Say Cheese: Two new favorites from Utah
It’s becoming a familiar story, the business executive who decides to trade in the daily grind for something more soul-satisfying: cheesemaking. In the case of Utah brothers-in-law Pat Ford, a former real estate salesman, and Tim Welsh, a former software executive, this decision seems to have been a good call.
Since opening Beehive Cheese Co. in 2005, Ford and Welsh have won numerous awards for their cheeses. In 2007, the creamery took first place in the flavored cheddar category at the American Cheese Society competition for its Barely Buzzed, a cheddar rubbed with lavender and ground coffee beans (roasted in Colorado by Welsh’s brother). More recently, it earned a bronze medal at the World Cheese Awards last October for its Promontory Smoked Cheddar.
It was the latter that caught my attention the other day as I was perusing the display case at Cheesetique in Del Ray, looking for a cheese that I had never tried before (New Year, new cheese!).
One sliver and I was hooked.
Unlike many other smoked cheeses that I have tried, the smoke flavor in Promontory is subtle rather than pronounced, an undertone that enhances its buttery quality and fruity notes. The cheese is smoked with walnut shells and apples from a nearby farm. It is only mildly sharp, just enough to leave a little sting in the back of your throat.
Promontory Smoked is one of several variations on Beehive’s Promontory Cheddar, an Irish-style cheddar that is aged for a minimum of eight months. The creamery also makes a Cajun-spice-rubbed variation, as well as one with caraway seeds and one with habanero peppers.
Welsh and Ford learned their cheese-making skills at Utah State University. In addition to its various cheddars, Beehive makes a version of aged Jack called Uintah Jack, named for the town where the creamery is located; and a parmesan-style cheese called Aggiano, which was developed by students at Utah State’s agricultural school. All of Beehive’s cheeses are made with milk from a nearby dairy's Jersey cows.
Beehive’s most recent creation is Sea Hive, a cheddar-style cheese that is rubbed with local wildflower honey (Utah is the "beehive state," after all) and salt mined near Redmond, Utah. Cheesetique happened to have Sea Hive in stock as well, and as with the smoked Promontory, I was smitten from my first bite. Like Promontory, Sea Hive is firm, creamy and crumbly all at once. But it has a much more pronounced lemony tang that melts into a buttery richness as you chew.
Both of the Beehive cheeses I sampled were delicious on slices of baguette as well as on plain water crackers. But I wouldn’t hesitate to put them in a sandwich with good turkey or ham, or with avocado and sliced ripe tomato (in season).
What new cheese discoveries have you made since the holidays?
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