Until Connecticut-based Mystic Cheese Company released Sea Change, finding a stracchino-style cheese with an external blue rind was about as easy as finding pirate’s treasure. But here it is, in all of its aquamarine-splashed glory.
Mystic Cheese was born in 2013 as a collaboration between Brian Civitello, who has made cheeses of all styles across the United States and Italy, and cheesemonger Jason Sobocinski, owner of Caseus Fromagerie & Bistro in New Haven, Connecticut. Both have irrepressible enthusiasm for their work and the future of the dairy and cheese industries, as well as for their home state.
The company is known for pioneering the use of “cheese pods,” affordable, transportable cheesemaking facilities built into refurbished shipping containers. Recently Mystic Cheese has also opened a brick-and-mortar retail shop in Groton, Connecticut, one of the two towns in which the village of mystic is located.
In 2017 the company spruced up its stracchino-style Sea Change by giving it a blue rind. To produce the cheese, makers add a homemade mild yogurt culture to pasteurized milk and wait until its pH drops to a desired level of souring. After firming up, the curd is broken down into one-inch cubes, which are mixed gently before being formed into square molds. The fermentation and turning of the squares continues in a warm room—“cue the C+C music factory,” Civitello says—for eight hours. Once cooled and dry salted, they’re ready to be sprayed with a cocktail of yeasts that set the stage for the blue. (Makers don’t add any blue spores because the ripening room contains other blue cheeses whose molds spread to Sea Change). The squares then age in a shipping pod aging room for three weeks.
The end result has a mesmerizing rind full of layered blue and white molds, juxtaposed with a dense, gooey, creamy paste. Smelling salty and damp like a cave on a jetty, it yields notes of hops and mushroom confit on the palate.
Co-founder Jason Sobocinski offers a pairing tip: “I snacked on some Sea Change last night on a cocoa biscuit with some strawberry jam,” he says, “and it made the world right for a few moments.”