Cheese of The Week is a weekly feature on The Daily Meal, drawing on the expertise of internationally renowned cheese expert and consultant Raymond Hook. What follows is based on an interview with Hook.
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Reading is a washed-rind cow's milk cheese from Vermont's Spring Brook Farm. It’s aged for about three months, is unpasteurized, and is as close to flawless as cheese can get.
Spring Brook Farm only has about 40 Jersey cows on their pasture, so the milk for this cheese is brought in from neighboring farms (the majority of their own milk is used for the flagship cheese, Tarentaise). Each wheel weighs about 20 pounds, and has a pinkish hue from the good bacteria. The cheese has been modeled after French Raclette, and has many of the same qualities: a rich, buttery color, a soft, dense, and creamy texture, and full-bodied flavors of grains and the pasture.
Each wheel gets regular washings of bacteria-rich brine called morge for about a month (similar to sourdough starter), and is then switched over to fresh brine. After at least three months, the cheese is ready to go. It’s a lush, rich cheese that melts on the tongue, and has a well-balanced flavor of the pasture (clover, wildflowers, grass) toasted grain, nuts, and sourdough bread. It’s perfect for melting over vegetables and bread, and pairs very nicely with a high-alcohol red (Hook recommends the Vale do Bomfim Douro DOC 2009, from northern Portugal).
"This is also a good story about good, people as much as good cheese," Hook adds. All cheese sold helps the farm continue its Farms for City Kids Foundation, which brings urban preteens to the 1,000-acre estate for a week of learning in an agricultural setting.