I have a soft spot for monastery-style cheeses. Their pungent aromas and savory, meaty flavors are dangerously addictive to this farm girl raised on meat and potatoes.
One of my all time favorites is Oka, originally manufactured by the Trappist monks in Oka, Quebec, Canada, and now owned by Agropur (but still aged 35 days in the original cellars of the Cistercian Abbey). At the American Cheese Society Festival of Cheese two weeks ago in Sacramento, I stood next to the Washed Rind table noshing on Oka so long that Keith Adams from Alemar Creamery in Minnesota told me I was going to get kicked out.
So you can imagine my extreme delight when Saxon Creamery in Cleveland, Wisconsin, retooled their Green Fields earlier this year into a true monastary-type cheese. First of all, don’t let the pinkish rind scare you. Those are just harmless pink yeast molds taking over, and you’re not going to eat the rind anyway. The paste is creamy, savory and surprisingly similar to Oka.
Green Fields has come a long way. For the past few years, it was merely a “meh” cheese, mild and spongy. But today, it actually fits its description of a “Semi-Soft, Washed Rind, Aromatic Monastery Style Cheese.”
The cheese is aged twice as long as Oka, at about 70 days. The affinage process begins with surface ripening and hand washing of the cheese for the first five weeks. Its flavor development is enhanced as the cheese wheels rotate through two aging rooms.
Master Cheesemaker Jeff Mattes is doing an outstanding job of retooling all the Saxon cheeses, improving the quality of each and every one. In fact, three of their cheeses won ribbons at the 2014 ACS, and Saxony won its class just this past week at the Wisconsin State Fair. Congratulations to the Saxon team on remastering Green Fields – this one is a treasure to savor.