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The Soft Cheeses of Summer


Morcella; Marie Flanagan (3)

What goes with this month’s warm summer breezes and seasonal sneezes?  Why, soft summer cheeses, of course.

And lest you think that delicious, creamy, soft cheeses need hail from France or Italy, think again. These three soft cheeses are all made right here in the Midwest.

The first cheese on my list is the softest and lightest–Morcella, made by Shepherd’s Way Farm in Minnesota. Morcella is a soft-ripened sheep’s milk cheese made with local morel mushrooms by Shepherd’s Way’s cheesemaker Jodi Ohlsen Read. Irresistibly creamy, mild, earthy, and delicate, Morcella can be easily overwhelmed by strong flavors, so enjoy it simply with crusty bread. And grab it while you can–this small-batch cheese is made with spring and summer milk, so it’s only available through September.

On the other end of the flavor spectrum is Arabella cheese from a relatively new cheese maker, Jacobs and Brichford of Indiana. Their Arabella is a soft, tallegio-style cheese made with grass-fed milk from Jersey, Normande, and Tarentaise cross cows. Pale yellow, creamy, buttery, earthy, and aromatic, Arabella’s strong flavor profile can accompany a bottle of barbera or valpolicella with grace.

Striding forth between the delicate Morcella and the bold Arabella is Good Thunder, a new(er) cheese from Alemar Cheese Company in Minnesota. Made with grass-fed milk from Cedar Summit Farm, Good Thunder has a stiffer, pasty texture, with a smoothness that is slightly reminiscent of its sister cheese, Bent River. The lovely squares of cheese are molded and salted by Kieth Adams and his crew, and then the rind is washed in Surly Bender, an oatmeal brown ale. This somewhat “stinky” cheese has a soft, orange rind, and a slightly smoky flavor that pairs well with a variety of beers, including brown ales and black ales.

So why not bypass the stove, and treat yourself to soft cheese and salad for dinner or a picnic? All three of these beauties are available throughout the Twin Cities at various farmers markets and co-ops (I spotted all three at Seward Co-op last weekend, and saw Steven Read sampling Morcella at the Minneapolis Farmers Market on Sunday).

  Good Thunder from Alemar cheese co.                 Arabella from jacobs and brichford                    

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Minnesota Monthly's Taste Blog answers your restaurant and dining questions, dishes on latest discoveries, reflects on breaking news, and generally brings the plate to the page with a skilled crew of experts: Learn more about the Taste bloggers.

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