I recently had the great fortune to visit with Stan Biasini and his family at Mt. Mansfield Creamery in Morristown, Vermont. I arrived bright and early, just as Stan was pooling the milk from the morning milking into a heating vat to begin making his cheese: Inspiration. Here at the shop, we only began carrying Inspiration this year – it is a washed-rind cow milk cheese based on a Corsican recipe and has quickly become a staff favorite.
Apparently, we are not alone in our admiration of Inspiration. Although Stan has been making the cheese for only three years now, he has received some serious critical acclaim. Last year, for instance, it was awarded 2nd place in its category at the American Cheese Society competition.
Stan says that he largely owes his success to the fact that his wife, Debora, single-handedly milks their small herd of Brown Swiss and Holstein cows each morning, with the milk going directly to the creamery for cheese production. Indeed, cheesemaking is a family affair at Mt. Mansfield. The morning I visited, we were joined by Stan’s young daughter Adele who had the day off from school and chose to help her dad make cheese rather than go skiing with her brother on the nearby slopes. On the wall of the creamery hangs a poster project Adele made a few years ago for school, documenting each step in the cheesemaking process. I had come looking for small-family, farmstead production and, clearly, this was it.
As a relatively new cheesemonger here at the shop, this was my first opportunity to participate in the cheesemaking process. Cheesemaking is part scientific calculation and part hygiene assurance. Calibrated instruments rest neatly beside the stainless steel vat and a chart on the wall records specific times at which the cultures and rennet were added and an estimate of when it would be time to cut the curds. The cheesemaking room sparkles and, in between each step in the process, Stan was constantly cleaning. Nevertheless, Stan views cheesemaking as a relaxed process. “I am not a scientist,” he said with a smile on his face. “I make cheese to have fun.” Spending the day with Stan, I had a great deal of fun myself.
Inspiration has a wonderful golden, unctuous paste, with a well-balanced profile of sweetness, bitterness and funk. It pairs well with sweet and velvety Belgian beers, notably Saison Dupont and Ommegang Rare Vos. Keep an eye out in the upcoming months for wheels of Inspiration with a special Formaggio Kitchen touch!
Brad Jones is a cheesemonger at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge and is currently studying for a masters in the Gastronomy program at Boston University.