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Twig Farm Soft Wheel goat cheese (Photos)

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Twig Farm's washed-rind wheel is a raw goat's milk cheese (occasionally raw cow's milk), made with animal rennet and aged for about 80 days. The rind is washed with whey brine during the aging period. The wheel is about 6 inches in diameter and about 3 inches high. Its classified as a semi-soft cheese; the color is the typical orange-y color of a washed-rind cheese, with some white mold and minor depressions from curing. My sample was probably a tiny bit past peak, as the rind had started to depress, but it was a delicious cheese nonetheless.

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Twig Farm is located in West Cornwall, Vermont, about 10 miles South of Middlebury, CT, and about 10 miles East of the NY-VT border, in Addison County. According to the town's website, Cornwall was chartered in 1761, most likely founded by residents from Litchfield, CT, about 200 miles to the South. It was named after Cornwall, Connecticut, and was founded as an agricultural community. The 2010 census put the population of the town at just over 1,100 people. The area remains generally agricultural.

The farm was founded in 2005 by Michael Lee and Emily Sunderman. Michael manages the goats and makes the cheese while Emily manages the business. According to their website, the operation is primarily farmstead, with the cheeses made by hand using traditional equipment and methods and aged on-site. Michael's education as a cheesemaker was hands-on, with an apprenticeship at Peaked Mountain Farm in Townshend, VT. The herd consists of 25 milking does, primarily Alpine Dairy goats (also known as French Alpine). the original Alpine breed originated in Europe, and was introduced into America in 1922. Crossbreeding with various other breeds of Alpine goats created the American Alpine, which produces high volumes of milk, making it a great choice for dairies. The farm's website does not indicate which Alpine breed is used.

I found Twig's cheese at Murray's in New York, where a taste at the counter proved impetus enough to buy for my first cheese tasting of 2013. The aroma is typical of a washed-rind cheese, a bit "sweaty" with an enticing funkyness, slightly (but not unpleasant) barn-yardy, buttery, lactic notes, and a little hint of rubber. The paste is a matte ivory color with a smooth, creamy appearance. The texture is melty - a bit between my fingers softened easily, and in the mouth melts nicely with a smooth, creamy feeling. The flavor is slightly herbal/vegetal, with flavors of milk, herbed butter, and a dash of white pepper. The finish is medium, with a pleasant evolution from cream to butter to what I can only describe as buttered brussel sprouts. It was one of the favorites at the tasting. It paired nicely with a Slovenian Sauvignon Blanc (similar to Collio Sauvignons) and did fairly well with less-tannic, fruity reds.

Twig Farm's cheeses are available from a variety of locations, including most cheese shops in New York, Cowgirl Creamery in San Francisco and Washington, and other locations across the country. A list of locations is available on their website.

Sources: TwigFarm.com; "History of the Town of Cornwall" by Lyman Matthews (1862); Google Maps;

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