Pleasant Ridge Extra Aged Reserve is a quality raw cow's milk cheese.
With autumn upon us, my thoughts turn to a farmstead cheese produced at Uplands' Cheese Co., which is owned and run by two neighboring farms in Dodgeville, Wis.
Pleasant Ridge Extra Aged Reserve is one of Uplands most vaunted cheeses, available until it runs out in the fall. The cheese is the aged version of Uplands' flagship cheese, Pleasant Ridge, which is a raw milk cow's cheese aged up to four months, while the Extra Aged is aged anywhere from nine to 14 months.
The younger version is a great cheese full of fruity and herbal nuances that change with the milking seasons, as the grasses changes from spring to summer. The Extra Aged has a harder interior and its flavors are even more complex then its younger sibling's, with a defined olive and nuttiness intertwined with the initial fruit and herbs. Based upon Swiss and French Alpine cheeses in its recipe, the Extra Aged has comparatively impressed me every time I eat it alongside any of its predecessors.
Let's turn to its accolades. It won the American Cheese Society's Best of Show, the third time in just 10 years of production. It is an impressive distinction, as there are hundreds of entries from the U.S. and Canada.
One side note that intrigues me about the Uplands' cows is that they are a cross-bred line. They started out with pure breeds, but over time they are cross-bred many different times. Call them "mutts" if you will, but it seems this melting pot of cows puts the American spirit into cheese and a special American "flavor" into an old European institution.
Wendy Hunsinger is the specialty-food manager for Katzinger's in German Village.