Ford Farm Coastal Cheddar

December 30, 2009

The Ford Farm, located in the beautiful Dorset area on the English Channel on the Southern Coast of England, makes farmstead cheese, many of which have the EU PDO recognition for quality and consistency.

The Lady was wandering through Costco before Christmas looking for just the perfect gift for her Secret Santa and as she is prone to do, where there is cheese, you can find her snooping around looking for new cheeses that are not carried at her kiosk…  She is constantly checking to compare prices, packaging, etc. with the cheeses she does sell. One of her mantras when she returns home from Costco is, “Thank goodness most folks are NOT members of Costco!!”

After this particular visit she returned with a block of white cheddar named simply “Coastal”.

It is a mature English Cheddar with those calcium crystals that she and The Man love to find in aged cheeses (and also found in many aged goudas). Let me take a moment to explain what those little crunchy tidbits of flavor are and why they exist:

Calcium Lactate Crystals appear naturally in some cheeses. More particularly they appear on hard cheeses that have been matured for a long period for flavour development, eg Vintage Cheddar.  

A brief description of the process of crystal formation is as follows:

Calcium (a mineral) and lactose (a sugar) occur naturally in cow’s milk. Therefore cheese made from cow’s milk also contain these components. Starter bacteria (which are deliberately added to the milk in the cheese vat) ferment the lactose into lactic acid. Calcium and lactic acid associate themselves to form the calcium salt, Calcium Lactate. During ageing cheddar cheese loses water as part of the natural cheese-ripening process. This “expulsion” effect causes the calcium lactate to become more concentrated, until it is supersaturated, and loses solubility. At this stage the crystals can form. This explains why the crystals are more likely to appear in full flavoured ‘Vintage’ cheddar than the less developed ‘Medium’ cheddar.[1]

So now you know…

The Lady put together a cheese plate for the three of us last night (think –  too lazy to cook…) using Coastal Cheddar from the Ford Farm and other cheeses I have previously reviewed: Emmenthal, Beemster XO and Sartori Pepper. She served Beecher’s Original Crackers and just-out-of-the-oven a fresh hot French Baguette.

It was a “to die for” peasant dinner at the new manse.

As the description on the label states, Coastal is a mature, rugged cheddar and The Lady, The Man and I agreed it is one of our favorite English cheddars… many other English cheddars  leave us wondering, “What’s the big deal?”

But not Ford Farm Coastal Cheddar.

It is aged up to fifteen months and has lots of crystals that contribute to its approval by this feline foodie. The flavor is slightly sweet and very nutty…everything I look for in my cheddars.

The Lady can bring home more from The Ford Farm and I suspect I will be one happy cheesehead…

I give Ford Farm Coastal Cheddar 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got.)

Serving Suggestions: Obviously this cheese works well on a cheese plate as that is how The Lady introduced The Man and me to this cheese. I am hoping the next use will be to add it to a mac n cheese creation. I also think Coastal would pair well with apples, pears and grapes. The Man put a little dollop of Ficoco Spread on his and pronounced it a successful pairing.

Wine Pairings: The Lady had a glass of 14 Hands Merlot but The Man chose a glass of Oregon’s A to Z Pinot Noir.

Beer Pairings: I chose a stein of Wisconsin’s Lakefront Brewery’s Cream City Pale Ale (just kidding, The Lady won’t let me near alcohol. She claims I am something called a “sloppy drunk”…sheesh humankinds… too many rules and regulations for this free-spirited, rebel feline.)

Source: Cow’s Milk from cows that live happily on The Ford Farm.


[1] http://www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/

The Lady’s “Secret Santa” at the store drew a picture of me, your favorite feline foodie…The Lady thinks she knows who drew the portrait but is not sure due to that “secret” thingie…she and I love this drawing…don’t you?

Made From Raw Milk

Our new manse is located close to a “Super” Wal-Mart, which includes a huge grocery section. The Lady felt the need to checkout their cheese section…aka “spying on the competition”. She was pleased to advise The Man that their cheese table would never be considered competitive with hers (and that’s not bragging… just the facts…). However, she did bring home a little block of cheese that I had been hoping to sample and review: and what a terrific gem of a cheese it is.

Modesto, California, in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, is the home of the Fiscalini Farmstead Cheese Company which has been making cheese since 1914 in the tradition of their Swiss ancestors who were cheesemakers in Switzerland for more than 300 years. Fiscalini has won many awards not only for their cheeses but also for their humane treatment of the cows that provide the milk for their cheeses. Their herd consists of 1400 Holstein and as with all Farmstead cheese; the cows live where the cheese is made.

This aged cheddar was the only American cheddar to be recognized at the 2003 World Cheese Awards in London, walking away with the Silver Medal in the category where no gold medal was given.

This white, buttery cheddar is mature without being sharp. It crumbles when knifed but not too much as to not sit well on a cracker. I suspect it would do quite well as one of the main cheeses in Mac n Cheese.

The Man was especially taken with this cheese.

In addition to this Premium Cheddar, the Fiscalini Family also makes several other award-winning cheeses including San Joaquin Gold, an extra-matured bandaged cheddar, several flavored cheddars and they have recently added fresh mozzarella to their line.

I give Fiscalini Farmstead Premium Aged Cheddar 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got), in part because The Man was swooning while eating this cheese and in part because it is excellent!!

Serving Suggestions: Apples, pears and grapes with a few Beecher’s Crackers on a cheese plate and life is indeed good!!

Wine Pairing: 14 Hands Merlot (This Washington State red has become a favorite of The Lady.)

Beer Pairing: Trappist Chimay Ale

Awards: Silver Medal 2003 World Cheese Awards

Source: Raw Holstein Cow Milk

 The Fine Family of Beecher's Crackers

Just when I thought Kurt and the gang at Beecher’s had done it all; they went and surprised this Feline Foodie (that would be me)with my very own stash of No Woman and their new Flagship Crackers to make my stash that much more special.

Along with my stash, and thank goodness The Lady didn’t try to claim it was her stash, she brought triangles of Flagship and Marco Polo which she shared with The Man. Begrudgingly, I shared the new crackers with them (like I had a choice…).

It was a Beecher’s evening at the manse and the three of us were in our own little cheese and cracker heaven as we sipped our favorite adult beverages (I had tap water) and snacked on our Beecher’s Feast.

Every other cheese cracker on the market might as well fold up their bags and head on home…Flagship Crackers are nothing short of amazing. While the cheese taste is subtle, the Flagship comes through and kicks this cracker into the stratosphere. They are nutty and the crunch fills the air with sublime gastronomical delight… is that “waxing poetic” or what???

Seriously, these crackers are delish!!

The packaging and the shape of the crackers follows the Beecher’s tradition of their Original and Hazelnut; but this cracker takes Beecher’s to a new level.

And one final note…even if Kurt and Jena had not sent the stash…I would still feel the same…after all it was No Woman that began this amazing journey in the cheese blogosphere for me…

I give Beecher’s Flagship Crackers 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got).

Serving Suggestions: This should not come as a surprise…Beecher’s Cheeses…any and all of them…

A final note: I overheard The Lady telling The Man that Kurt and Jena have invited her to visit My Mecca (home of No Woman) and make cheese with them after the first of the year… to quote Kelly Bundy, “My mind wobbles” with anticipation… The Lady will come home smelling of No Woman… it just doesn’t get any better than that!!

FTC Full Disclosure – The cheesemaker/manufacturer sent me their product, hoping I would review the product/cheese.

I have several reviews to post today but felt an explanation for my unexpected absence might be in order…

For reasons unknown to your humble feline foodie (that would be me) The Lady and The Man decided to move to a different  manse…one a little smaller but newer than the old manse and still in the Pacific Northwest, aka “the-recently-too-damned-cold Pacific Northwest”.

I would also like to add that I was not once consulted regarding this move and I have not been a happy feline foodie the past few weeks… I left The Lady a gift one morning on the rug by my box and all she said was “Bad Spaulding Gray”… you’d think she could take a hint…

I don’t care for the sound of the tape dispenser building boxes to hold “stuff” wrapped in that amazingly annoying bubble wrap crap. The only good thing is that most of the boxes came from the Cheese Kiosk and all smell like cheese…now that I like…

We have been in the new manse about two weeks and yesterday I stepped out on the front door stoop and took in my first whiff of the new neighborhood… I caught a few faint scents of my new Brigade… a couple of them may have left me messages in the front yard…

Perhaps The Brain was The Brain behind this move and because I had completed my Observations in the quiet Knoll Heights neighborhood of Salmon Creek… he decided it was time for me to take on Orchards… I must be The Man… I mean, The Feline…

The Gruyere The Lady Made in Wisconsin - May 2009

As you may recall, The Lady and I (although I was NOT invited…) went to Wisconsin last Spring and The Lady made cheese at Roth-Kase Cheese Company for the company where she works.

After aging six months, the Grand Cru Gruyere has arrived… still waiting for the Gran Queso to arrive…

Last night she brought a piece home and made Grilled Ham and the Lady’s Gruyere Sandwiches… The Man and I were in cheese heaven… life is good…

This Grand Cru Gruyere, the only Gruyere made in America, is sweet and nutty and lacks the metallic aftertaste that many of the European Gruyeres have…

And now you know the rest of the Wisconsin Story…

This Feline Foodie gives The Lady’s Grand Cru Gruyere 4 Paws out of 4 Pws (cause that’s all I’ve got…