Camembert is a soft-ripened cheese combining the tang of a blue with the creaminess of a delicate brie. While traditional French versions use only cows’ milk, Nancy’s Hudson Valley Camembert from New York uses milk from the farm’s sheep, mixed with a neighbor’s rBGH-free cows’ milk.  The Old Chatham farm boasts 1,000 East Friesian sheep grazing on organically-maintained fields, and is America’s largest sheep diary farm. (Sheep’s milk is significantly higher in protein and calcium than cows’ milk.) You may recognize the name from a wonderful line of sheep’s milk yogurt available at Whole Foods.

Hudson Valley Camembert has a soft, deceivingly mild bloomy rind surrounding one of the silkiest cheeses I have ever enjoyed. Sampled at room temperature – as all cheeses should be served! – it spreads like butter on a slice of toast or wheat cracker. The butterfat coats your tongue, and the bite finishes with a soft tang. It comes both in a round and in a cute little square that would make a great holiday gift for the cheeseophile on your list.

camembert and cranberry

Serve this cheese with a sweet, crisp apple on the side; New York’s favorite McIntoshes would be ideal. I enjoyed it with a dab of spiced cranberry sauce and pinch of thyme on top. (Was cooking a Thanksgiving-inspired dinner at the time and had thyme to spare.) Stick with white wines, perhaps something bubbly or even a Finger Lakes Riesling in keeping with the regional theme.

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