Alpine-style cheeses from the mountains of Montana arrived at our door recently, courtesy of Darryl Heap, the Cheesemaker. He and The Lady met via their love for cheese and mutual membership in cheese groups at LinkedIn.
When The lady was Getting Rogued at Rogue Creamery in August 2011, she picked up apiece of Mountina in the Rogue Creamery Cheese Shop, managed by American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professioanl (TM), Tom VanVoorhees. (We will be posting an article about the ACS CCP program tomorrow as we launch our “2013: Year of The Cheesemonger”.)
Vintage Cheese of Montana is owned by Darryl and his brother Dwayne. They have been making cheese since their teens when they worked summers for Kraft Foods. The two are third-generation cheesemakers. Their grandfather, Clarence made Emmental Cheese for the Brog Brothers in Wyoming. In 1939 their Emmenthal won First Prize at the New York World’s Fair. Following several years of managing dairy co-ops, Clarence, with his two sons, started his own cheese plant in Gallatin Gateway, Montana in 1955. Clarence and one of the sons, died in the early seventies, leaving the plant to Joe, Dwayne and Darryl’s father. Joe sold the business in the 90’s.
In 2009, Dwayne and Darryl returned to the cheesemaking business and started Vintage Cheese of Montana.
Mountina and Mountina Mocha are made with fresh, raw milk from the mountains of Montana. Next the milk is tested to determine the percentage of fat and the percentage of SNF (solids-not-fat). Then the raw milk is clarified and standardized. The milk is then set with only a portion of normal starter inoculation.
After cutting, the curd is cooked and washed with pasteurized, hot water. After the draw, the curd is pre-pressed under the whey. By pre-pressing under the whey, the air is removed while the curds knit.
The curds are hooped, the cheese is final pressed to close the curd mass and make the eyes. After brining the cheese enters the cheese caves where it is cured and hand-washed to promote the growth of brevi-bacterium (b. linen). b.Linen growth imparts flavor, creates the aroma commonly called “stinky” and the pinkish color of the rind.
The Mountina Mocha is washed with a brine that includes coffee. The brothers recommend removing most of the rind before serving to avoid the natural bitterness the coffee brine leaves. Their father created this brine shortly before his death and Larry Brog, helped the brothers perfect the recipe and method.
The Lady took wedges of both Mountina and Mountina Mocha to the Murray’s Cheese Shop Red Jacket Training class she taught at the new Greenwood Fred Meyer in Seattle. What better way to have a cheese tasting than with a room full of Cheesemongers? After allowing the two cheeses to warm to room temperature, fifteen mongers pronounced both winners. Here are a few of their comments:
Mountina: “Beefy”; “Grassy”; “Lactic”; “Lingering”; “Earthy”; “Stinky”; “Dense”; “Robust”; “Creamy”; “Buttery”; “Nutty”.
Mountina Mocha: “Tangy”; “Metallic”; “Mushroomy”; “Toasty”; “Gamy”; “”Dense”; “Fudgy”; “Sweet”; “Smoky”; “Woodsy”.
Last night, The Lady served the two cheeses to The Man and moi, your humble feline foodie and here’s what happened… The Man went into his swooning mode, followed by his less-than-flattering non-sharing mode… lucky for me, there were plenty of wedges, so I got my fair share… I know The Man reads these reviews… you’d think he’d get the hint, wouldn’t you??? After enjoying these cheeses “naked”, The Man topped his Mini Nillas with them to create a sweet/savory treat that neither The Lady nor I would have thought of
These cheeses are serious cheeses. The aroma of the Mountina Mocha is almost intoxicating; the nuttiness and slight sweetness of both linger on your palate and the only solution is to have another bite. The grass and the flora rush at you thanks to the use of raw milk. We tasted the Mocha with both the rind on and then trimming the rind. Definitely, the rind should be removed; the coffee leaves a bitterness that isn’t enjoyable; although not a turn-off either.
These cheeses will also be part of the Super Bowl Cheese Plate the Lady has planned for later today and she is also taking wedges with her when she heads for New York this week and meetings at Murray’s Cheese… more tasting notes will follow…
Last night The Lady used Mountina and Beecher’s Flagship to make a rustic pimento cheese spread that started The Man swooning again… recipe to follow immediately after this post.
I give both Mountina and Mountina Mocha 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).
Serving Suggestions: Both are perfect as part of a cheese plate. Use Mountina to make a special pimento cheese spread or part of your next mac n cheese. As with all Alpine cheeses, this one should melt perfectly.
Wine Pairing: 14 Hands Merlot
Beer Pairing: The Man had a Pale Ale
Source: Raw, cow milk; rbST free.
FTC Disclosure: The cheesemakers sent me these cheeses, without any obligation on my part, hoping I would review the cheese. Please see my About Me Page for details.