By: Brian Ralph, Murray’s Cavemaster
Driving north along the wintery roads of New York, my tasting companion, Steve, and I were set to visit the border farm of Consider Bardwell. Arriving at the farm on that snowy mid-day, we were met by Chris Gray, cheese guru at the creamery who would be are guide for the next 24 hours. Once welcomed to the creamery off came our boots, which were replaced by super-chic white clogs, lunch lady hair nets on our heads, and bodies enrobed in bleached Samurai-style lab coats. Now properly outfitted to enter Consider Bardwell’s series of aging environments, our first and primary mission was to select a Murray’s flavor profile for alpine-style cheese, Rupert.
Once in the Rupert cave, we were met with hundreds of wheels in various shapes and sizes. Chris provided us with an extensive list of batches that were presently in the cave so we could record our tasting notes and select the wheels that would soon become Murray’s. Mouths watering and ready, Chris plugged batch after batch as Steve and I scribbled our tasting notes between bites. Core samples were pulled from one wheel after another and bits of cheese were smashed between thumb and forefinger to judge moisture content; volatile aromas captured with a sniff; and flavors debated—i.e. caramel vs. browned butter, grass vs. hay—to help us pinpoint exactly what we’re tasting so we can keep our offerings consistent from season to season.
More than 30 batches were sampled over the next two hours and our preferred profile became apparent: browned butter, pineapple, fresh cut grass to start, and a long finish of savory pork broth, soy sauce, and hay lingering on the tongue. We then learned that, of the ten batches we had selected for Murray’s, all had come from the Larson Farm’s milk supply. Our palates unknowingly chose cheeses made from one of two milk suppliers. Slightly chilled and taste buds fully exhausted, it was time to rest for the night before we completed our time at the farm.
Waking the next morning, Steve and I toured the rest of Consider Bardwell’s aging facilities sampling their other great cheeses. The standout that morning was the limited edition, “Danby”, whose white interior mirrors that of the marble extracted from the eponymous town. Once through the aging facilities, our tour ended by watching milk being transformed into Rupert, which we may one day select to sell on our counters and online, perhaps a year from now. Finally, we had to say our farewells with a quick stop to see the farms month-old, suckling goat kids. Onto the white roads of Vermont once again, we left with renewed appreciation for Consider Bardwell’s distinguished work for the land, animals, and the fine cheese it produces.
Tasting Notes: Rupert
Flavor Profile: Nutty, Sweet, Pineapple, Brothy, Umami
Milk: Raw Jersey Cow
Beer/ Wine Pairing: Belgian Ale, Gewurztraminer
Food Pairings: Surryano Ham, Apricot Jam, Dried Cherries, Cornichons, Grilled Fennel and Leeks
- Rupert has the image of a whale stamped onto each wheel to indicate its Leviathan-like size…a WHALE of a cheese!
- Named for one of Vermont’s oldest towns.
- Consider Bardwell Farm was founded as the first cheese-making co-op in Vermont by Consider Stebbins Bardwell in 1864.