In honor of North America’s delicious and diverse array of cheeses and the farmers, cheesemakers, retailers, cheesemongers and chefs who bring them to your table, The American Cheese Society has designated October as American Cheese Month. To celebrate, the cheese teams at Bi-Rite Market 18th Street and Bi-Rite Market Divisadero are going to give special weekly shout-outs to some of our favorite American cheeses.
As a cheesemonger, I’ve learned over the years that there are certain words that seem either to entice or repel the average cheese-craving Bi-Rite shopper. Categorical, overly-simple, vague terms like Swiss, Pecorino and Brie are among the three that I hear most often. It is for this reason that I want to ring in our celebration of American Cheese Month with a delightful cheese that reminds us that a well-made farmstead cheese can challenge our biases about the quality and diversity of American cheeses.
Moses Sleeper, an elegant but accessible offering from Vermont’s Jasper Hill Farm, is indeed a cheese to be celebrated. Named for a Revolutionary War scout, it is made in a style similar to the small-format Camembert-style cheeses that once dominated family farms in Normandy. Made with milk from Jasper Hill’s herd of Ayershire cows, this snowy, bloomy-rinded cheese brings beautiful and meaningful flavor back to a style of cheese that has too often (though not always unjustly) been written off as insipid. Moses Sleeper’s flavor profile changes with age, so when we have young wheels, we celebrate the cheese’s bright, lactic milkiness. In more mature wheels, the cheese has a stronger, deeper flavor redolent of cruciferous vegetables. Moses Sleeper is an incredible snacking cheese – nice with fruit when young and better with savory meats and pickles as it ages.
Moses Sleeper is one of many reasons to celebrate the visionaries and cheesemakers at Jasper Hill Farm who continue to raise the bar for American cheese and radically reshape the landscape of American cheesemaking. We’ve just got a handful of cases, so stop in soon for a taste at either Bi-Rite Market location and join us in the celebration. American Cheese Month has begun!