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Say Cheese: The Keswick manner

Rind and interior views of Keswick Creamery cheeses at the farmers market: (on the left, clockwise from top) Madd Tomme, wine-washed, Tommenator; (on the right, from top) Tommenator, wine-washed, Mad Tomme. (Domenica Marchetti)

Melanie Dietrich Cochran and her husband, Mark, only started making their washed-rind tomme-style cheeses last September. But the owners of Keswick Creamery, in Newburg, Pa., must be doing something right, because these cheeses, which debuted recently at Washington-area farmers markets, are really good.

The small family dairy, which I wrote about last July, has earned many fans with its selection of fresh and aged cheeses as well as its dairy products, all made from the milk of its own grass-fed Jersey cows. Its Vermeer, a Dutch-style semi-aged cheese, and quark, a fresh, tangy spreadable cheese, are two of my favorites.

Last August, looking to expand the dairy’s repertoire, Mark Cochran took a cheesemaking class with acclaimed Vermont cheesemaker and dairy consultant Peter Dixon, where he learned to make tomme. The semi-soft cheese, typical of the ones made in the French, Swiss and Italian Alps, is characterized by a mottled rind and a creamy, elastic interior shot through with small holes.

Cochran wanted to incorporate local flavor, so the dairy created a series of washed-rind tommes using four brine solutions.

Tommenator is made using the yeast and sediment from Troegs Brewing Co.’s double-bock Troegenator beer, which imparts a hoppy finish to the cheese. Mad Tomme is brushed with the yeast and sediment of Troegs Mad Elf Ale, a holiday cherry-flavored brew. Happy Jack is made with hard cider from Hauser Estate Winery. The most recent addition to the series is a wine-washed cheese that uses the pressings from Adams County Winery’s cabernet sauvignon grapes.

Keswick featured Tommenator, Mad Tomme and the wine-washed cheese available for tasting the other day at the White House FreshFarm Market, and I can honestly say I don’t know which one I liked best. Tasting them side by side offers a great example of how a brine can completely change a cheese’s flavor profile.

Bovre, another Keswick fave of mine. (Adriana Marchetti)

“The wash really affects the flavor and the color of the rind. But it creates different aromas, too,” Cochran told me. “It’s neat to see how washing cheese with two different beers from the same brewery really changes the cheese.”

He was right. Tommenator has a firm but edible rind that is pale brown with large patches of white bloom. The interior is creamy, with a rich, pungent flavor and slightly funky aroma and distinct tang.

Mad Tomme has a caramel-colored rind speckled with white. is reminiscent of a good, buttery classic Swiss cheese, but creamier and more intensely flavored, with an appealing sweet finish.

The wine-washed cheese has a beautiful chocolate brown and white mottled rind. The interior is golden, with an assertive, almost cheddary flavor and a slightly bitter finish.

All of these cheeses would be at home not only on a cheese board, but also in quiches, savory tarts and sandwiches.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one more Keswick cheese that caught my fancy the other day: bovre. This is a fresh cheese, butter-colored, salty and creamy-crumbly. Although the name implies the cheese is a cow’s-milk version of chevre, my husband and I immediately likened it to good farmstead cottage cheese (with much smaller curds), fresh-tasting, milky and mildly sour. I ended up tossing it with egg noodles, diced sausage and ham and fresh English peas for dinner. There were no leftovers.

-- Domenica Marchetti (Follow me on Twitter.)

By The Food Section  |  June 1, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Say Cheese  | Tags: Domenica Marchetti, Say Cheese  
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So glad you wrote about this.

We are delighted to have cheesemaker Mark and All of these delicious Keswick cheeses at the Bloomingdale Farmers' Market Sundays 10-2 at First and R Street NW, a community, producer- only market right next to the Big Bear Cafe.

Posted by: robinshuster | June 1, 2010 8:20 PM | Report abuse

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