Chicagoist's Cheese Of The Month: Montgomery's Farmhouse Cheddar
By Erika Kubick in Food on Nov 7, 2014 7:00PM
If you’re looking for that perfect autumnal cheese to complete your Thanksgiving spread, look no further than Montgomery’s Farmhouse Cheddar. The Montgomery family has made this cheddar for three generations at Manor farm in Somerset, England, just 20 miles outside of the town of Cheddar. The cheese is made from raw cow’s milk and wrapped in cloth, which yields a crumbly, flavorful cheese. It’s much more funky and robust than the sharp orange blocks of American cheddars you’re used to, which are aged in vacuum sealed plastic to prevent the formation of a rind and maintain moisture.
Montgomery’s cheddar is made daily from Friesian-Holstein milk with the same cheese cultures that have been used for over 70 years. While these cheese cultures can yield a variety of results, they also provide Montgomery’s with its unique characteristics. Each wheel is aged between 12 and 14 months, and we like it best in it’s older age when the paste develops a pleasant crystalline crunch. A lot of wheels of Montgomery’s cheeses have a blue streak in the paste, caused by molds leeching in through the cloth. A wedge with this flavorful vein is like a winning lottery ticket, so get one if you can.
The cheese has a straw-colored, brittle paste and a natural, edible rind, once the cloth has been peeled off. The cheese smells of mashed potatoes with flavors ranging from sweet, tangy and fruity to deep, earthy and even a little soil-like. The spectrum of flavors always yields memories of comfort foods like stuffing and gravy, so it will shine among other classic Thanksgiving foods. This cheese is great with apples or nuts, or by itself alongside hoppy pale or red ales, dry ciders or full-bodied whites like chardonnay. Montgomery’s is pretty widely distributed among fine food retailers, so find a wedge where artisanal cheese is sold like Whole Foods, Marion Street Market, or Pastoral.