Chow Town

Blackstone is a happy marriage of cow and sheep milks with a peppery kick

Bellwether’s Blackstone gets a mild kick from black pepper.
Bellwether’s Blackstone gets a mild kick from black pepper.

October is American Cheese Month. The American Cheese Society says, “American Cheese Month is a celebration of North America’s delicious and diverse cheeses, and the farmers, cheesemakers, retailers, cheesemongers and chefs who bring them to your table.”

So I thought I would bring a different cheese to Chow Town readers every day in October. Stay tuned to see what delicious cheeses North America has to offer! There are sure to be some classic favorites and new must-haves that will suit everyone’s tastes.

Blackstone

Producer: Bellwether Farms

Place: Petaluma, Calif.

Milk: Sheep and cow

Type: Hard

This is Bellwether’s newest cheese. Though they are known for their very impressive Italian-style sheep’s milk cheeses, this is a mixed milk cheese that is studded with black peppercorns. The peppercorns are meant to subtly perfume the cheese and so they show up periodically but not in every bite. When you do get one, it turns on the spice with a mild kick.

For aging, the 3 pound wheels are rubbed with vegetable ash, ground pepper and rosemary, which adds a subtle herb note as well. These small wheels are aged for at least 6 weeks. The cheese has the classic pecorino and black pepper flavor but with a slight sweetness from the cow’s milk.

When I taste Blackstone, my mind automatically goes to pasta, brown butter, maybe some garlic tossed with a little olive oil and, of course, the Blackstone. It’s no wonder Blackstone took first place in this year’s American Cheese Society competition in a strong field of flavored cheeses.

Lincoln Broadbooks loves cheese. He is one of the first cheesemongers in the United States and Canada to become an American Cheese Society certified cheese professional. He is the manager and buyer for The Better Cheddar in Prairie Village. You can find him on Twitter @LincolnBbooks and on Instagram @lincycheese.

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