Thursday, July 22, 2010

Carr Valley's Marisa

Earlier this week, I nibbled my way around the Finger Lakes of New York state. One morning, a family friend invited Monsieur Fromage and me over to try her favorite cheese. We toured her garden, took a peak at her homemade pickles curing on the counter, and sat down to a mystery wedge that she served with Prosecco and a side of homemade chipotle-raspberry jam.
Jill Newton has been gardening and canning for 40 years. She makes a mean bread-and-butter pickle and was kind enough to share a few of her favorite recipes with us. But this cheese was what spoke to me, a sheep's milk cheese with a sweet, nutty taste that paired well with her piquant jam. Wouldn't you know it was from Wisconsin?!
"I got it at BJ's!" Jill was thrilled to tell me. It's interesting to see how much Wisconsin cheese makes its way out to New York and Pennsylvania. While I like to support my local cheese shops, I'm glad to see quality cheeses appearing in unlikely places. Even BJ's Wholesale Club.

Marisa is a cheese worth seeking out, especially for entertaining. It took 1st place in its class at the 2005 American Cheese Society Competition and 2nd place in its class at the World Cheese Competition. It's a cave-aged cheese, mild and sweet, without a pronounced sheepiness. At first, I mistook it for a cheddar. It has similar caramel notes and a flaky texture, although it's grainier.

Jill likes to serve Marisa with homemade pickles and jams. Perfect accompaniments. I look forward to doing the same. In fact, on August 28, I'll be teaming up with Marisa McClellan from the blog Food in Jars for a Cheese & Pickles tasting. More on that to come!

After our cheese visit, Jill Newton was inspired to start a blog about gardening and pickling. Check it out here.


  1. Oh my gosh! I share a name with a cheese? I love it!

  2. I adore the area of the Finger Lakes, making a trip once or twice a year. Sounds like you had a lovely visit, too!

    Also, I didn't know of the Marisa, and I am very excited to try it, ASAP! AND pickles & cheese!? I must come to this tasting!!!