It’s Friday and I’m Still Alive!
Yesterday, I had my first grown-up surgical experience. My hospital gown exposed my bare ass, I wore an IV, and had to remove my nose ring, which I consequently dropped and had to crawl around on the floor with my ass out until I found it. That mostly just made for a better Snap Story though. Anyway, all things considered it was actually a really good experience. I feel great. my surgeons were all charming, and I gained like 6 Instagram followers just talking about cheese. Despite being sliced open, it was a very pleasant experience.
Obviously, the last thing I ate before the pre-surgery fast was a 1.5 ounce portion of goat gouda, an apricot, and a couple black currants. Maybe that’s why everything went so well. It put me in a relaxed, euphoric state and kept my blood sugar steady through the fast. In fact, I consumed extra cheese all week in preparation for this. Starting with a wheel of Willoughby from Jasper Hill Farm.
Willoughby is a pudgy little washed-rind cheese made of pasteurized cow’s milk from the cows at my favorite creamery, Jasper Hill Farm. Marisa Mauro originally created the cheese at her own Ploughgate Creamery, but was forced to cease production when a devastating fire broke out in 2011. At the time, Mauro was already aging Willoughby in the Cellars at Jasper Hill. Rather than let this luscious beauty die out, Jasper Hill Farm bought the recipe and began producing the wheels of Willoughby themselves. As for Mauro, Ploughgate Creamery is back thanks to a land grant and she now makes artisanal butter.
Thank the heavens that Jasper Hill saved Willloughby from extinction, because this cheese is ridiculously delicious. The paste is thick and decadent like pudding, with deep, savory flavors of buttered corn, braised beef, fresh herbs, and ripe peaches. The thin, delicate rind has a rosy-orange hue that, when cut, crumbles away into the gooey paste. Be careful while handling this little one, as he’s likely to bruise. Like fruit, a cheese will deteriorate more quickly when bruised.
I highly recommend allowing Willoughby to sit unwrapped at room temperature for about two hours before serving. Though his paste is fairly approachable, the rind is naturally very stinky and should air out a bit to relieve the aggressive odor. Also, you just can’t fully experience Willoughby when he’s cold, which dulls the flavor and stiffens the texture. Once he’s warmed and runny, cut him into wedges, place onto a thin crusty chunk of sourdough and drizzle with honey. Divinity walks.
Provenance: Greensboro, Vermont
Milk: pasteurized, cow
Cost: about $16.00 per 8 oz wheel
Palate level: intermediate
Profile: buttery, beefy, succulent,
Pairings: tart berries, raw honey, funky saison, sparkling rosé
Thanks to Jasper Hill Farm for providing the perfect wheel of Willoughby!