This Sunday, I’m putting a little Vermont in my Los Angeles. It very well could be snowing there so, I will just take the fermented beverages and dairy products and keep my LA sunshine, thank you.
Veronica Pedraza of the amazing Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont happens to be a friend of my dear friend Rachel. Veronica sent her a lovely package of cheese and some Eden Ice Cider. Rachel, being the generous woman that she is, shared those gifts with us. Also, she knew that if she didn’t, we would be come to her house at a midnight hour and run swiftly away with the goods. So we “agreed” upon the following equation- a park + sunny afternoon + a handful of smiling friends + the cheese and cider. The sum: a bunch of happy bellies.
This is an ice cider, not an ice wine. So, we’re talking apples, not grapes. I was super excited to give this a try as I had never had an ice cider before. The husband and wife team at Eden make this cider with a blend of 5 different heirloom apples. The fruit is harvested when it is ripe and it is then held in cold storage until frost-like temperatures arrive in Vermont. The apples are pressed and the juice is left outside in the cold to freeze for 6 to 8 weeks. Water is separated and the remaining apple concentrate is fermented. And there is no added sugar! The result is a crisp, clean and bright apple flavor with just enough natural sweetness to keep glass to lip. Delicious and a pleasure to drink. Everyone loved it.
That brings me to the cheese. Oh my. Utter and sheer joy crept on our collective faces as we began to unwrap the wonders of Jasper Hill. We had 2 new cheese friends two play with; Winnemere and Caspian. They are my new best friends.
Is your mouth watering yet? Good. The Winnemere is a seasonally produced cow’s milk cheese with a raspberry lambic washed rind bound by a strip of spruce bark. Everything from the bark to the milk and the beer used to wash the cheese are from the farm. The star of the day was a yet to be released Caspian robiola, a group effort made on Christmas Day at the farm. It is wrapped in grape leaves and soaked in ice wine (how amazing would it have been to get our hands on a bottle of that!) As the farm has a herd of Ayrshire cows, we assume this robiola is made from cow’s milk. Although a few of us thought there might have been some goat’s milk in the mix. Robiola is a traditional Northern Italian soft-ripened cheese and is usually cow’s milk or a blend of different proportions of cow, goat and sheep. In any case, Caspian rocked my world and the subtle lemony creaminess of the robiola was delicious with the sweet tart apple cider.
The afternoon snacking did not stop at cheese and cider alone. Our spread of accoutrements included: raisins, almond stuffed Italian dried figs, homemade lemon poppy seed crackers, charcoal crackers, raw almonds, orange slices and honey. What do you like to eat with your cheese and wine?