The Big Cheese columnist Wendy Hunsinger recommends an excellent artisan brie-style cheese being made in northeast Ohio.
Excellent artisan brie or, more accurately, a brie style of cheese is being produced right here in Ohio.
Mayfield Road Farm in Ashtabula County is producing a dazzling cheese called Bloomsfield, which is growing in popularity.
The flavor is reminiscent of a good version of pasteurized French brie creamy and mushroomy, with that hint of scrambled egg flavor that I love in Fromage de Meaux, the quintessential pasteurized version of Brie de Meaux, one of the only true French bries.
The Bloomfield is an artisan farmstead cheese, meaning it's made from the farmer's own herd of animals (in this case, pasteurized cow's milk) in small, hand-crafted batches. The cheese-makers, Kevin and Susan Morris, are fifth-generation dairy farmers who recently decided to do more with their milk that just sell it to bigger dairies. They make a few other styles of cheeses, but this wheel really shines.
Pardon a slight deviation from the topic, but there are some rules of brie to consider.
The name brie is not protected by French law, yet authentic brie does have a designated areas of production: two towns in the Ile-de-France region, Meaux and Melun. This is all part of France's A.O.C. or appellation d'origine controlee a system that is in place for many cheeses and wines. It lays out various standards such as region of production, breeds of animals for specific recipes, the cheese-making process, and characteristics of a specific cheese.
So, without getting into a labored explanation of what constitutes true brie, just know that Bloomsfield might not have the proper certification, its taste and structure is as close to brie as possible.
It's amazing at room temperature with a warm, crusty baguette and a nice glass of Viognier or wheat beer. A little drizzle of honey or a dollop of fruit compote pair nicely with this cheese. With its fried-egg flavors, this cheese also makes for a fun breakfast sandwich we made up: an ounce of Bloomsfield, two slices of Niman Ranch peppered bacon (cooked to crispy, of course) and a little bit of tomato jam on a crossiant. C'est magnifique!
Whether you choose to call it brie, Bloomsfield has my vote as a haut fromage with a big Ohio charm.
Wendy Hunsinger is the specialty-food manager for Katzinger's in German Village.