Minnesota cheesemakers are getting organized and have formed a guild, just in time for this September’s Minnesota Cheese Festival. Members include Alemar Cheese Company, makers of the previously reviewed Bent River Camembert. Via Minnesota Public Radio:
Watch out, Wisconsin. Minnesota cheese makers are organizing. Nine artisan cheese makers have just formed the Minnesota Cheese Guild in an effort to share knowledge and resources and to get the word out about their work.
“Cheese making is by nature an isolating profession,” said guild president Jodi Ohlsen Read of Shepherd’s Way Farms. “And when I started 15 years ago there were hardly any other small scale companies out there, aside from Eichtens.”
Members of the guild will be showcasing their cheeses and offering tips on how best to enjoy them at the second annual Minnesota Cheese Festival in September.
A few of them were on hand to show off their delectables last night at Heidi’s restaurant in Minneapolis. Among them was Keith Adams of Alemar Cheese Company in Mankato. Adams, who named the company after his two daughters, started making cheese five years ago after first working as a baker. He says it pays to be slightly obsessive and to not shy away from long hours and grunt work.
Adams has produced three cheeses since starting his business: “Bent River” (a Camembert style cheese), a fromage blanc, and most recently “Good Thunder,” a Reblochon inspired cheese washed in Surly beer and hand rubbed in sea salt. He gets his milk from Cedar Summit Farm in New Prague.
Alise Sjostrom, founder of Redhead Creamery, is the newest cheese maker in the guild; she and her husband Lucas presented their first-ever wheel of aged cheddar for tasting last night. But Sjostrom doesn’t lack experience. She grew up on a dairy farm, studied cheese making at the University of Minnesota, and worked at both Grafton Village Cheese in Vermont and Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese in Wisconsin.
Read the full story.
(Photo ©2013 Minnesota Public Radio)
From the archives: Originally posted April 19th, 2012:
Bent River Camembert, from the Alemar Cheese Company in Minnesota, is a cheese I’ve been on the prowl after for a while. I was curious to try this cheese after reading Janet Fletcher’s review in the San Francisco Chronicle, but the last time I went looking for it, Lucy’s Whey had already sold out and I couldn’t find it at any of the other cheese mongers in town. Lucy’s Whey recently tweeted that they had some, so I finally got my hands on a half wheel.
Keith Adams, the maker behind Bent River, came to cheese making after years in the bagel business and prior to that as a stockbroker in San Francisco. Although a relative newcomer, he’s obviously a quick study (you can read more about him here, from Minnesota Public Radio). This soft-ripened bloomy rind, inspired by the traditional Camembert de Normandie, is made from the milk of a local farm and a mix of Holstein, Normandy, Jersey, and Guernsey cows.
With a luxuriant, velvety paste, buttery and smooth, in flavor it is milky and barnyardy but in a very subtle way, reminiscent of damp hay after a rain, with herbacous and floral hints and a full, mushroomy body.
It took a while to get my hands on, but it was well worth the wait. Definitely a cheese to seek out.
Purchased at Lucy’s Whey.