This is a tale of cow meets goat and gets the blues.
Regular followers of my blog know Wisconsin cheesemaker Chris Roelli’s cheeses, featured multiple times during last October’s American Cheese Month, including his Dunbarton Blue, Kingsley and Red Rock. Chris’ family has been making cheese for decades but it is only very recently that Chris has focused on developing fully artisan, small-batch, aged cheese.
And then there is cheesemaking prodigy Katie Hedrich, who wowed the artisan cheese world in 2011 when her delicious, hard goat cheese Evalon won the United States Championship. Her family has also been farming for decades in Wisconsin but the 20’s-something Katie literally burst onto the cheesemaking scene just recently. Add Andy Hatch from Uplands and a number of other up-and-coming already award-winning Wisconsin makers and the future is very bright for the artisan movement in America’s Dairy Heartland.
So just imagine if these two got together – and I mean to make cheese!
Jeanne Carpenter first wrote about how the cheese got its name (“…a group of Chicago chefs that enjoyed it so much, one night they started singing old German folk tunes while eating it…) and how Katie & Chris made this happen )”Chris asked me when I was going to start making a goat milk blue. I responded: ‘whenever Chris Roelli wants to’. Needless to say, I took a load of milk down to him on Dec. 9th and we made our first batch. We are now making one to two batches a month and having a blast with it.”).
I’ve wanted to try it ever since.
Chris and Katie make the cheese twice a month at Roelli’s, blending LaClare’s goat milk and the milk from Roelli’s cows. It’s matured for around 3-4 months at Roelli’s and marketed by LaClare. And it has the makings of a great partnership, born from the milk of two careful stewards of the land and livestock and the their collective passion to put Wisconsin on the map as a leading maker of artisan and farmstead cheeses.
The cheese is said to be based on a Dry Jack recipe but if I didn’t know better I’d have said it is another Cheddar Blue, a style that’s a focus for Roelli. It chews and tastes almost of England’s stellar Montgomery Cheddar: texture is dense, curds are visible especially on the rind as the mold seeks out the crags and nooks; creamy and chewy. On the nose there is with a noticeable dusty mineral overtone, wet millstone, but there is also this wonderfully rich, dominant scent of buttery shortbread. Lovely! As blues go, this is mild, savory and tangy, dominated by that reach buttercream flavor and punctuated by blue and wet cave. The combination is most unique, I cannot place another cheese quite like it – no easy task in a seas of artisan cheeses. And for being such a new cheese, it strikes me as a darn-near perfect result that I hope stays like it is. It’s delicious. Congrats Katie and Chris!
Cheese: Ziege Zacke
Where: Shullsberg, WI
Milk Type: goat & cow blend
Shape: 7lb wheel
Tasting notes: shortbread, buttercream, millstone, tangy