Happy Friday everyone! I want to get to cheese right away… but first, I’ll post my photo from yesterday… you can see NYC in it’s snowy splendor!
Photo 293/365 – “East Village Snowed In”
Now on to the good stuff. I’m sitting at my desk with a plate of three Robinson Farm cheeses in front of me. This is a sight I enjoy throughly. Again, I want to thank Bennett, who works with my friend Faye. He found out about my love for cheese and had these samples sent to me a couple days later in the mail. That totally rocks and it totally made my week! Bennett’s family owns Robinson Farm in Hardwick, Massachusetts and they make these cheeses! I can’t wait to visit. Now, I’m going to do some tasting… and I think I’m going to type while I taste!
Here is the plate (pardon the light… it’s dark out and my lighting kind of stinks in here):
The cheeses from left to right are Robinson Family Swiss, A Barndance and Tekenink Tomme. All three cheeses are a nice golden yellow in color. That is one hint to the consumer that raw milk is being used. When raw milk is used (instead of pasteurized), the beta carotene from the cow’s diet (grass/clover) passes through the digestive system into the milk and gives the cheese this rich golden color. Also, many would argue that using raw milk gives the cheeses much more nuanced flavors! ** (I was actually corrected on this point by one of my cheese aficionado friends from Murray’s… while the rich golden color in cow’s milk cheese does come from the beta carotene in the grass, which cows do not convert into Vitamin A during digestion, pasteurization does not really have an effect on this!)
We’ll start with the Swiss:
The Robinson Family Swiss has little holes throughout – mostly pea-sized or smaller. The cheese feels pretty soft and pliable in my hand – but not soft and runny… more like really firm tofu. When I smell the cheese, it smells really buttery and bright – and a little like fresh hay. And with a second big whiff – I totally get buttered popcorn! Now it’s time to taste… the first taste sensation I get is sweet… then a little nuttiness comes through… then a little bit of that bitter (but delicious) taste that I often get with swiss cheeses and then I got a little bit of the salivating under my tongue. And the taste really stays on my palette… it’s delicious! I love the texture – smooth and creamy. This is a cheese I could definitely snack on.
Ok… on to the next: A Barndance:
Also golden in color, A Barndance is semi-firm and pliable as well. It feels a tad bit drier than the Swiss. When I smell it, it smells a little garlicky almost… but mild. In terms of taste… the first taste sensation I get with this one is sour. Then salty. As I get closer to the rind, I get a little more nutty and damp cave taste. But this cheese to me is definitely more tart than the Swiss. And also more subtle. I like this one as well… but I like the Swiss much better! I’m starting to find I like cheeses with much bolder flavors these days though… so it’s entirely personal. This cheese is supposedly an excellent melter – fondue or grilled cheese perhaps?!
Finally – on to the finale… Tekenink Tomme:
The Tomme has a similar color and consistency to the others. The rind is a little more orange – it is a washed-rind I believe, but I can’t seem to confirm that on the website. So… let’s sniff. Oooh… this one definitely has a more piquant smell… it also smells more animaly than the other two. It kind of smells like wet hay mixed with barn. I’m excited. Now to taste… the first taste sensation I get with this one is bitter (but in a good way). The taste instantly travels to the back of my throat….it’s a much bigger taste than the other two. It’s salty and creamy and buttery, but definitely has a more animal funk flavor. I think it’s my favorite of the three.
So – all in all, really tasty cheeses from Robinson Farm. I read that they are pretty new to the cheese making scene (since 2006) – and that is so cool, because in a relatively short amount of time, they have created some seriously delicious cheeses. I’m excited to plan a visit in the spring/summer – perhaps they’ll let me take some pictures of the cheese making process! Oh – and for those of you in Massachusetts, check the site out! They sell organic beef, eggs and veggies in addition to these awesome cheeses. I’ll be following along their cheese progress on Facebook!
Well jeez. That’s fun. Anyone else want to send me samples of cheese? I’ll take pictures and blog about it! 🙂