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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Lamb Chopper

First let me clear up some terminology, because I wondered about the name of this cheese. A lamb is a young sheep that usually hasn't produced offspring. Once the lamb reaches a year old, it can then be called a sheep. Ewes are female sheep and lambs, though a young one is often more specifically called a ewe lamb. A ram is an adult male sheep, and a ram lamb is a young male sheep. But Lamb Chopper is an adorable name and sounds much better than Sheep Sliver, Shard, Slice..Specimen? Eww. No, that last one sounds really bad. Yes, the name Lamb Chopper is much better, even though it may not be technically correct.

A flock of sheep

Lamb Chopper is a tangy but mild sheep milk cheese made by one of my favorite cheese companies, Cypress Grove. Truffle Tremor is another outstanding cheese the company produces. The Chopper is actually produced in Holland but under the direction of Cypress Grove's renowned cheese maker, Mary Keehn.

It's classified as a Gouda, but the Lamb Chopper tastes like a mixture of several types of cheeses. Similar to a Gouda, it is encased in a wax rind. This is one of those cheeses that's on the verge of being sharp, reminiscent of some hard Italian cheeses, but with a much softer but still rich flavor. It bites, but not too hard, and some lovely sweet, nutty and citrus notes can be detected after the initial tang drifts to the background. A touch of saltiness rounds out the complex flavors of this cheese that is aged 3-6 months.

The overall texture of this beautiful, milky white cheese is hard and dry with a bit of oiliness to it. For a hard cheese, it yields well to the teeth and has a soft quality to it. Vegetarians rejoice, because it's made with a vegetarian rennet.

Cypress Grove Lamb Chopper

As you can imagine, the Lamb Chopper is a great cheese for any sandwich, cold or hot. It's versatile because it's mild, but it has enough complexity to elevate any dish. Try is on a grilled cheese sandwich, with crusty bread and chutney, in pasta dishes or plain with fruit and a glass of Vouvray.