Hooked On Cheese: Rawstruck: A Perfect Synergy

Synergy can be defined as the interaction of two or more elements that produces a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects. In the scope of my cheesy world, I've found that synergy can occur when you take two great cheese elements – for example, an excellent milk and a fantastic cheesemaker – and combine them to make something stunning.

Today's story is a description of one such instance, where a raw milk cheese – a long-time favorite of mine – was finally produced by the artisanal, award-winning goat's milk dairy Coach Farm, which I've been a fan of for years.

I was first introduced to Coach Farm years ago by tasting their "grating stick," an aged, hard cheese that is deceptively simple and incredibly tasty. It is meant to be grated like a piece of Parmesan, but unlike Parmesan, it has a pleasantly tangy mineral flavor.

The Coach Farm dairy, located in the picturesque Hudson Valley of New York (a couple hours north of New York City), was founded by Miles and Lillian Cahn in 1985. Previously, the Cahns had founded and run Coach Leather – yes, the storied American design house. The cheese-loving world should be thankful they did so well selling their fine leather goods, since it enabled them to retire to the cheese business! They currently have over 800 goats on their farm, and they use their goat's milk exclusively for their own dairy goods.

Since I already knew I could trust the folks at Coach to deliver some seriously delicious cheeses, when they debuted Rawstruck™ last May, I knew I couldn't pass it up. And I'm certainly glad I didn't. Yes, I have to say it: I was awestruck by Rawstruck™. (Sorry, guys. I just had to go there.)

Rawstruck™ is made only one day a month, so it has a very limited production but tons of attention from the dairy. It is hand-ladled, which is very rare in modern cheese making since it necessitates a lot of extra work, and then, because it is made from raw milk, it has to age for a minimum of 60 days. It has a white bloomy rind, and each form is about four pounds in weight. It has hints of earthiness, minerality and a slight citrus bite. And due to the pungent raw milk used, it has a very pleasant linger on the palate.

I'm looking forward to serving this cheese to friends when the weather warms up, on a sun-filled rooftop deck with a crispy Belgian white ale, and perhaps some dried apricots and a very good bread. Perhaps, with my Rawstruck™ pairings I'll be able to create a little synergy of my own...I've got my fingers crossed!

Additional reporting by Madeleine James.