I doubt I’ll ever get married again, but if I do it’s going to be to Cabot Clothbound Cheddar.
I picked some up on my last pass through the Northeast Kingdom, and have been sitting here eating it right down to its stinky rind, and then I ate the rind itself. I didn’t want to keep going, but was compelled because I’ve been looking for the words to describe it. Such is my commitment to food writing.
I agree with Formaggio Kitchen, which describes it as a “cow milk cheese that puts us at the table with the best cheddars of the world. It has a smooth firm texture and a sharp and fruity flavor with hints of caramel sweetness on the finish.”
And with Cowgirl Creamery, who says “sharp and creamy, this cheddar doesn’t so much melt in your mouth as it does coat every surface with caramelized luxury.”
Yup. All those. Luxurious, caramel, buttery, sharp, crumbly but sumptuous, perhaps a tiny bit nutty. It’s just wonderful.
My friend Suzanne from Craftsbury, who seems to know where all the excellent food in the Northeast Kingdom is, told me about it. How it’s made by Cabot and aged in the trés chic caves at Jasper Hill. She scrunched up her hands, showing me how they turn it and massage the cheese. (When I asked a cheesemaker at the Burlington Farmers’ Market about turning and massaging cheese, he nodded and told me it was how they keep the cheese properly shaped, and the cheese mites – here’s a link to an image of one if you like to be grossed out – under control.)
Here’s what Cabot says about its creation:
“Cabot Clothbound Cheddar is a marvel of milk, master cheesemaking and artful aging,” said Cabot cheese maestro Marcel Gravel. Made one vat at a time, from the milk of purely Holstein cows, the result is a singular, Old World style cheddar. A special, proprietary blend of cheese cultures gives an unpasteurized note to this pasteurized milk cheddar.
“Traditional hooping and clothbound curds are just the beginning of this vanguard, Vermont collaboration. After creation, the wheels journey north along the Revolutionary War-era Bayley-Hazen Road into the care of Andy and Mateo Kehler, fellow Vermont cheesemakers and affineurs, and owners of The Cellars at Jasper Hill Farm. “Here, the cave-aged wheels benefit from spa-like pampering and controlled, mold-ripened maturing to develop their beautiful, natural rind,” said Mateo Kehler, co-owner of Jasper Hill Farm. “It’s all about spruce boards, hand turning and tender brushing. [They brush to get rid of the mites on clothbound cheeses.]
“The cheddar’s texture and flavor owe their balance and subtle tones equally to both parts of this dual team effort: traditional clothbound cheddar made at the historic creamery in Cabot and lovingly matured in Greensboro among the hills above Caspian Lake.”
Find some (I got mine at Greensboro’s Willey’s Store) and try it. And then please bring me some more. I promise not to complain if it doesn’t take out the trash or pick up its socks.