Massachusetts has a long tradition of cheesemaking; nearly four hundred years of it, so they should have it down by now. The first Massachusetts cheese I recall tasting was Hubbardston Farm’s Classic Blue, an external blue mold goat cheese, invented by Lettie Kilmoyer. The next Massachusetts cheese I remember tasting was Great Hill Blue. That was about it, both of them excellent, but whatever else was being crafted there had to compete with another state to make its way into New York City. Cheese has been produced in Massachusetts for all this time but it is often overlooked because of what has been happening in Vermont.
My good friend and former colleague, Sarah Jennings, returned to Massachusetts after working with us in New York, and now she is on the advisory board of the Massachusetts Cheese Guild. When I was asked to present cheese at this weekend’s Tanglewood Wine & Food Classic I went to Sarah for some direction. Sure, I could find many other old and new favorites, from neighboring states or farther away, but I thought this would be a great opportunity to try some of the “local” cheeses, ones I may not have had before.
I decided to showcase only Massachusetts cheeses at this evening’s sold out dinner, two of which I already know and love: A-Barndance, a raw alpine style of cow’s milk cheese from Robinson Farm, and another raw cow’s milk cheese I have enjoyed for many years, the Berkshire Blue. The other cheese in the dinner’s selection of three is from Fiore Nonno, its Fig Burratta, I may have tasted it among nearly seventeen hundred cheeses entered in last week’s ACS competition but the flavored pasta filata (mozarella-related) family was not one of the categories I judged in the preliminary rounds. Sarah raves about it so I am trusting her for her recommendation. Sounds yummy!
Sarah recommended several Massachusetts cheeses, ones I haven’t yet tried. Shy Brothers’ Hannabelle will be featured in my Cheese and Wine seminar this Sunday. Cheese and wine on a Sunday at noon, ah yes! It is always thrilling to see how a “new” cheese will pair with various wines. I may be able to make some predictions for successful marriages based on a cheese description and stats but there are too many variables that come into play.
Since we started assembling this weekend’s selections I have heard about several other Massachusetts artisan cheeses so I hope to be up that way again soon, well before next year’s Tanglewood Wine & Food Classic.