Hillside Picnic | June 2020 curdbox

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After a spring that lasted for what felt like 3 years, summer has finally arrived. While the world continues to be in tumult, we hope that this month’s box allows for an escape—not just from your house or apartment—but from it all. Just for a little bit, lets hearken back to the simpler days of yore, when a carefree picnic was a fine way to spend an afternoon. This box’s theme, Hillside Picnic, doesn’t need much to turn into a leisurely day of cloud watching and cheese noshing.

The Hillside Picnic curdbox

Jasper Hill

We are extra excited about this month’s box, because we were able to get all three cheeses from Jasper Hill (normally we can only get one, if we’re lucky!) The Jasper Hill Creamery is where founding brothers Andy and Mateo Kehler make their original (and highly lauded) cheeses from their own Ayrshire cows. Ayrshires make what is known as “cheesemaker’s milk” because it is naturally partially homogenized, which makes it easier to work with, and it also has a good percentage of fat and protein, allowing for rich and interesting cheeses.

In addition to their own creamery, Jasper Hill also has cheese caves, called The Cellars, where they take in cheeses from other local creameries to age—this cheese aging process is called affinage, and the cheese agers are the affineurs. The Cellars allows local small-scale farms and creameries to make their own aged cheeses, thus further expanding the number of artisanal cheeses coming out of the New England region. This month, two of the cheeses we have are Jasper Hill originals, one is made by a small NH creamery and aged at the Cellars, and all three are absolutely lights out. 

Moses Sleeper

To start we have Moses Sleeper. This is a bloomy cheese and is basically America’s answer to French Brie. Made with pasteurized cow’s milk and aged for 6-12 weeks, Moses Sleeper is approachable and sure to be a crowder pleaser, but still sophisticated enough to have won gold at the 2016 World Cheese Championships. It has a thin (edible) rind and a milky paste, with notes of crème fraîche, toasted nuts, and even cauliflower (in the best possible way). All these flavors ride on an undercurrent of earthy savoriness that would play beautifully with the saucisson sec in this month’s box. Make sure to let it come to room temperature—this not only lets the flavors bloom, but also lets the cheese reach its full soft and gooey glory. (Or, do a taste test—leave a small slice in the fridge and compare it to the room temp version.) Oh, and what’s up with the name, you ask? Moses Sleeper was a Revolutionary War scout who was killed in Greensboro, the town where Jasper Hill is located, defending none other than Bayley Hazen Road (psssst, see the next cheese). But that was then, and this is now! No longer just a historical figure, Moses Sleeper has been memorialized in one of our nation’s greatest original cheeses. 

Moses Sleeper by Jasper Hills Creamery with Saucisson Sec aux Herbes de Provence by Les Trois Petits Cochons

Bayley Hazen

It’s a hard act to follow, but Bayley Hazen is up for the job.  Made from raw milk and aged 3-4 months, this is another Jasper Hill original, and you better believe that this blue’s got a posse. Often mentioned in tandem with its “loyal following”, Bayley Hazen is a supremely well-balanced cheese; its restrained pepperiness making way for notes of cream, anise, and toasted nuts—try it with the pistachios to bring out this flavor. The formed rounds are washed in salt, so the cheese is saltier near the rind and milder near the center. The texture is slightly drier than most blues, but still dense and positively fudgy. We (and the loyal fans) are not the only ones who go bonkers for Bayley—it’s also racked up a slew of national and international awards, and in 2014 it beat out 2,600 other cheeses for the title of World’s Best Unpasteurized Cheese. And, for one more dollop of US history: Bayley Hazen Road was commissioned by George Washington and allowed settlers to, uh, settle in Greensboro, VT, paving the way for Jasper Hill to one day reign supreme in American artisanal cheese making.

Bayley Hazen by Jasper Hills Creamery and Sea Salt + Pepper Pistachios by the Gilded Nut Snack Co.


To cap off this wondrous trio of cheese, we have Landaff out of Landaff, NH, a semi-firm natural rind cheese that is made by Doug and Deb Erb at Landaff Creamery with raw milk and aged for 4-6 months at The Cellars. Declining milk prices led the Erbs to decide to turn their milk operation into a cheesemaking operation, and so Doug went to Somerset to study under Jemima Cordle and Chris Duckett, who make a traditional Welsh farmstead cheese called Caerphilly (pronounced “carefully”), known colloquially as “the crumblies”. The apple doesn’t fall from the tree, as Landaff, too, crumbles straight into highly snackable morsels that are bright and grassy, with a slight buttermilk tang (note: it would also go great with apples). In contrast to the mild paste, the rind brings a sharper flavor of roasted peanuts. This cheese is easy to love and would be the perfect vessel for a spoonful of the Honey Balsamic mustard. For one final dash of history: Doug and Deb chose a Welsh cheese because their town’s namesake was from a Welsh Bishop (Bishop of Llandaff, Wales, chaplain to England’s King George III).

Landaff made by Landaff Creamery and aged at The Cellars at Jasper Hill with Honey Balsamic Dijon by Edmond Fallot

Sea Salt + Pepper Pistachios from The Gilded Nut Snack Co.

To pair this month, we have Sea Salt and Pepper Pistachios from the Gilded Nut Snack Company. These beauts are of the jumbo pistachio variety (like a normal pistachio, but more of it), sourced from small-scale California farmers. Fun fact: did you know that if you let pistachios ripen on the tree, their shells will open naturally? So any time you are breaking your nails trying to pry open a pistachio shell, know that it wasn’t fully ripe (and it definitely wasn’t a Gilded Nut pistachio). Because these small-scale farmers are focused on quality instead of scale, they can take their time, let the pistachios fully ripen, and handle each nut with care. As a result, they don’t need anything but a little salt and pepper to shine. Try these pistachios with all three of the cheeses—in addition to a pleasing crunch, you’ll see how it brings out the nutty flavors in the cheeses.

Honey Balsamic Dijon from Edmond Fallot

If you thought you’d had a proper Honey Balsamic Dijon before this, well, let’s just say, welcome to enlightenment. Edmond Fallot has been a family-owned moutarderie in the Burgundy region of France since 1840, and they still stone-grind their mustards in the traditional fashion. The ground mustard seeds are then mixed with honey and real Modena balsamic into this delectable condiment. The mustard leads with the sweet taste of honey, before giving way to the typical mustard kick and rounded out by the Balsamic’s mellow tartness. These tastes—sweet, spicy, sour—evolve and fold over each other with every bite, and will interplay beautifully with our three cheeses for the month.

Saucisson Sec aux herbes de Provence from Les Trois Petits Cochons

Our last pairing is a saucisson sec aux herbes de Provence (translation: dried sausage with herbs from Provence) from Les Trois Petits Cochons, or Three Little Pigs. You may be forgiven for thinking that this company is from France, but they’re actually a small outfit out of Brooklyn, known for their artisanal pâtés, sausages, and other French specialties. This particular recipe comes from the Pyrenees Mountains, and includes 11 different herbs—rosemary, parsley, fennel, savory, thyme, basil, marjoram, dried lavender, oregano, tarragon, and bay leaf—can you taste them all? Savoring this saucisson sec is sort of like snacking while sauntering through a sumptuous Provençal herb garden. Try a slice with all of our cheeses and see how the herbal notes complement the cheeses’ grassiness, while the saucisson’s umami turns up the volume. As with our cheeses, this pairing also tastes best when first brought to room temperature.

Well, now you have the run down on three cheeses and three pairings, as well as some little-known Revolutionary history and some French words to keep in your back pocket. Frankly, if you’ve even made it here, you definitely deserve a picnic. So go on and take this box outside, grab a sunny spot, and enjoy!


Did you take some photos while enjoying this box that you were thinking of adding to Instagram? Please tag us @curdbox, along with our cheese and pairing partners @jasperhillfarm, @3pigspate, @gildednut, and @moutardesfallot. We love to see our cheese lovers enjoying their boxes!

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