Special Artisan Cheese for January, 2016
Each month, your Neighboring Food Co-ops feature our region’s artisan cheesemakers by offering a specially selected cheese at great price. Look for the “Cave to Co-op” sign in the cheese section at your local food co-op. To find one near you, visit www.nfca.coop/members.
This month’s special cheese is Eidolon from Grey Barn in Martha’s Vineyard, MA.
To talk about our cheese, we must first talk about our milk. The Grey Barn dairy herd produces the most wonderful, fresh certified organic, grass fed milk you have ever tasted. Our delightful herd of twenty-five, heritage breed, grass-fed cows are the reason. Eating a grass only diet, the herd’s milk becomes infused with the flavors of the pasture through the different seasons.
With this milk we developed a bloomy-rind cheese that is a true and straight forward expression of our milk and our pastures. To do this we looked to the traditional cheeses of France – chaource, coulommiers – cheeses that are named for the place they are made. What we have produced is a young, bloomy rind cheese made in a classic French style with delicate mold growth on the surface and a center that is rich and milky.
In naming our cheese, we were inspired by the Walt Whitman poem, Eidolons. In this poem an eidolon is the perfect form of an idea, a Platonic notion of reality in philosophy, an ideal. It is a word that can begin to describe that miraculous melding of elements that creates a taste of place.
Our Eidolon is made by bringing in fresh milk from the farm. It is warmed, cultured and then rennet is added for coagulation. Next, the curd is cut, gently stirred and hand ladled into its form. The cheeses are turned several times while draining overnight in the creamery. The next morning they are removed from their forms and are hand salted in the brine room. Here our Eidolons are left to dry for several days before moving to the cave. This cheese ages in our caves for about four weeks and they are turned daily as development the soft white bloomy rind appears.
Once fully developed, they are individually wrapped in a paper that is specifically made for bloomy rind cheeses.
The final result is Eidolon, a certified organic, bright, grassy cheese that smells of freshly tilled earth and has a creamy layer topping its dense cake like center. This cheese is not only unique because it is hand-made on Martha’s Vineyard but also because the seasonal changes in the pastures gives way to subtle changes in our milk subtly infusing this cheese with our own terrior.
Cave to Co-op is a partnership between Provisions International and the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) to support local, artisanal cheese producers in our region and make their products more easily available to co-op shoppers. The NFCA is a network of more than 30 food co-ops in New England, locally owned by more than 90,000 people like you. For more information, please visit www.nfca.coop.