When digging into a cheese platter, most people don’t give a thought to the animal behind the milk that the cheese is made from. This 'Menagerie' board, from Thalassa Skinner's Cheese Boards to Share, celebrates the animal and places it front-and-center by using five cheeses, each made from a different species’ milk, and one that’s a mixture of several.
L’AMUSE BRABANDER GOAT GOUDA
Fromagerie L’Amuse (IJmuiden & Amsterdam, Holland)
Gouda made from goat’s milk is an eye-opener. Aged goudas of all ilks boast a lingering sweetness that makes them user-friendly, but a goat’s milk version takes it even further. Aged for six months or more in a particularly warm and humid cave, this 20 lb./9 kg. wheel is dense in body and rich in bright, caramelly ﬂavors that belie any hint that it’s made from goat’s milk. But it is!
Substitutions: Honey Bee Goat (Cheeseland; Holland), Midnight Moon (Cypress Grove; California, USA), Premium Goat (Beemster Cheese; Holland), Killeen Goat Gouda (Killeen Farmhouse Cheese; Galway, Ireland), Superior Goat (Ribblesdale Cheese; Yorkshire, England).
Fromagerie Guilloteau (Pélussin, France)
“Pecorino” means sheep in Italian, and there are numerous pecorino cheeses made in that Mediterranean country, particularly in Sardinia. But most are ﬁ rm; often they’re table cheeses, used for grating, shaving and cooking. Besides ricotta, soft sheep’s milk cheeses are rare. But sheep’s milk is higher in butterfat and thus holds the potential to produce luscious soft wheels, like this one. Its maker, a French laiterie near the city of Lyon, uses a special technique to ensure the paste is extra-velvety.
Substitutions: Kinderhook Creek (Old Chatham Sheepherding Company; Old Chatham, New York, USA), Bossa (Green Dirt Farm; Weston, Missouri, USA), Wigmore (Village Maid Dairy; Berkshire, England), Flower Marie (Golden Cross Cheese Co.; Sussex, England).
Käserei Tufertschwil (Tufertschwil, St. Gallen, Switzerland)
Swiss cheeses are predominantly made from cow’s milk, and exquisitely so. Gruyère, Emmentaler, Appenzeller, Raclette (all PDO)—these traditional cheeses provide a strong backbone to the mountainous country’s farming economy and traditional lifestyle. In recent years, several Swiss cheesemakers have been experimenting, making Alpine styles with unique twists. This is a great example; made by a revered producer of Appenzeller PDO cheese but aged for a bit longer than that classic. It’s got a fudgy texture and ﬂavors of roasted peanuts and brown butter.
Substitutions: Der Scharfe Maxx (Käserei Studer; Thurgau, Switzerland), Oka Frère Alphonse (Agropur; Quebec, Canada), Hornbacher (Michael Spycher; Fritzenhaus, Switzerland), Stärnächäs (Walo von Mühlenen; Fribourg, Switzerland), Le Migneron de Charlevoix (Laiterie Charlevoix; Baie-Ste-Paul, Quebec, Canada).
BLU DI BUFALA
Caseiﬁ cio Quattro Portoni (Lombardy, Italy).
When it comes to water buﬀalo, it’s all about the butterfat—that’s what makes buﬀalo milk mozzarella (a.k.a. mozzarella di bufala) so luscious. It’s also what makes everything from Quattro Portoni—a cheesemaker with its own herd of roughly 1000 buﬀalo in northern Italy—so compelling. Made into a 9 lb./4 kg. square, this blue cheese is tangy but not overpowering, and the texture is crumbly yet ultra-creamy on the palate.
Substitutions: Quadrello di Bufala/Casatica di Bufala (Caseiﬁ cio Quattro Portoni; Lombardy, Italy), Baﬀ alo Blu (Caseiﬁ cio Defendi; Lombardy, Italy), Pendragon Buﬀ alo Cheese (Somerset Cheese Company; Somerset, England), Shipston Blue (Carron Lodge; Lancashire, England), Mozzarella di Bwufala Campana PDO (multiple producers; Italy).
ROBIOLA TRE LATTI
Luigi Guﬀ anti Formaggi (Arona, Piedmont, Italy)
Mixed-milk cheeses may sound unusual, but they actually make perfect historic sense. As seasons changed and milk from diﬀerent herds tended to dry up, cheesemakers typically continued with whatever milk was on hand. Cow, goat and sheep are the tre (three) latti (milks) in this soft, creamy pillow of cheese, cared for by the renowned aﬃneur Luigi Guﬀ anti. If you close your eyes and think about it, you might taste each milk in turn: cream, butter, tang.
Substitutions: Toma Della Rocca (Caseiﬁ cio dell’Alta Langa; Lombardy, Italy), Hummingbird (The Farm at Doe Run; Coatesville, Pennsylvania, USA), Cremet (Sharpham Dairy; Devon, England), Robiola Bosina (Caseiﬁ cio dell’Alta Langa; Piedmont, Italy).
Dry white wine
Roasted, unsalted cashews
Fresh lemon slices and rosemary, to garnish
These moreish nuts are very slightly spicy and sweet with brown sugar and maple syrup, a great foil for the savoriness of blue cheese especially.
2 cups/270g raw almonds, skin on
½ cup/100g dark brown sugar
¼ cup/60g maple syrup
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
Makes 2 cups/300g
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) Gas 5.
Mix all the ingredients except for the sel gris together in a bowl until the almonds are well coated. Spread the almonds on a non-stick baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 5–8 minutes. The sugars will bubble and turn a darker color.
Remove the almonds from the oven and stir with a wooden spoon. Set aside to cool on the baking sheet. As they cool, the sugars will begin to harden. When the almonds have cooled, serve them in a bowl with your cheese board. The nuts can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week at room temperature.