Valfino: a creamy, runny, mild stinky cheese similar to the Italian Tallegio, is alive once more. It sports flavor profiles of beefiness, earthiness and a hint of spice and fruit. Made by Roth Kase USA in Monroe, Wis., the cheese was made originally by mistake. And it's the mistakes that are the hardest to reproduce, says Kevin Davis, Quality Assurance Guru at Roth Kase.
"We were working on a higher moisture Alpine Cheese and something went wrong. When we sent it the customer, they went wild and ordered more. So then we tried to duplicate it. It's taken awhile to figure out what we originally did wrong to create this cheese," Kevin told us Saturday during a private tour and tasting for members of Wisconsin Cheese Originals. "It's really hard to duplicate a mistake - you have to go back through every step and see what you did differently."
In good news, the folks at Roth Kase have apparently figured it out, because Valfino is back, baby, and it's amazing. Of the four experimental and trial-batch cheeses we had the honor to taste (two blues and a low-fat cheese), Valfino is in a class all its own (pictured here in the upper left corner).
Turns out that Roth Kase actually does quite a bit of experimenting with new cheeses. In fact, they own two small copper kettles - each of which only makes about 100 pounds of cheese - that are completely dedicated to research and development. Kirsten Jaeckle, director of marketing, says that of all the cheeses they experiment with, only about 10-15 percent are ever "killed." Of the others, a percentage goes on to market and the rest stay in the R&D pipeline until they're perfected.
Another of their new cheeses -- Moody Blue -- is just entering the market now. I had a chance to taste this cheese at last year's American Cheese Society. It earned a second place at that contest. It also just made it onto AOL’s 2009 List of Food Editors Picks. They describe it as: "Roth Käse Moody Blue Blue cheese -- we love it. Smoke -- also a passion. Combine the two and you get Roth Käse's Moody Blue, a smoked blue that at first blush might sound odd, but tastes like you've entered the pearly gates of fromage heaven."
Ahhh ... fromage heaven ... sounds like a good place to end up some day. I'm in no hurry though.