When I found out that I was pregnant, one of the first things that was given to me was a list of foods that are now taboo. (We won’t get into the entire list here. Suffice it to say that I was slightly awestruck by the number of foods that were suddenly forbidden to me. It made me wonder what it is that pregnant women do eat and how safe my regular eating habits actually are.) The dietitian stressed the need to avoid cheeses from other countries. She told me to stick to American made cheeses because they were either pasteurized or aged and safe for me to eat. As a die hard cheese lover this edict gave me pause. No more French Muenster or Epoisses? No more creamy Robiolas or gooey Brie de Meaux? And then I had a epiphany. Instead of focusing on the cheeses I couldn’t eat I would savor the cheeses that I could. This was an opportunity to explore American cheeses that I hadn’t yet tried and to reacquaint myself with old favorites that I hadn’t had in a while. After all, there were far more good cheeses produced in the world than I could possibly eat on a regular basis. Temporary boundaries could be a good thing if I used them to focus in on cheeses that I might otherwise be missing out on.
Enter the Cabot Cloth Bound Cheddar. Let me begin by noting that this is not an inexpensive cheese. This cheese was inspired by a return to traditional cheese making and as such is expensive to produce. It was created as a joint venture between Cabot Creamery and Jasper Hill Farm. The cheese is created at Cabot. The 38-pound wheels made with pasteurized milk from Holstein cows that is injected with a proprietary blend of cultures, traditionally hooped and bound in cloth before being sent over to jasper Hill Farm for cave aging. At Jasper Hill Farm the cheeses are coated in lard and placed on spruce boards in an underground cellar where they are aged for between ten and eighteen months.
The cheese itself is utterly delicious. It has developed a slightly dry, firm, yet creamy texture, with a fragrant, grassy aroma and a color reminiscent of a white sand beach on a sunny afternoon. It has the complexity of an aged cheese without any of the bitter aftertaste that sometimes occurs when cheeses are a bit too old. It is nutty and buttery, with caramel undertones. The flavors are sweet, sharp, and smooth. According to Alex it’s as if the flavor profiles of a big, spicy, earthy Syrah and smooth, fruity Merlot got together and had a child that was made of cheese. I say that it’s delicious eaten out of hand and also complements some of Spring’s finest produce beautifully. A little goes a long way because the cheese is just that good.