One of the things I love most about the cheese made in New York state is the diversity. We have cheesemakers all over this great state, from Long Island to the shores of the Finger Lakes, to the Hudson Valley that strive to bring unique and high-quality products to your cheese board and table.
Even though we have historically been a large producer of industrial cheese (think Polly-O), it is the smaller and artisanal production that is slowly but surely finding its way to the forefront.
Whenever I talk or write about New York cheeses, I am invariably asked who I think makes the best cheese. Even though I have mentioned this cheese many times in previous posts, and almost always recommend it when offering suggestions, I took a look and was surprised that I have never devoted a post to what I consider to be one of the best (if not the best) cheese made in New York.
Kunik from Nettle Meadow Farm is a gorgeous expression that encapsulates a sense of place into a cheese meant to be shared and experienced with family and friends.
Nettle Meadow is a 50-acre farm in upstate New York just south of the Adirondack Mountains that is committed to happy and healthy animals, natural ingredients and hand-crafted, artisan cheese.
An environment with happy and healthy animals is a primary tenet that most cheesemakers embrace and uphold in order to create the best cheese possible. Lorraine Lambiase and Sheila Flanagan, the owners and operators of the farm, even house an animal sanctuary where retired and geriatric animals can live out their years in relative comfort, health and happiness. Animal welfare at Nettle Meadow is not taken lightly…
Kunik is a triple cream that is made from 75% goat’s milk and 25% Jersey cow cream. The difference between a Triple Cream and your standard Double Cream or Brie lies primarily in the percentage of butterfat. A Triple Cream must have at least 75% butterfat in order to be classified as such. High-moisture cheeses like this have a great deal of water weight so even though 75% sounds high, this is relatively small if you compare similar portions of this to a hard cheese like cheddar or Gruyere.
The combination of goat’s milk with Jersey cow cream, in my mind, is what sets this cheese apart from others made in a similar style. The two components married together provide such a wonderful depth of flavor, that you would swear that you are eating something akin to freshly churned butter blended with cream cheese and a hint of crème fraiche.
The bloomy white rind is surprisingly delicate considering the density of the cheese contained within. The unctuous texture coats your tongue with a clean and bright flavor that continues to build with each bite. The finish is long, as is typical of this style, but the slight tang from the goat’s milk makes this all the more interesting.
Kunik is completely unique and unlike any other made in a similar style either here or abroad; and it is hand-made on a small farm in Warrensburg, New York. I would put it up against any other Triple that is made today. It is that good.
You can pair this with a crisp sparkling wine, an herbaceous sauvignon blanc, or even a rich and chocolaty stout or porter (think dessert).
If your local cheese shop does not carry this cheese for you to try, report them to the authorities.