Currently on her way to receiving a master's degree in Gastronomy from Boston University, WFM Pearl Specialty team member Annie Knopf is a serious food buff with an unwavering passion for artisanal cheeses. In her new weekly column, The Cheese Course, Annie reveals why some cheeses are, quite simply, worth making a stink about.
Photo by Annie Knopf
Cheese of the week: Cabot Clothbound Cheddar
Origin: Made at Kempton Family Farm in Peacham, Vermont.
Style: Clothbound Cheddar; aged 10-14 months at the Cellars at Jasper Hill in Greensboro, Vermont.
Milk: Pasteurized cow’s milk
Rennet: Microbial rennet
Cabot Clothbound Cheddar is an excellent example of an aged American cheddar. The cheese is complex with a caramelized fruity sweetness along with a nice balance of nuttiness coming through at the end. The flavors change with each bite showcasing the many dimensions that it has to offer. In the sprit of traditional cheddar, this cheese would be categorized as sharp. But those who fear sharp cheddars should not be afraid! With fruity undertones and subtle nuttiness, the sharpness is welcomed and creates a cheese that truly stimulates your taste buds. The cheese boasts a mild astringency that is similar to the drying sensation from drinking black tea.
Texturally, this cheese is crumbly, meaning it is not suited for melting. Cabot Clothbound has small crystalline granules that frequently appear in aged cheeses. These bits arise from the breakdown of amino acids or proteins in the cheese. The crystalline bites offer more sensations for the taster creating a truly holistic experience.
To be honest, I'm holding back a little -- I absolutely love Cabot Clothbound cheddar! It's so complex that I get a little something different in each bite. As a clothbound-style cheddar, and is handmade one batch at a time. Cabot makes the cheese, wraps it in muslin, and rubs it with lard to create a boundary. The cheese then ships to the Cellars at Jasper Hill where it ages for about one year.
But don’t think it just sits there getting tastier all by itself. Jasper Hill has a state of the art aging facility created to accommodate the fine art of the aging process. Their facility combines cutting-edge science with the cultural expertise needed for proper aging. They constantly monitor moisture, pH, and temperature, which allows the cheesemakers to focus on the animals and farming, as well as the challenging process of bringing cheeses to market, rather than the delicate and time-intensive requirements of aging cheese.
This delicious cheese is wonderful on its own as a snack or as part of a cheese platter. I enjoy pairing this cheese with cranberry chutney and sour cherry jam. The sweet and sour aspects of both spreads create a synergy with the cheese’s fruity traits. The jam’s sweetness also acts as a welcome contrast to the nuttiness and dryness of the cheese. I bet a fall salad of spinach, dried cranberries, apples, and toasted pecans would love to have chunks of Cabot Clothbound added to it!
Have you tried Cabot Clothbound Cheddar? How do you enjoy it?
Annie is a Specialty team member at Whole Foods Market Pearl. She is known to travel with a stash of "emergency" cheese in her purse and glove compartment.
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