Rosy Future for this Blue

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Celtic Blue Reserve, a blue cheese from Ontario, took Best of Show at last week's American Cheese Society competition in Providence. Topping 1,779 entries, the cow's-milk wheel gave Canada its first win in the contest's 30-year history. Margaret Peters Morris, whose Glengarry Fine Cheese company produced the roughly six-pound wheel, is a respected consultant who has mentored many U.S. cheese makers.
 
A single herd of Swiss Brown cows provides the raw material for Celtic Blue. The cows reside only three miles from Glengarry, so while this cheese isn’t farmstead, it surely benefits from the proximity. Made with pasteurized milk and cream (yes, there’s cream added; no wonder it’s dreamy), the wheel develops a natural rind over 2-1/2 months of aging. Morris has been making it for only two years.   
 
Sadly, few U.S. cheese enthusiasts will get to taste this celebrity, at least in the near term. Trade barriers keep most Canadian cheeses out of the U.S., and vice versa.  Morris sells all of her Celtic Blue Reserve in Ontario. “We will be making more now,” she told me via e-mail, hours after her win.

 American Cheese Society’s Festival of Cheeses

American Cheese Society’s Festival of Cheeses

In the meantime, you can celebrate your own state’s dairy superstars. My state, California, claimed 12 blue ribbons—respectable, but Vermont and Wisconsin surpassed it. Here’s the rundown of Golden State winners:

  • Bleating Heart Cheese Fat Bottom Girl
  • Central Coast Creamery Goat Cheddar
  • Cypress Grove Chevre Humboldt Fog Grande
  • Cypress Grove Chevre PsycheDillic
  • Haverton Hill Creamery Sheep Butter
  • Karoun Dairies Brinza Feta
  • Marin French Cheese Company Traditional Brie
  • Nicasio Valley Cheese Foggy Morning
  • Pug’s Leap Petit Marcel
  • Redwood Hill Farm Traditional Plain Goat Milk Kefir
  • Rumiano Cheese Company Organic Unsalted Butter
  • Sierra Nevada Cheese Capretta Low Fat Yogurt

A special shout-out to Pug’s Leap of Petaluma and its cheesemaker Jennifer Kirkham. Kirkham had two second-place finishes in addition to her blue ribbon—an awesome showing.

And more broadly, here are some of my “Most Memorable Tastes” from this four-day dairy marathon.

  • Jasper Hill Farm Harbison (VT): luscious cow’s-milk wheel in the style of Vacherin Mont d’Or
  • Meadowood Farms Ledyard (NY): Robiola-style sheep’s-milk disk wrapped in grape leaves
  • Mystic Cheese Melville (CT): fresh, rindless cow’s-milk slab modeled on Italian Crescenza
  • Narragansett Creamery Renaissance Ricotta (RI): fluffy, tender cow’s-milk ricotta
  • Pennyroyal Farm Boont Corners Reserve (CA): delectable aged goat’s-milk wheel
  • Roth's Private Reserve (WI): silky, nutty alpine-style cow’s-milk cheese
  • Tomales Farmstead Teleeka (CA): soft-ripened mixed-milk cheese (cow, goat, sheep) inspired by Italy’s La Tur
 Jasper Hill Farm Harbison (VT)

Jasper Hill Farm Harbison (VT)

 Roth's Private Reserve (WI)

Roth's Private Reserve (WI)