Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sterling Reserve

It's official: I have a new favorite cheese. It's called Sterling Reserve and as my friend Barrie Lynn, the Cheese Impresario, would say: "This cheese totally rocks."

Sterling Reserve is a raw milk, cave aged goat cheddar brand new to the market. Available just this week at Fromagination in Madison (and hopefully elsewhere soon), this naturally-rinded, complex flavored beauty is crafted by Mt. Sterling Cheese Cooperative in tiny Mt. Sterling, Wis.

The cheese has been a long time coming. Marketing Director Pat Lund (who is also a dairy goat producer and member of the Mt. Sterling Cooperative) first presented the idea of making an artisan cave aged goat cheese to her board of directors back in 2003. She calls it a "producer inspired" cheese, and it is, in fact, just the first of what will be an entire line of artisan goat cheeses dreamed up by the cooperative members.

"We wanted to reflect the original intent of forming a co-op, so we produced a goat cheese simple in nature, powerful in presence and complex in flavor," Pat says.

That's a pretty good description of Sterling Reserve. Crafted by cheesemakers Al O'Brien and Bjorn Unseth in 2-pound daisy wheels, the raw milk goat cheddars are aged at the plant for about 30 days, and are then shipped to a farmstead cheesemaker in northern Wisconsin, where they are washed and aged in a true cave environment for another 60 days.

The result is a cheese that can hold its own on any cheese board in any restaurant or cheese contest anywhere, any time. It recently earned a gold medal at the 2009 Los Angeles International Dairy Competition in the ripened goat's milk cheese competition, beating out three cheeses crafted by the venerable Redwood Hill Farm in California. In fact, when Pat recently presented the cheese to some accounts on the West Coast, she says they were all blown away.

"When they asked me where Mt. Sterling was from and I told them Wisconsin, they simply nodded as if to say, 'Of course, where else?"

If you're interested in tasting the magnificent Sterling Reserve, Pat will be at the Wine & Dine in Milwaukee on Oct 10-11, and at the Meet the Cheesemaker Gala at the Wisconsin Original Cheese Festival in Madison on Nov. 6. Until then, call your local cheesemonger and tell them to order it - one taste and they'll be hooked. And no, I'm not sharing what's left of the wheel in my fridge. You'll have to find your own.

4 comments:

Madame Fromage said...

Wow, this sounds incredible. I can't wait to try Sterling Reserve. Wisconsin just makes me happy. Incidentally, I have been seeing lots of Carr Valley cheese (and sample booths) at grocery stores around the East Coast. Glad that Carr Valley luv is spreading.

Al said...

Jeanne, I am very very happy you liked the Sterling Reserve. I just want to let everyone know we will also be sampling and selling Sterling Reserve as well as many other of our fine goat cheeses at The WIne & Cheese Festival in Wisconsin Dells at the Just A Game Fieldhouse on October 3rd. Hope to see you there.

genhob said...

Not willing to share?! How selfish! :-) Looking forward to trying this sometime. If it has your raving review, I'm sure to like it.

AWR said...

Have you ever tried Pleasant Ridge Reserve from uplands dairy? That's my new favorite.
I tried at my recent Cheese University course - check it out at http://cheesenbread.wordpress.com