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, with 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 love.
Vermont Creamery's Cremont
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; it's is salty at first, followed by a wash of tart, and finally sailing off on 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.
Rogue Creamery's Echo Mountain
Cow & Goat Milk
Though 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.
Doe Run Creamery's Hummingbird
Cow & Sheep's Milk
A lovely little cheese, 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, if you're paying close attention, you'll notice a cool finishing sweetness, with a sheepy undertone that adds complexity and verve—definitely a winner.
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 combines the best of both worlds in a harmonious duet. Sheep's milk indulges in the first few lines with its rich, nutty personality; 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. Underneath its broad range, though, Chebris is a savory, briefly aged baritone.
Do milked milk cheeses do you think are the best, far above the rest?
About the author: Stephanie Stiavetti is a writer and cookbook author in San Francisco. Stephanie's cookbook, Melt: the Art of Macaroni and Cheese, celebrates America's favorite dish by recreating it with small production, specialty cheeses. Her food blog, The Culinary Life, is a repository for all things comfort food related, from savory dinners to transcendental desserts.