Meet Our Makers: Vulto Creamery

It started with an apartment in Brooklyn. That, maybe, is not how you’d expect the story of a creamery to begin, but Jos Vulton is not exactly what you’d expect when you picture a cheesemaker. Following the siren call of the craft, he left his career as a metal worker and began making cheese in his kitchen. When faced with the task of aging that cheese, he turned to his only option in the wilds of Brooklyn – he aged them beneath the sidewalk outside. After a few years of testing and tasting, he opened a real-deal operation in New York’s western Catskill mountains, in a small little hamlet known as Walton. This has been the idyllic setup, far from the humble kitchens of his cheese’s youth – he sources milk from his neighbor’s herd of Holstein and Jersey cows, imparting his raw milk cheeses with the terroir of the Catskills. 

We at Murray’s are unbelievably thrilled every time we get to taste a bit of what Vulto has to offer (and since they’re always in our cases, that’s fairly often). Take a look at the sampling of Vulto Creamery’s delectable raw cow’s milk cheeses and feel free to indulge.

Hamden

Named for the town just a hop, skip, and a jump from Vulto Creamery, Hamden originated from its stinky sibling, Ouleout. Legend has it that Jos decided to let a few wheels just go wild, letting their earthy, crunchy rinds develop naturally. We like to think of it as Tomme de Savoie’s Hudson Valley soul sister – if features notes of fresh spring milk, freshly cut grass, and toasty hay. If you’re picking up a chunk in our store (and we think you definitely should), don’t forget to grab a loaf of crusty baguette, a few dried cherries, and maybe a couple of cans of a good farmhouse ale. You’ll thank us.

Ouleout

Say it with me: OOH-LEE-OUW. The name is actually a double-meaning. For one, it comes from the Algonquin word that means “a continuing voice” – and trust us, it comes with a flavor that definitely lasts. It’s also the name of a creek that flows through Delaware County, right past Vulto’s creamery. Ouleout is the perfect name, in our opinion, since this creamy raw milk beauty is washed to stinky perfection. Made in the same vein as Ardrahan and Munster, the smell of this guy certainly isn’t misleading – while the taste isn’t as pungent, it is definitely briny, with strong notes of roasted coffee. Not for the faint of heart, but we love all cheeses, stink and all.

Miranda

We love a sweet story when it comes to cheese (even though this definitely qualifies as ‘savory’). In a tribute to his wife, who always wanted to have a cheese named after her, Jos Vulto named Miranda after his late wife. Miranda reminds us of a classy lady, casually dining in a speakeasy. That fact has a lot to do with Miranda’s weekly wash in a locally produced Absinthe called Meadow of Love – the orange rind from this brings lush herbaceousness to the button-like wheel. The bright yellow, creamy interior is lightly bubbled, but imparts a big, meaty flavor that reminds us of a French Dip sandwich, au jus included. Pack on the meatiness with a few slices of speck and some tangy, garlicky pickles.

Meet the Maker: A Visit from Andy Hatch of Uplands Cheese

We could begin every blog with the same sentence, but here it feels especially appropriate: My job is awesome.  Really, awesome.   Not only am I able – nay, encouraged – to taste the best cheeses from across the US and the world on a daily basis, I get to share the results of that grueling work with people every day in our classroom.  And sometimes, when I’m really lucky, I get to hang out in a room with the best cheesemaker in the United States, and hear from the maker’s mouth how those cheeses get so darn good.

Last week, we were treated to a visit from Andy Hatch, Cheesemaker and Manager of Uplands Cheese.  Pleasant Ridge Reserve from Uplands is the most decorated and celebrated American cheese, having won the American Cheese Society’s Best in Show award more times than any other cheese in the history of the competition.  And for good reason- Pleasant Ridge is a perfect cheese, redolent of toasted hazelnuts and fresh mango, transitioning from bright and fruity to deep and brothy through the season with grace.  After ten years of making and mastering Pleasant Ridge Reserve, Uplands added a second cheese, a custardy bacon bomb wrapped in spruce bark known as Rush Creek Reserve, a cheese often spoken of by our mongers with a series of sighs and googly eyed gazes.

As our staff sat with rapt attention, Andy lead us through the history of Uplands from the Ice Age glaciers that left the Driftless Region of Wisconsin with a distinctive rolling landscape perfect for smaller scale farming to Uplands’ founding in 2000 by two adjacent farming families, Mike and Carol Gingrich and Dan and Jeanne Patenaude.  We had lots of questions for Andy, from the beneficial microflora in the milk, cheese, and caves to the diet of the cows, but more than anything, our mongers wanted to know how, just exactly how, the cheese is always so. damn. good.  Andy fielded our rapid questions with aplomb, and explained what we had suspected about the cheese’s quality: great fields with great cows lead to great milk, great milk and great cheesemaking lead to great cheeses, and when great cheeses are given great care in the cave, they only get better.  It’s a simple equation, but when all of the variables are controlled for greatness, you can’t go wrong.

After our training, staff members lingered with questions: questions about the future of cheesemaking in Wisconsin, about the breeds of cows used at Uplands (crossbreeds of a variety of cows for better milk, naturally), and several expressions of undying love for two of our favorite cheeses.  We’re lucky folk at Murray’s, surrounded by the world’s best cheeses day in and day out, and we’re even luckier when we come face to face with the people who make those cheeses.

 

Sascha Anderson is the Director of Education at Murray’s Cheese and has never met a cheese fact she didn’t want to know.