This Sunday, give the world’s best mom the world’s best cheese.
This week, I wanted to write about a cheese that’s appropriate to bring home for Mother’s Day, but I can’t censor my love for the Portland stripper of sexy blues. Bayley Hazen Blue is a raw farmstead cow milk cheese from the Cellars of Jasper Hill in Greensboro, Vermont. Since it’s debut, the cheese has amassed a cult following and won numerous awards including best raw milk cheese at the 2014 World Cheese Awards, beating 2,600 other cheeses from 33 countries. It’s made with a traditional rennet and aged for 3 – 4 months to develop an earthy, toothsome rind and fudge-like texture. It’s named after an old military road commissioned by George Washington during the Revolutionary War. While there was no battle to speak of, the road did bring the first settlers to Greensboro.
Bayley Hazen is one of those cheeses that gets better with every wheel I try. Rather than overwhelming the palate with a punchy piquancy like most blue cheeses are wont to do, Bayley Hazen is milk-forward in flavor, which highlights the incredible qualities in the raw milk. Aromas of the terroir of Greensboro waft from both paste and rind, bringing along notes of a pastoral landscape with fresh dewy grass and chocolate-y soil. The dense, biscuity texture coats your mouth, allowing for a complex flavor experience featuring notes of toasted and sugared nuts, sharp anise spice, and stone fruits so overripe they’re almost bitter. Bayley Hazen’s perfectly formed blue pockets are evenly sprinkled throughout the paste, bringing a robust but not overwhelming piquancy. While the flavors are enchanting, it’s the fudge-like paste that sets Bayley Hazen Blue apart from all the other cheeses.
Bayley plays well with your typical blue pairings, such as a glass of cream sherry or imperial stout like Old Rasputin from North Coast Brewing. It’s also the perfect cheese to enjoy with a cup of medium-roast, low-acid coffee and some sweets. I enjoy surrounding Bayley with pieces of quality dark chocolate and toasted, unsalted nuts. Mild cookies, like these caramel-filled Dutch Stroopwaffle, are also a lovely marriage of sweet and salty flavor.
Nothing says “Thanks for dealing with my shit, mom!” like a platter of Bayley Hazen Blue and chocolates. If you want to add a little more love, crumble Bayley Hazen into this pear and ham quiche from David Leibovitz.