The votes are in for your favorite cheeses of 2011. 161 different cheeses were nominated by you, my loyal readers, and 202 votes were cast.
I had to devise a system for voting and here's what I did. The cheese you nominated as your #1 favorite was awarded 5 points; your #2 was awarded 4 points; #3 received 3 points; #4 got 2 points and #5 received 5 points. If you voted for more than 5 cheeses, those above 5 didn't receive any votes. Unfortunately, if you voted for a specific cheese company and didn't name specific cheeses, no pints were allowed. Such as: "any Cabot cheese"; while any Cabot cheese is a delight... not specific enough for vote tallying.
#1 - The cheese you voted your favorite for 2011 is Rush Creek Reserve from Uplands Cheesein Dodgeville, Wisconsin. The Lady and I have never tasted this cheese, but that will change today. The good folks at Murray's Cheesesent moi and The Lady a "wheel" of this unpasteurized cow milk cheese to celebrate the New Year and The Lady's birthday, which is today... We review it tomorrow as part of our NYE cheese board review. Rush Creek is seasonal and made in small batches. You may have to wait for 2012 to try this cheese.
#2 - as voted by you, is a favorite around The Manse: Rogue River Blue. This divine seasonal cheese from Rogue Creamery is Oregon Blue wrapped in grape leaves that have been macerated in local pear brandy, made especially for this cheese. If you're lucky and the timing is right, you can join the Creamery next fall and help pick the leaves to be used on this cheese... and a lot of really cheesy people think this cheese is great... it was voted Best of Show in both 2009 and 2011 by the American Cheese Society... it doesn't get any cheesier than that!!! Made with raw cow milk and vegetarian suitable. Rogue Creamery also uses the highest sustainable practices both professionally and personally.
#3 - English Blue Stilton and specifically named - Colston Bassett Stilton from the Colston Bassett Dairy. Both the word Stilton and the Stilton Cheese Makers Association logo are certification trademarks. Recently, Stilton had also been registered as a Product of Designated Origin (or PDO) in the European Community. All these protections mean that the product can only be manufactured by licensed manufacturers in the three counties of Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire. All manufacturers are independently inspected to guarantee that the cheese conforms to type... and the above protection means that Stilton cannot be made in the Village of Stilton...
#4 Harbison from Jasper Hills Farm. Another cheese that The Lady and I have yet to taste. From their website: Harbison is a bark-wrapped bloomy-rind cheese with woodsy, sweet, herbal, and bright flavors. We named our newest cheese after Anne Harbison, seen by many to be the grandmother of Greensboro, VT. She's active in the community, runs a bed and breakfast, and volunteers at the public library, and has known the Kehler brothers since they were children. The bark, cut from Jasper Hill Farm's woodlands holds the delicate cheese together, provides flavor to the creamy paste, and allows for an ideal presentation as the centerpiece of a cheese plate. Made with pasteurized milk and traditional rennet, this cheese is available year round.
We had a tie for #5:
#5 Manchego and specifically named El Hidalgo Manchego. El Hidalgo translated from Spanish is "The Gentleman" and when used with Manchego refers to Don Quixote, The Gentleman From La Mancha. Spanish folk lore claims that Manchego was the favorite cheese of Don Quixote. Manchego is another protected cheese. From wikipedia:
"To be designated as Queso Manchego, the cheese must satisfy the following requirements:
It can only be made with the whole milk of sheep of the Manchega breed that are raised on registered farms within the designated area.
The cheese must have been aged for a minimum of 60 days (30 days for cheeses weighing up to 1.5 kg) and a maximum of two years.
The cheese must be produced by pressing in a cylindrical mould that has a maximum height of 12 cm and a maximum diameter of 22 cm.
Manchego cheese can be made from pasteurised or raw milk; if the latter, it may be labelled as Artesano (artisan). The only permitted additives are natural rennet, or another approved coagulating enzyme, and sodium chloride (salt)."
#5 Ewephoria, a sheep milk Gouda from Holland. No specific manufacturer was mentioned; the one we tasted here at The Manse was made on a small family-owned far in Northern Holland located in the Waddenzee. Made with pasteurized milk, this cheese is vegetarian suitable. It's ivory paste is creamy and melts on the palate leaving a sweet, nutty taste behind.
#7 on your list of 2011 favorite cheeses is Cabot Cheese Co-Op'sSeriously Sharp Cheddar. Another cheese not enjoyed here at The Manse but if it's a Cabot Cheese, you know it's good and if it's from Vermont... well, it's gonna be a great cheddar.
We have another tie for 8th Place:
#8 Dinah from Kurtwood Farms on Vashon Island in the Puget Sound, south of Seattle. Made by Kurt Timmermeister, Author of Growing A Farmer, Dinah is quite simply a little piece of Camembert Heaven made right here in the Pacific Northwest.
NYE's Cheese Board at The Manse
#8 Zimbo is a thistle-renneted cheese from Portugal. Here's how Murray's Cheese describes it: "Finally! We've been waiting for a raw sheep, thistle rennet creambomb that's bigger than Amanteigado but small enough to down with friends in an evening. Meet our new buddy Zimbro. Bound with strips of white cloth to contain the thick, pudding-like interior with its delicate, slightly sour flavor. Remove the top, scoop the innards, and enjoy with a glass of Crianza Rioja."
and we had 4 cheeses tie for 10th Place on your favorite cheeses of 2011:
#10 Comte from France. One of the world's great Alpine-Style cheeses and on the cheese board for tonight here at The Manse. The one we will be tasting tonight is from Fort Saint Antoine (via Murray's Cheese) and is aged 24 months. Made from raw milk.
#10 La Tur from Italy. We love this mixed-milk bloomy rind cheese that combines pasteurized cow, sheep and goat cheese into a disk of brainy-wrinkled nirvana. Because God loves the Italians, he let them create La Tur and share it with the world.
#10 Flora Belle from Rogue Creamery. The newest blues creation from Cary and David, this cheese is named after their grandmothers. The Lady brought a wedge home after her cheese-making trip to Rogue last August and both The Man and I swooned. Somehow, my review was delayed. It, too, is on our NYE's Cheese Board for tonight (The Lady says her gall bladder had better get ready...) and I will review it tomorrow.
Once again, thanks for voting... start your 2012 Cheese Diary tomorrow... we'll be doing this again next year!!! Happy New Year to all and Happy Birthday to The Lady...