Dorset: funky, sweet, and finally on the West Coast.
Before you think I'm shirking my food writer duties by not writing about the glories of springtime produce or dairy, I'll have a post for you next week on that topic. With a recipe. In the meantime, let's talk Dorset.
I'm not sure if it's the storm brewing outside (thank you, water, for occasionally falling on California) that makes me want to write about heartier fare, or if it's just that I long to tell you more about my favorite cheese styles, but today, I'm going to talk about a new washed rind to the west coast. It's funky, soft, and a newbie for us desolate Californians.
Dorset is new to the west coast as in, all you lucky east coasters have had it available to you forever, but we just got it. For some delicious reason, there is a plethora of gooey washed rinds congregating on the east coast that we can only droll over from a distance because of distribution. Here's looking at you, Keely's Across the Pond. If I sound jealous, it's because I might be. A little. Very.
Then there are some that are just recently hitting our shores, like Hudson Red, Hooligan, and Dorset.
Made by Consider Bardwell Farms in Vermont (or New York-depends which side of the farm you're strolling on), Dorset is a raw milk cow's milk cheese. As you can see above, Consider Bardwell has goats. They're actually a goat's milk creamery, but in the interest of supplying dairy lovers with more variety and supporting local farms nearby, they buy Jersey cow's milk from their neighbors and make cow's milk cheeses too. Points for everyone.
The creamery is a project launched by food literary agent Angela Miller and her husband Russel Glover, who started making cheese on the farm in 2003. The farm had been a creamery in its past life, and the two revamped it. They hired cheese consultant extraordinaire, Peter Dixon, and their wonderful cheesemaker of today, Chris Gray, to work their magic. The result is a creamery and small cafe that are open to visitors, a gorgeous site (Glover is an architect, and the swans floating on the property's pond don't hurt the ambiance either), and cheese that is the envy of… west coasters. I visited the farm while doing research for my book and fell in love with its idyllic nature and frisky, friendly goats (they say it's the breed).
Lucky for us, Cowgirl Creamery just started distributing Dorset in the Bay Area. Go, Cowgirl!
Dorset is a washed rind. As it ages, the cheesemaker "washes," or pats down, the rind with a brine solution of water and salt. This encourages the growth of the b.linens bacteria, and the delicious, delicious, sweet funk flavor. B.linens create the strongest smells in the dairy counter, but often the sweetest flavors. Which is the case with Dorset.
Creamy, in that cream-off-the-top-of-the-glass-milk-bottle type of way, Dorset is pretty lovable. If you're sensitive to scent, I have no doubt that a taste versus a whiff of Dorset will get you over this. It's just as sweet as the cream that tops the milk bottle. I swear. It can be a little floral too.
And it's lively. Despite its mouth-coating richness, it has a tang that keeps it all bright. Maybe because it's just made seasonally with the milk of cows grazing local pastures. You can taste the Vermont grass. And I can tell you from a visit to the farm, wow, that's some green grass.
I like the Dorset solo on a cheese plate, with orange blossom honey, or with apricot conserves. Or, melted in a grilled cheese sandwich. Serve with a Alsatian white, sweet Riesling, lush Pinot Noir, or ale with a hit of sweetness.