Willi Schmid has only had his own dairy since 2006, but in such a short amount of time has become an extremely well known cheese maker in Switzerland.
Every morning before making any one of his two-dozen cheeses, he tastes the raw milk to determine which one it will be best in. Mr. Schmid is passionate about using only raw milk that he collects personally from local dairy farmers. He also allows the cheeses he creates to age in his cellar until they are ready to send out to affineurs and vendors such as Master Fromager Rolf Beeler. The result of his uncompromising dedication to quality is that Willi Schmid’s cheeses are some of the best in Switzerland.
Founded in 1998 by Caroline Hostettler, Quality Cheese is the sole importer to the U.S. of cheeses that Master Fromager Rolf Beeler has made famous in Switzerland. Caroline, a native of Switzerland, became friends with Rolf before she emigrated to the U.S. At the time, Beeler joked that she should sell his cheese in America; little realizing that this would become a reality.
Today, Hostettler’s business has grown considerably. Although the Quality Cheese range has expanded to include other affineurs and producers, Caroline still focuses only on carefully selected cheeses produced in Switzerland. She still visits Switzerland regularly to make her selections.
Jersey Blue is a raw Jersey cow’s milk blue cheese in the unique shape of a dome. Due to an initial aging in a cellar, the cheese has a slightly musty aroma at first, but once cut into it is clean and slightly tangy.
Jersey Blue has a rich texture that dissipates in the mouth. The blue veining that seems to emanate like bolts of lightning from the top and sides of the rind have an assertiveness to them and provide contrast to the nutty flavor of the pale yellow paste. This type of veining is a result of Willi hand ladling the curds into their molds. If done in a certain way, this process creates pockets in the cheese where the blue mold develops.
Cheeses are not released for sale until the blue mold has developed throughout the paste and also broken through the surface of the cheese and covered it completely. This usually takes between 9-10 weeks. As Willi says, “I wait for the cheese, not the cheese for me.”
The cheese is best paired with white wines such as Gewurztraminer and Riesling. For a red wine, try Brunello, or try a dessert wine such as Vin Santo. Recommended accompaniments include Birnbrot, a pear bread from the same region of Switzerland as Jersey Blau. This cheese can be used as a cooking cheese as well since it melts like cream.