This past Saturday at WFM, I got chatting with the folks at the cheese counter here in Fresno, as I am so often wont to do. Some of them know I am a former WFM cheesemonger, and will kindly go out of their way to be sure I hear about new arrivals.
That’s how I got turned on to Bellwether Farms’ Carmody Reserve. The cheesemonger (I know her by sight but haven’t noted her name, embarrassingly) offered me some, and it had clearly just been cut and was in beautiful shape – I know I might not get another chance to try it in as perfect condition.
I didn’t know a thing about it, so I didn’t know what to expect when I put it in my mouth, but I was delighted to discover that it has caramel-like aged Gouda notes, a pleasant sharp tang, and a lovely nutty aromaticity as it warms to body temperature. I took it home and we enjoyed a bit of it last night along with a potato, green bean and Puy lentil salad with fresh basil and a sherry vinegar and olive oil dressing.
When I went to look up more information about the farm (which is in Sonoma), I found the image of the cheese that is included above left (I borrowed it from Bellwether’s website). When I saw the image, I was a little puzzled. The wheel I tasted and bought from was far more aged-looking than the one pictured at left – it had a carameled yellow flaky interior with a shining, burnished exterior, and a slightly concave top and bottom – not at all like the cream-colored paste and flat top and bottom of this cheese.
The reason I had originally headed for the website was that the label had just said "rennet," and the Whole Foods people didn’t know offhand what type it was. I had taken a chance that because the cheese was domestic it was probably microbial rennet and therefore suitable for vegetarians. Having looked for that information on Bellwether’s website and not having discovered it, I dropped them a line to ask this afternoon. I received a reply back within an hour or two – on a holiday no less – from cheesemaker Liam Callahan. Here’s what he wrote: