The latest issue of Culture Magazine got me hot and bothered. The cover story on ricotta was gorgeous, and the profile of Zingerman's Creamery made me want to pack a cheese valise and hitch a ride to Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Luckily, I didn’t have to. A good friend happened to be on her way home from the Great Lakes state, and she offered to swing by Zingerman’s for me. Just send me a list of the cheeses you want, she wrote in an email.
Bridgewater, I wrote back. Just bring me Bridgewater.
You see, the picture of Bridgewater in Culture was irresistible. It looked like a snowball with peppercorns. With the heat wave we've had in Philly, I yearned for a snowy cheese. Bridgewater also had an interesting inception: the cheese came about by accident when someone left a bag of farm cheese in the trunk of a Honda. I love a good birth story.
When my Michigan friend returned last week, we had an impromptu cheese party pour deux and made ourselves half sick on Zingerman’s cheese. Zingerman’s is actually a famous Ann Arbor deli, known for its glorious cakes, sandwiches, and bread. The company also runs a creamery. Bridgewater is just one of many artisanal cheeses made in house by cheesemaker John Loomis.
If you’ve ever eaten spicy French Gaperon a.k.a. “the salami of cheese,” Bridgewater is similar. It’s much tastier than imported Gaperon, in my opinion – less gummy, more pure in flavor. The recipe Loomis uses to make Bridgewater is actually based upon Gaperon, so said the Zingerman's cheesemonger I talked to on the phone while I was nibbling. "This is so good!" I told him. "I had to call and tell you."
Bridgewater is a double-cream, made from cow’s milk. The texture is like packed snow, and there’s a frostiness I love. The cheese tastes cool and icy, but the peppercorns add heat, so there’s a little bitta that Vicks-Vapor-Rub thing going on – icy hot, ya know?
Imagine a peppercorn snow cone. Yes, that’s it! A perfect cheese for a 90-degree day. Try it with fresh nectarines and a wheat beer (a Michigan microbrew would be ideal).
If you have friends traveling to Ann Arbor, ask them to bring you some. I also recommend City Goat, a beautiful round of bright, citrusy goat cheese that tastes like pillowy sleet. When you don't have central air, you have to make do somehow.
Many thanks to Aimee Knight for ferrying this cheese across the country. For folks without Michigan friends: Zingerman's has a bangin' mail-order business. Both of these cheese are available online.