iTasting: Vermont Butter & Cheese Co. – Creamy Goodness

April 17, 2007 in cheese, Food Porn, ingredient, iTasting, luxury, product, review

Vermont Butter & Cheese Company

(Image Source: Vermont Butter & Cheese Co. promotional materials. All the remaining photos are mine.)

This is the second installment of the [tag]iTasting[/tag] [tag]series[/tag]. You can find the first one here – iTasting: Elevages Perigord – Duck Foie Gras.

There were several cheese producers at the [tag]Dole & Bailey[/tag] [tag]Northeast Family Farms[/tag] [tag]Road Show[/tag], and I got to sample different types of cheese from each table. It is one of these producers which I will talk about today – The Vermont Butter & Cheese Company.

The start-up story for [tag]Vermont Butter & Cheese[/tag] is compelling. It’s a story about [tag]Allison Hooper[/tag], one of the founders of this small company, following her heart and her bliss. As a college student studying in [tag]France[/tag] in the 70s, she was ahead of her time when she sought out [tag]organic[/tag] [tag]farm[/tag]s that might let her work on their farm, in exchange for room and board and the chance to learn about [tag]artisanal[/tag] [tag]cheese[/tag] making practices. Fast-forward a few years, and Allison is a [tag]dairy[/tag] lab technician for the state of [tag]Vermont[/tag]. When [tag]Bob Reese[/tag], a marketing director for the Vermont Department of [tag]Agriculture[/tag] needed to source some chevre for a state dinner he was putting together, he turned to Allison. She whipped up a batch of creamy [tag]chevre[/tag] and it was such a hit at the dinner that both Allison and Bob felt like this was the birth of a partnership, one to launch a [tag]company[/tag] that would serve the unmet needs for cultured [tag]butter[/tag] and cheeses based on the sustainable practices and ethics Alison was exposed to during her time making cheese in [tag]Europe[/tag].

The company grew from a small one-woman [tag]cheese making[/tag] and one-man cheese selling enterprise in the late 80s to currently employing 29 people, sourcing high quality milk from 21 [tag]family farm[/tag]s, and moving into a recently constructed 4,000 sq. foot facility. They have achieved the dream of making delicious artisanal European style [tag]cultured butter[/tag] and cheese while also providing critical support to the family farms in the region who may not have been profitable without this company. The difference they make is clear and extremely important in a time when even very large milk producers are on shaky ground.

Enough with the non-food chat! Lets talk about whats really important here: the butter and cheese.

Vermont Butter & Cheese Company

If you live in the [tag]Northeast[/tag], you may have seen their products in the grocery store, especially their European cultured butter. We enjoy the cultured butter because it has a stronger flavor than your average American large-company-produced butter. If you want to break out of the usual butter mold (puns, gotta love them), give this product a try. Remember, its has a stronger flavor so if you do not like it right away, experiment with it and you will likely find yourself using it in many ways.

I have borrowed some of the specifics about this product from their site:

Vermont Butter & Cheese Company butter info

Note that they make it a point to use [tag]hormone free[/tag] [tag]milk[/tag]. This is a theme throughout their product line.

Vermont Butter & Cheese Company

Some of the products they offer include the following.

From the Cow:

From the Goat:

“Signature” Aged Artisanal Cheeses:

Below are several different types of chevre on display that day.

Vermont Butter & Cheese Company

This table was always crowded, people several deep, so it was hard to sidle up to the “bar” and snack out on all the cheeses. Instead, I did a surgical strike, going in after the [tag]Bonne Bouche[/tag], an interesting ash covered cheese.

Vermont Butter & Cheese Company

The Vermont Butter & Cheese site says this:

“Bonne Bouche is the “flagship” of the signature line. This hand ladled, ash-ripened cheese was first introduced in 2001. “Bonne Bouche” literally means “good mouthful” and is a French term used to describe a tasty morsel. Bonne Bouche is simply that and won instant acclaim among chefs, retailers, and food writers. It won First Place for aged goat cheese at the American Cheese Society competition.

Bonne Bouche is made from pasteurized milk and set in tubs for lactic coagulation for 24 hours. The following day, the cheese curd is carefully hand ladled into moulds and drained overnight. The cheeses are then unmolded, ashed, and moved into the drying room and then into the aging room, where the controlled environment is cool and humid. The entire process takes seven to ten days before the cheeses are packaged in their individual micro-caves.

Bonne Bouche can be enjoyed fresh or aged up to 45 days. As a young cheese, the rind has a distinct geotrichium flavor. The texture is mild yet still acidic like a fresh chevre. As the cheese ages, it becomes softer and the rind becomes more dry and piquant. The “made date” is indicated on the package”.

As you can see in the photo below, it has a creamy “melting” interior.

Vermont Butter & Cheese Company

The flavor was mild and delicious. As noted on their site, it’s flavor and aroma does remind one of flowers and [tag]hazelnut[/tag]s. It is certainly not astringent or ammonia-like as a similarly ripened cow-milk [tag]Brie[/tag] can be (although, I love that flavor too). This product comes in it’s own little “[tag]micro-cave[/tag],” so that you can age it past the level they ship it at (on average, 45 days), into characteristics that you choose. These are so good that this and a couple of other [tag]Vermont[/tag] B&C Co. cheese have been raking in the prizes. See below for a listing of the most recent.

These products are not locked away in a [tag]cheesemonger[/tag]’s back room, available only for the [tag]Fromage[/tag] [tag]Illuminati[/tag]. You should be able to find these at grocery stores, or will soon. I suggest that when you see them, try a few out, explore their fresh and bright flavors.

Recent Awards for Vermont Butter & Cheese Co. products:

2007 [tag]U.S. Cheese Championships[/tag] (held every two years and dates back to the 1890s):

  • The Best of Class Award for Soft Goats’ Milk Cheese: for its Vermont Fresh
    Crottin.
  • The Best of Class Award for Semi-Soft Goats’ Milk Cheese: for its Bonne
    Bouche.

2007 [tag]World Cheese Awards[/tag] (held in London at the [tag]International Food and Drink Exhibition[/tag]. The Awards are open to products from all major cheese- producing nations, and over 130 experts from around the world evaluated the entries):

  • The Gold Medal for Soft Goats’ Milk Cheese Plain – Fresh: for its Vermont
    Chevre

Resources:

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