Cheese of the Week: Fiscalini Farmstead Bandage Wrapped Cheddar

Sitting pretty, one of the best you can find of America's favorite cheese, cheddar.

On Sunday, I had the Cooking Channel on in the background as I did some computer work when I saw from the corner of my eye the largest sheep I had ever seen.  And it was speaking English!

Of course this was no sheep, but rather one Jason Sobocinski, a cheesemonger and chef, dressed as a sheep as he toured Old Chatham Sheepherding Company (NY,) for his new show, The Big Cheese.

It became clear as I watched Jason’s genuine childlike enthusiasm for cheesemaking unfold, that he is 100 percent serious about cheese and the people and animals responsible for it.

Of course, it didn’t do much for my productivity that evening, but I did stick around towards the end of the episode to catch his trip to Fiscalini Farmstead in Modesto, CA, and learn about master cheesemaker Marino Gonzalez’s passion for clothbound cheddar, or Bandage Wrapped Cheddar.  It’s made in the British tradition, even winning Best Extra Mature Traditional Cheddar in the World at the 2007 World Cheese Awards in London.  Fiscalini’s portfolio of aged cheeses are made by hand, with every step occurring on-property, from milk from their own cows, to cheddaring – or the process by which the curds are cut and stacked and re-stacked to build layers of flavor – to aging in their special aging rooms.  That in and of itself makes their operation sufficiently sustainable compared to most — yet they even go further to produce electricity running their entire farm with an anaerobic digester, converting cow manure and other waste products to methane as a fuel.

It was a surprise, but made a lot of sense, when I saw at dinner preshift yesterday that this week’s Cheese of the Week was Fiscalini’s Bandage Wrapped Cheddar.  Line cook Max has scored again with a great chutney pairing, this time a fig mostarda.  Enjoy it before it’s all gone!

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