It was the perfect ending to a day. My order from Artisanal Cheese was waiting on my porch for me! Not only were the two cheeses I ordered contained inside the box, but a generous sample of three other cheeses, as well! Kudos to Artisanal Cheeses for providing little slices of heaven to expand my cheese repertoire.
I mentioned Terraluna in a previous post, but now I’ll share my actual experience with this divine cheese. Terraluna is a cow’s milk cheese that is semi-firm. It crumbles as you cut it with a pale buttery, yellow color. Terraluna is produced in Utah from clean raw Jersey cow milk. This firm cheese is in the cheddar family yet it has a deeper flavor and a longer finish than most cheddars. The award-winning Terraluna owes its superior quality to the mineral-rich soil where the cows graze, and to the fine cheese making skills of its producers. The smell brings to mind the earthy dankness of a forest, loaded with mushrooms and moss. It’s a very smooth, creamy, mild cheddar. I melted as I ate this cheese plain – no crackers, toasts, nothing. Just me and the cheese. Terraluna can be paired with red wines, ales and lambic beers; I suggest Pinot Noir as a “Perfect Pairing”.
The first sample cheese was Fontina Val d’Aosta – a very distinctive, unusual cheese. This cheese is another cow’s milk that is semi-hard. It’s a pale yellow with a slight translucency and darker edges. Fontina is the symbol of agriculture in Italy’s tiny, French speaking Aosta Valley region. The cows that produce the milk for Fontina Val d’Aosta graze on high-altitude Alpine pastures dotted with wildflowers and native herbs. Fontina is a great cooking cheese, as it melts evenly without losing any flavor. Extremely aromatic (some might say “stinky”), Fontina is best noted for its value as a savory and fruity table cheese. Rich, earthy, mushroomy, woody – a bit elastic and chewy – it’s as though you are eating the essence of a cow’s diet and farm. Its slightly grassy flavor embodies the taste of a true raw milk cheese. It pairs well with roast meats and truffles and burly reds.
The third cheese sample was Andeerer Schumuggler. A very creamy, buttery yellow cheese that smells ever so slightly of sweaty feet. It’s a semi-hard cheese. Cheesemakers Maria Meyer and husband Martin Bienerth use the raw cow milk of five local farms to produce this medium-strong cheese. At the Andeer Dairy in Canton Grisons, Switzerland they use the raw cow milk of five local farms to produce this lovely firm cheese. Typically aged to six months with repeated washings, the cheese acquires a robust flavor with an aroma of cocoa. The cheese got its name because a German friend loved it so much that he would smuggle a few wheels over the border with him on every visit. It was slightly chalky and cheek-puckering – sucks you dry! Bitter, slightly sharp, strong, robust flavor. The Andeerer Schmuggler pairs well with ales, medium to full-bodied red and white wines.
Lastly, there was Prattigauer Alpage – a washed-rind, raw cow’s milk Alpage-style cheese aged by master affineur Rolf Beeler near Zurich, Switzerland. It has a rich earthy aroma and an intensely robust flavor – nutty, rich, and lingering. It’s a lot like Appenzeller in texture. It coats your tongue with a sweet, full-bodied, creamy, long after-finish like a fine wine. You might try pairing this cheese with Riesling or Gewürztraminer, as well as Merlot.
Needless to say, I was in cheese nirvana.