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Say Cheese: Two new favorites from Utah

Beehive Cheese Co.'s Sea Hive, left, and Promontory Smoked Cheddar. (Domenica Marchetti)

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?

-- Domenica Marchetti, author of "Big Night In: More than 100 Wonderful Recipes for Feeding Family and Friends Italian-Style." Follow her on Twitter.

By The Food Section  |  January 5, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
 | Tags: Domenica Marchetti, cheddar, cheese  
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I haven't tried the Promontory yet, but I agree that the Sea Hive is delicious! Sometimes we grate a little onto pasta in place of parmimigiano - its salty flavor suits marinara sauce very well.

As far as new cheese discoveries go, I enjoyed the two-year Canadian Black Diamond Cheddar I used in my truffled macaroni and cheese for New Year's Eve.

Posted by: golda78 | January 5, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Sea Hive on pasta sounds lovely. And so does your New Years Eve mac & cheese. Thanks for chiming in, Golda78.

Posted by: Domenica1 | January 5, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Seeing the Utah reference made me think of a cheese I'd recently encountered--Barely Buzzed. Also a Utah cheese from the Beehive Cheese Co. It knocked my socks off. Here's a description from the makers:

This is a full bodied cheese with a nutty flavor and smooth texture. The cheese is hand rubbed with a Turkish grind of Colorado Legacy Coffee Company's (The Cheesemakers brother) "Beehive Blend". The blend consists of a mix of South American, Central American, and Indonesian beans roasted to different styles. French Superior Lavendar buds are ground with the coffee and the mixture is diluted with oil to suspend the dry ingredients in the rub. The rub imparts notes of butterscotch and caramel which are prevalent near the rind, but find their way to the center of the cheese. The cheese is aged on Utah Blue Spruce aging racks in our humidity controlled caves, and moved to different temperature during the aging process to develop texture and flavor. The name "Barely Buzzed" comes from Andrea at Deluxe Foods in California. She was the winner of the name this cheese contest.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | January 6, 2010 12:39 AM | Report abuse

Clearly I need to read more carefully as I entirely missed the second paragraph. Barely Buzzed is from the same folks and is mentioned in the article. A great cheese. I picked up my wedge at Unwined in Alexandria.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | January 6, 2010 12:42 AM | Report abuse

I'm glad you posted the description of Barely Buzzed. Thanks BB!

Posted by: Domenica1 | January 6, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

De nada, Domenica. I love the cheese blog.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | January 6, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

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