Brace yourselves, cheese geeks. Pleasant Ridge Reserve - possibly the most famous only child farmstead cheese in America - is about to gain a baby brother.
The brainchild behind this new masterpiece is cheesemaker Andy Hatch at Uplands Cheese. Similar to Vacherin Mont d'Or, a soft, rich cow's milk cheese made in the Jura region of Switzerland and France, Andy's new cheese will be sold in little round boxes and will be designed to be consumed out of the box, perhaps warmed, and served with a spoon.
Vacherin Mont d'Or is traditionally made from cow's milk in the fall and winter months, and Andy's cheese will follow suit, thereby fitting well into Uplands' schedule, as Pleasant Ridge Reserve is made only in the spring, summer and fall, when cows are eating fresh grass. It will do just fine on winter milk, Andy says, as the style depends not so much on grassy milk notes, but more on the cheesemaker's ability to put a particular touch on this fragile cheese.
So far, Andy has made several batches of this new raw milk cheese, and is working to age it to the magical date of 60 days - the time needed to sell a raw milk cheese in the United States. A high-fat cheese, it is rich and creamy and held together by a band of spruce tree bark.
Only about 3/4 of a pound in weight, these little wheels will be worth their weight in gold. I tried a version that was three weeks old. It was evident that this cheese is going to be very good, but it will be a challenge to get it to 60 days and still be in good shape to ship and sell. Then again, if anyone can do it, it's Andy Hatch.
The only problem remaining is its name. Pleasant Ridge Reserve was named after the ridge in which the farm sits - Pleasant Ridge. So it would be logical to name the new cheese after another nearby landmark. Andy says the headwaters to Rush Creek lay on the Uplands farm property, but he thinks Rush Creek sounds like a $4 bottle of wine.
I suggested changing it to Rushing Creek or Rushing Waters and was met with a blank stare and: "Um, right, but it's called Rush Creek." So obviously, the name of the cheese will need to be authentic and resonate with Andy, Mike & Carol Gingrich, and the region in which they live. If you've got any good ideas, I'm sure they'd be all ears.