Cheese making involves several steps, each with a separate team to oversee the process. It all starts with the milk. Many cheese companies outsource their milk, but Jasper Hill has its own creamery and is also part of a shared space facility called the Vermont Food Venture Center. The motto at Jasper Hill Farm is quality over quantity, so they push for excellence over mass production. They milk about 45 cows that are pasture-fed during the warm months and fed dry hay the remaining months. Each style of cheese is made from a single herd of cows. Once the cows are milked, the cheeses can be made, and once they are ready, the cheeses must be aged in their unique climates. Jasper Hill has its own aging facility that is separated into seven specially calibrated vaults. In addition to the recipe of the cheese, the aging process is what makes each cheese different.
After the products have been packaged, selling the cheese is the last step in the process unless you count eating, which is where I come in. A cheese monger is the one who does the selling, and I am the customer or the cheese eater.
Bayley Hazen Blue is a surprisingly well balanced raw milk cheese that is reminiscent of the English blue cheeses. Think of a dense, intriguing and more rock and roll version of a Stilton. It's drier than the American blues or the famous French Roquefort, but I wouldn't say it's a very crumbly blue. Some say it has a fudge-like texture, but it's not as chewy or sweet, of course, though there is a nice sweetness about this cheese. This dairy product does have a nice mouthfeel, and the finishing texture is soothing and creamy on the palate. The natural rind provides a wee bit of an earthy, mushroom flavor that's not unlike that of a bloomy rind cheese, but the texture and look are nothing like the rind you would see on a Brie. The outer grayish crust is thin, dry and almost sandy.
This is a bold cheese that has an immediate salty kick. The tang that eventually hits the back of your throat is balanced by a traditional spicy blue cheese flavor with a trace of licorice. Light nutty notes, such as toasted hazelnuts or Brazil nuts, are present, and these undertones are complemented by an overall earthy, straw-like taste. Primarily, there's a wonderful milky flavor that stands out. Some describe this as buttery, but it's really a pure, fresh milk taste. The more the cheese ages, the more a barnyard characteristic emerges. When heated, the total flavor of this blue cheese mellows and becomes quite mild and lovely.
At Jasper Hill, here is how they suggest pairing the cheese:
"The texture and flavor make Bayley an ideal choice for any lover of blue cheese, but with a balance of flavors that renders it accessible to those new to the style. Try pairing with a fruity red dessert wine, toasty Imperial Stout, or a hunk of dark chocolate. Bayley is also ideal for crumbling over a juicy burger or adding to a salad with spinach, walnuts, and dried tart cherries."
Some other suggestions are:
Riesling or Chardonnay, Grenache, shiraz or Sangiovese.
Try Champagne or even a Tawny port for dessert.
|Beautiful blue veins are abundant in this cheese.|
|The cheese is dense enough that it doesn't crumble completely.|