Vermont's hills are alive with the sound of "Oma!" Brothers Sebastian and Dan Von Trapp (yes, they are related to those Von Trapps) have just released Oma, an amazing new cheese from the Mad River Valley in Vermont.
A washed-rind raw cow's milk cheese, Oma's silky texture (soft and supple, but not runny) is perhaps its most unique feature. But its taste delivers too. The cheese is earthy, barnyardy, and buttery, and the raw milk makes for a complexity of flavor absent in most American cheeses of its ilk.
"Oma" is German for "grandmother," and the cheese is named after Sebastian and Dan's Oma, Erica Von Trapp, who started the family farm 50 years ago. The farm has a herd of grass-fed, mixed-breed cows (the majority are Jersey), and is located in a small town called Waitsfield (population 1,659) about 40 miles southeast of Burlington. Despite its small size, however, Waitsfield has become somewhat of a birthing ground for artisan foods—Green Mountain Coffee Roasters was started there almost 30 years ago.
Before starting Von Trapp Farmstead, Sebastian learned his craft by training with a number of artisan cheesemakers in England, as well as brothers Andy and Mateo Kehler of Jasper Hill Creamery fame. In fact, the two sets of brothers have formed a partnership around this cheese. The Von Trapps sell their young cheeses to the Kehlers, who age it in enormous new aging caves at the Cellars at Jasper Hill. The cheese is then distributed along with Jasper Hill's, which means that the Von Trapp's products should be widely available sometime soon.
In the meantime, the only place I know to find it (other than the actual farm) is at New York City's Murray's Cheese. The brothers also have another product currently under development: a raw-milk tomme-style, natural rind cheese. Keep an eye out! If Oma is any indication, this cheese is also bound to be something special.
About the author: Jamie Forrest publishes Curdnerds.com from his apartment in Brooklyn, New York, where he lives with his wife, his two children, and his cheese.