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Chicagoist Cheese of the Month: Bloomsdale From Baetje Farms

By Erika Kubick in Food on Aug 15, 2014 4:30PM

Bloomsdale with blueberry jam, walnuts and charcoal crackers.

Welcome to the cheese of the month! Every month, I aim to introduce to you a little wedge of glory that will awaken your inner curd nerd. Without further ado, say hello to Bloomsdale, a soft-ripened goats milk cheese dusted with ash from Baetje Farms in Missouri.

Baetje Farms is a farmstead creamery, meaning they own, pamper, and milk all of their little goats. Steve and Veronica Baetje have made cheese for more than 10 years and owned goats since 1998. Their herd is about as loved as your aunt’s toy poodle: the goats sip an unlimited supply of filtered spring water as well as warm organic herbal teas (seriously). Their diet consists of organic mineral supplements, locally grown alfalfa hay and antibiotic-free whole grains, customized to provide the perfect ratio of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Naturally, they are never confined, but free to romp and play as they please. Baetje Farms is a goat’s paradise, and that shows in the luscious goat milk, and eventually the cheese.

Bloomsdale is named after the area where Baetje is located and has been dressed with numerous awards, placing first place in 2012 by the American Cheese Society. Inspired by Valençay, a classic French chèvre, the story of the cheese’s pyramid shape goes back to the days of Napoleon. After returning from a disastrous campaign in Egypt, Napoleon was so haunted by the pyramid shape of Valençay that he lopped off the top. From that point on, the cheese was made with out the top, and Bloomsdale carries on the tradition. After the cheese is set in its mold, it is then rolled in pine ash and salt and ripened until the beautiful white rind blooms over the surface.

Bloomsdale chilling with Gran Gesta Cava Brut Rosé

When young, the cheese is mild and cool with a pleasant funk on the rind akin to white button mushrooms. As the cheese ages, the inner layer beneath the rind goes from crumbly to runny and a minerally funk with a slight piquancy emerges. I recommend eating this cheese earlier in its life, but if you want a chèvre with a bang, let it age into a gooey dream.

Bloomsdale is best served with honey, dried fruit and crackers, but also pairs nicely with summer jams. Enjoy it along side a dry rosé, acidic and dry whites like sauvignon blanc and fruity reds like Beaujolais. Light, citrusy beers like hefeweizen, wits or creamy pale ales also make a lovely partner to this lovely chèvre. When pairing, remember the cheese is both summery and on the mellow side, so you’re better off choosing something seasonal and light-bodied.

You can find Bloomsdale and other Baetje cheese at Whole Foods Market, Pastoral, or you can order through their website.