“There’s a lot of great artisan cheese being made here in the states,” said Carlos Souffront, a long time Zingerman's employee who's not out there and active in the cheese world. “But unless you live around the corner from the dairy, you’d never know about the stuff available in your own backyard.”
He found this hard, raw Holstein/Jersey cow's milk blue cheese in Shullsburg, Wisconsin.
It comes to us from the Roelli Cheese Company, which usually produces commodity cheddar. Chris Roelli, the fourth-generation cheesemaker who’s been running the show, is just now starting to focus on this one cheese. The family’s cheddar curds operation still pays the bills, but Dunbarton Blue has become his passion.
He starts with a process that’s similar to cheddar making. Slabs of curds are cut and flipped and milled and finally pressed into moulds to expel as much moisture as possible. After they've rested for a few days, Chris pierces all the cheeses by hand, allowing the blue mold to penetrate the cheese. The wheels are then aged for at least four months before making their way to us.
In terms of flavor, Dunbarton Blue strikes a nice balance of beefy, nutty, saline flavors, the mustiness of the natural rind and cellar aging and the slight piquancy of not-too-much blue. (How’s that for a cheesemonger description?)
Great for salads or as the star of a cheese tray. Its blue notes aren’t too sharp, so even those with milder tastes will be able to enjoy this domestic beauty.
The wheels we are opening now were made just after Christmas. It's the darkest time of year and you can taste winter in this cheese. The flavors are soft, a subtle broth flavor with a bit of umami that you can always find in Dunbarton. The light blue cheese notes are swimming just below the surface and add a really lovely accent that lingers on your palate.