Friday, March 25, 2011

Farmdog Blue

                                                      Photo credit: Jill Lewis

One of my favorite sources for cheese reviews is the blog Cheese and Champagne, co-authored by Jill Lewis and Colleen Levine. They live in different parts of the country (Minnesota and D.C., respectively), but they share a single-minded love of stinkers. When they started their blog a few years ago, they set out to eat their way through the Wine Spectator “100 Great Cheeses” list. Now, they just follow their noses, especially toward artisanal American samplings.

This month, I asked them to participate in the Blue Cheese Invitational, and sure enough, Jill found a blue I've never seen. I can't wait to try a crumble of this raw-milk Minnesota newbie. Even the picture looks like an ol' hound-dog tooth.

Here's how Jill describes Farmdog:
Not many people probably think about Minnesota when they think about blue cheese, but this state produces a few fine specimens of fromage bleu. In fact, my first post for Cheese and Champagne, way back in November 2008, was about a Minnesota blue called St. Pete's Select, lovingly created and aged in Faribault Dairy's sandstone caves. St. Pete's has garnered quite the following in the past few years, and you'll often see it on the menus of Twin Cities restaurants, but there's a new blue in town that's making waves. Let me introduce you to Farmdog Blue. 
PastureLand Co-op, based in Goodhue, Minn., has been making a name for itself with its artisan cheeses, all made with organic milk by award-winning cheesemakers in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Its latest offering, Farmdog, is a raw-milk blue (the best kind of blue!) that is aged at Faribault Dairy - another example of heartwarming cooperation we caseophiles have witnessed in the cheese world. I hope this partnership between PastureLand and Faribault lasts a long time because I'm digging Farmdog - it has a creaminess that lesser-quality blues can only dream of achieving. Though the blue veins are thick and generous throughout the paste, each bite soothes, rather than stings, the palate. My 3-year-old called it "spicy," and I suppose it would be for a young palate, but I only caught a hint of spice on the swallow. 
Farmdog's lack of astringency means the cheese doesn't beg for a sweet accompaniment like some other blues do, but I wouldn't turn down some dried fruit or a couple of shards of dark chocolate on the side. 
PastureLand's market presence is primarily limited to Minnesota and Wisconsin right now, but you can order directly from the co-op if Farmdog sounds too good to be true. Believe me, it's not.  --Jill Lewis

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