The other night I was with a group of cheesemonger pals sampling a platter of the current offerings at Mission Cheese on Valencia Street. I excitedly pointed out Bent River Camembert, a beauty that had landed on the shelves at 18th Street some weeks back and is still showing beautifully, urging them all to taste it before taking a heaping hunk for myself. We were all struck by the complexity of this divine organic cow’s milk cheese from Mankato, Minnesota. Conversations were sparked, smiles exchanged and joy deeply felt.
This ripe, pudgy cheese came rolling pleasantly into our lives from Alemar Cheese Company of Mankato. It contains buttery roasted vegetable notes, tangy acidic flavor swings, and that perfect springy bite that extends from the bloomy rind to a bright, creamy paste. It’s truly an expression of artisanal Old-World styles, an archetypal French cheese reinterpreted and expanded upon with typical American gumption. 100% grass-fed cows from Cedar Summit Dairy provide the milk, which pulsates through the cheese with lush ripeness. The vibrant waters of the river bend by Alemar’s production site shine through in the most pleasing way, making this cheese both flavorful and refreshing. And that’s saying something for a rich, buttery cheese like this one!
Not only is the Bent River Camembert a delight, but it comes with an interesting origin story. Alemar founder Keith Adams had started his food career as a co-owner of the Bagel Bros. bagel shops. When the bagel craze subsided in the early 2000s, Adams wished to tap into food in a more interactive and personal way. He found inspiration after attending the American Cheese Society conference and, mentored by California cheesemakers Peg Smith and Sue Conley of Cowgirl Creamery, he set up his aging facility in Mankato and created Alemar. Bent River and his other cheeses have taken off in a very exciting way, and we are honored to carry his excellent product.
I recommend pairing the Bent River with bitter, effervescent beer. At Mission Cheese I tried it with Magnolia’s Blue Bell Bitter and was delighted with the result. You can also try experimenting with light, minerally whites; this should compliment the creamy paste beautifully. I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I do!
Curds and whey,