Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pennsylvania Noble

The moldy month of October has really opened my eyes to the pleasure of a good rind. I had a quick tutorial a few weeks back with Bloomin’ Idiot, a smoldering, moldering cheese from Wisconsin, and I’ve been hooked on spores ever since. Consider the note on the label of Pennsylvania Noble, a cheddar-style cheese with a hardy outer jacket: “Toasted rind side up is delicious!”

Hell, I couldn’t wait to fire up the toaster oven tonight when I got home from a rainy day at work. I took the crust, sliced it right onto a baguette round, and, oh, what a melty treat I had. Even the dog was licking her lips.

Truth be told: I took this cheese to a little soiree last night hosted by our very persnickety Euro cheese friend, The Blue Cheese Brit -- a regular character in these posts. Being British, the BCB likes to stick his rosy nose up at domestic cheddars. So, I was pretty excited to watch his reaction when I slid my wedge of PA Noble – made of organic, raw milk from grass-fed cows – onto his cutting board.

Would the Brit bite?

Well, guess who exclaimed as he cut into it, “Ohhh, God, look how she breaks!”

PA Noble comes out of Green Valley Dairy in Lancaster County, where it was developed by a pair of Amish brothers keen to switch from hormone-amped cows to pasture-raised heifers. Now their cave-aged cheddar-style Noble (as they market it) is a hot ticket item. It’s won several national and local awards, and you’ll find it at ritzy bistros, like Django. I heard about it at the Fair Food Farm Stand in Reading Terminal Market, my fave source for local cheese.

PA Noble is marvelously sharp. It has the tangy claws of a cheddar, but it’s earthier…pasturey. The mouthfeel is smooth, though Noble is crumbly, and the sharp tweak at the end actually leaves your tongue a bit numb.

The label (which pictures a goofy cow in an Amish hat) should be obeyed: toast those rinds. It makes for a crisp-gooey, grandfather-ish snack. And if you’re ever invited by a British snob to a cheddar smack-down, this is just the eyebrow-raiser you’ll want to slide out of your back pocket.


  1. Several summers ago, when I was working on my Reading Terminal Market project, I met one of the men who makes the PA Noble. He was so passionate about his cheeses and spent more than half an hour telling me about how cheese is a living organism and that I should never fear mold, because it was really just the cheese trying to grow a new skin, in order to protect itself. At the end of the conversation, he fired up the toaster oven he had on site and made me an open-face toasted rind sandwich. Amazingly good stuff!

  2. Oh, heaven! I have a chunk of this on my cheese board right now... toasty rind sandwich, here I come!

    What kinds of rinds are appropriate for toasting? I've never heard of eating them this way before.

  3. Sigh...raw milk cheeses and toasty, tasty rinds...I need a cheese pimp over here in Australia!

  4. How in the world have I never read the label and missed that? I usually just eat the rind - really tasty by itself.