Jackson Farm in Oroville, WA and expert cheesemaker and farmer Sally Jackson. And this cheese is so special that the milk to make this cheese all comes from a beautiful Brown Swiss cow named Renata. The cheese is, of course called Renata. How great is that! When Renata is sick, there is no Renata cheese (which happened a while ago when she nibbled on a wire and got a case of "hardware disease). Luckily, Renata is doing well at the moment, and her amazing cheese is available if you know who to ask. I asked my friend Andrew over at Andrew's Cheese Shop for a chunk to try. I'd been wanting to try it, and since it is wrapped.
Anyway, Renata is one heck of a cow. Whatever she's snacking on in the fields is amazing. I swear she's eating herb salad rich in parsley and sorrel. According to the website, all the cows graze in the farm's aspen pasture every day. How dreamy! This cheese has a bit of the tang that comes from a washed rind cheese, but none of the sticky-ness. Darling Husband thought it was strong enough to compete with "the white part of a blue cheese." I didn't think it was quite that strong, but it was really creamy, nutty, tangy and herbal.
The leaves certainly keep the cheese moist, which I think helps make it so creamy. You can't eat them, though. In fact, if you've ever rolled your own cigarette or smoked an unfiltered cig, picking out the leaf bits out of your teeth whilst eating cheese reminds one of picking tobacco leaves from your teeth during your smoke. A gross analogy, I know, but it's what came to mind. (Yes, I used to occassionally indulge. No more - clouds the ability to taste cheese!) The mold layer under the leaves isn't really that tasty, and the texture is a little mealy. Not for the faint of heart, but not terrible.
I think I might really enjoy Renata as a bit of cheese toast, but at $38/pound, it would be a little more extravagant than my current budget will allow. For now, I'll enjoy it with a little Cabernet Franc and a cracker.