- Mixed milk cheese is the ultimate in an exercise in complexity… and satisfaction. -
If you’re intimately familiar with cheese, then you’re no doubt versed in the differences between sheep, cow, and goat’s milk. Each kind of milk has its own individual personality traits, bringing unique contributions to the cheese world by way of flavor, texture, and aroma.
While we Disciples of the Curd know and love our single-milk cheeses, how familiar are you with those created in blending the milks of different animals? By combining different kinds of milk, cheesemakers open the door to a whole new world of texture and flavor – and it’s through this wardrobe you’ll find varieties that are infinitely complex in all the areas we relish when savoring cheese.
Below are a few of my favorite mixed-milk cheeses. Of course these are but a few that you’ll find at your local cheese shop; I’m hoping that you’ll use these as a jumping-off point to dig deeper into mixed milk cheese magic.
Cremont – Vermont Creamery
Cow & Goat Milk
A double-cream treat to be sure, Cremont is not your average soft, sweet, creamy cheese. Instead, its fatty cow’s milk sweetness is enlivened by the giddy kick of goat’s milk, making this cheese so may flavors at once without becoming a jumble. Cremont is salty at first, followed by a wash of tart, and finally sailing off into a sweet, grassy bon voyage. Texture-wise it’s smooth as silk, with a plush body and golden waves of flavor that make it one of my favorite cheeses to bring to a party, hands down. If I’m being totally honest, I have to admit that I’m not above sitting down with this beauty and eating an entire puck to myself, one bite at a time with a little spoon, with nothing between me and its pure, satisfying flavor.
Echo Mountain – Rogue Creamery
Cow & Goat Milk
Not as fatty as a lot of my favorite blues, Echo Mountain is a perfect example of the taste and textural magic cheesemakers can create when combining both cow and goat’s milk in a blue cheese. First you’ll catch the obligatory penicillium bite – which lingers politely without wearing out its welcome – and shortly thereafter a goaty “huzzah!” that leaves you instinctively reaching out for a second taste. Echo Mountain’s body is firm without sacrificing silkiness, in an interesting textural paradox that owes a debt of thanks to the fatty luxury of cow’s milk mixed with goat milk’s less lipid-prone traits. Firm and rich without even a hint of chalkiness, Echo Mountain is a blue to break out for your more discerning guests.
Hummingbird – Doe Run Creamery
Cow & Sheep’s Milk
A lovely little cheese that comes in the shape and size of a baby’s sandal, Hummingbird flits across your tongue at first, engaging in a sour, grassy little dance. A second later the deeper lactic notes follow up, not without a touch of barnyard-y funk that beckons to an autumn afternoon spent rolling around a hay loft. Finally, after a brief sojourn across the geography of your tongue, you’ll notice a cool sweetness reserved for those who are paying attention. Eating this cheese is an oozy bovine experience to behold, with gorgeous sheepy undertones to add complexity and verve. Definitely a winner.
Chebris – Onetik
Sheep and Goat Milk
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Basque cheeses, and Chebris is another that cements my burning adoration. This nutty-sweet blend of sheep and goat takes the best of both worlds and combines them into an incendiary duet. Sheep’s milk indulges in the first few lines with its blanket of fatty bliss and full, nutty personality, and soon after goat’s milk chimes in with a gentle tartness that raises in volume until it’s singing a clear, round note. Chebris’ capricious nature stays in check against a lovely wash of sweetness in the end, with a lingering grassy layer that inspires me to belt out a few cliches while skipping barefoot through a Basque meadow. Underneath its broad range, though, Chebris is a savory, briefly aged baritone, with visions of beef broth lingering as subtext for every lyrical bite.
Do have a favorite cheese that contains more than one kind of milk?