Sunday, March 21, 2010

Wine and Cheese - Lazy Lady Fil-A-Buster and Pinot Blanc

Lazy Lady Farm in Vermont is Laini Fondiller's life's work. Located in Westfield Vermont, not far from the Canadian Border, Fondiller's farm is off-the-grid. Yes, that means that the electricity that is used on the farm is generated by solar panel and wind generators. Fondiller does mostly everything herself, from milking to washing the rinds. Her's is an interesting story, and NY Times Magazine recently ran a story on her.

That and $2.25 gets you a ride on the subway. Call me cynical, if you like, but none of that makes any difference to me if Lazy lady cheeses don't taste good. I respect and admire her commitment to minimal impact farming, and that she generates her own power and feeds the byproducts of her cheese-making to raise pigs - those are great things to do, things to aspire to. But I still want the cheese to taste good if I'm going to buy it.

The good news is that the cheeses taste great. The one's I've had, anyway. My favorite so far is probably the deliciously creamy Lady in Blue, a blue cheese that is more fruity and creamy than salty. The other day I saw a Lazy Lady cheese that I'd not seen before (Fondiller's cheeses are seasonal, of course, as is cow and goat milk in Vermont), something called Fil-A-Buster. I figured it would be a fitting cheese to eat this weekend as the ladies and gents in Warsh-ington had it out over the health care bill.

Fil-A-Buster is a raw cow's milk washed rind cheese that's available from January through May. It is similar to a legendary cheese from the Jura called Vacherin Mont D'Or, in that the cheese wheel is bound with a resiny and aromatic strip of spruce bark. But Fil-A-Buster must be aged for at least 60 days, as we are complete prudes about the bacteria in raw milk over here. Vacherin is made in smaller wheels and is a runny gooey mess of deliciousness.

Fil-A-Buster is a wonderful cheese that needs to be serves at room temperature in order to reveal its full flavor. Please don't eat around the rind if you try this cheese - the rind makes the whole thing so special. The creamy texture becomes pleasantly grainy with the rind, and the clean milky flavors take on nutty tones, particularly the somewhat bitter skins of fresh walnuts. The resiny spruce aroma lingers after swallowing.

The spruce bark takes on quite a gnarly appearance after 2 months in a cheese cave.

We ate this cheese with the 2007 Laurent Barth Alsace Pinot Blanc, $14, Louis/Dressner Selections. This is an excellent wine, and a great value at this price. It is a thing of liquid rock - the aromas are wet rock and limestone and more rock. Almost painful in its piercing mineral focus, but with an hour it relaxes a bit and shows a gentle undercurrent of honey and something like eucalyptus. It's well balanced and lively, and honestly has nothing to do with those round and blowsy Pinot Blanc wines that are common. It seems to be much more about place than about Pinot Blanc, which I think is a good thing. Although it doesn't have the depth and complexity of Dirler's Pinot Blanc, it's also less than half the price.

That said, I wish that I had opened a bottle of Jura wine with this cheese, something made in the intentionally oxidized style. The rich nutty character of a wine like that would have been an even better partner for this cheese. The Barth Pinot Blanc is great, but might be a better match for younger fresher cheeses, or perhaps with something like weisswurst and sauerkraut.


Anonymous said...

Where do you get these great cheeses you're always talking about?

Brooklynguy said...

I am a member of the Park Slope Food Coop in Brooklyn, a much maligned, but great grocery store. Their cheese selection is world class. Perhaps not everything is stored properly, and things are cut in advance, but if you shop carefully you;re doing well over there.

Kevin Sipe said...

It is good to hear you like Barth's Pinot Blanc. I had tried his Silvaner and found its oily texture and tequila finish less than attractive. But, it was clearly well made and terroir driven. I will have to keep an eye out for his other offerings.

kosher said...

thanks for sharing wine and cheese are perfect match for cold winter of December.