American innovation and the ash-ripening traditions of the Loire Valley come together for Bone Char Square, a surface-ripened cheese coated with a fine layer of pig and lamb bone ash. This unique cheese that was once only available at New York’s famed Blue Hill Stone Barns, but lucky for us, you can now find it at Saxelby Cheese.
When I first heard about Bone Char Square, I immediately thought, let’s set the mood and light some candles, put on a Slayer record, and worship the nose-to-tail movement! Putting aside any perceived morbidity about animal bone ash, this cheese was born out of Chef Dan Barber and his team’s approach to cooking that encourages sustainability by wasting nothing.
According to Saxelby Cheese, Blue Hill is on a “crusade to cook the most delicious food imaginable using the most sustainable means of farming, production, and harvest possible”. Bone Char Square is a collaboration of the expert affineurs at Crown Finish Caves, the cheesemakers at Old Chatham Sheepherding Company, and Saxelby Cheesemongers, who are currently the only retailer to offer Bone Char Square in its limited quantities.
This mixed-milk beauty is made from pasteurized cow’s and goat’s milk, dusted with the carbonized, eco-friendly bone ash from Blue Hill’s kitchen. It’s then placed in a special séchoir or drying fridge to prime the surface molds, and matured for three weeks at Crown Finish Caves in Brooklyn.
The paste of Bone Char Square is dense with a gentle tang and sweet creaminess that exhibits notes of salted lemon, green peppercorn, and sunflower seed. The experience is as delightful as any ash-rind cheese enthusiast would hope, with a satisfyingly savory fresh river rock minerality and earthiness.
If you venture to Blue Hill and Saxelby Cheesemongers to try Bone Char Square, I recommend pairing it with Provence rosé, seeded rustic crackers, Quince and Apple raspberry rose preserves, crisp fruit, and most importantly, an open mind and palate!