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Chicagoist's Cheese Of The Month: Oma

By Erika Kubick in Food on Jul 14, 2015 5:30PM

Photo by Erika Kubick

Now that it’s summer and you want to spend as much time as possible outside, you need a cheese that can stand up to the heat. Your perfect summer cheese will travel well and pair with both fresh salads and grilled meats. It will be rich but not heavy, maybe with a little summer funk. Basically, you need to get your hands on a ripened wedge of Oma, our Cheese of the Month for July.

Oma is a raw cheese made of cow’s milk from the Von Trapp Farmstead in Waitsfield, Vermont. Cheesemaker Sebastian von Trap, the third-generation owner and operator of the farm, is the first of his family to pursue cheese making. He named Oma after Erika von Trapp, Sebastian’s grandmother and the first-generation owner of the farm.

Once he crafts the cheese, Sebastian sends the young wheels of Oma off to The Cellars at Jasper Hill, where they mature for two to three months more in specialty aging caves. Under the care of specialty cheese caretakers, Oma forms a thin, toothsome rind with a rusty orange hue, a powdery white glow and a pungent aroma of toasted nuts and cultured butter. Despite the intense bouquet on the rind, the golden interior paste is actually rather mild and soft, but never runny. It’s an approachable and balanced washed-rind cheese.

Photo by Erika Kubick

Oma Is great for summer picnics because it’s not messy and runny like other soft cheeses, yet also doesn’t tend to sweat like more firm cheeses. It will soften and relax in the sun, just like your tanning body on the beach. Just don’t leave it out for more than an hour or so. Try it with a fig jam, summer cherries and lemon cookies. It also pairs really well with Belgian-style craft beer and dried or fresh figs. For a more savory application, pair it with olives and whole grain mustard.

You can find Oma at Potash Markets, Pastoral, Eataly and Olivia’s Market.