like tanginess, and its brown butter notes.  It has a creamy, buttery texture and is an excellent melter. Landaff is perfect for sandwiches and lovely on your cheeseboard.

Origin: Landaff, NH, and Greensboro, VT
Producer: Landaff Creamery (Jasper Hill is the affineur)
Milk: Raw cow
Rennet type: Animal
Rind: Natural
Age: 4-6 months
Look: Nine-pound wheel; rustic natural rind with semi-firm paste
Feel: Semi-firm, smooth, slightly grainy
Smell: Grassy, earthy
Taste: Tangy, savory, complex
Tastes good with: Whole-grain mustards, speck
Pairs well with: Oaky Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pilsner, Saison beer, IPA

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