Endearingly referred to as "a pudgy little washed-rind" and named after Vermont's beautiful Lake Willoughby, this cheese was first made at Ploughgate Creamery. Production of this cheese stopped after a fire burned the creamery and Jasper Hill, naturally, continued to produce and develop it.
This cheese has a succulent and buttery interior texture which makes for a delicious balance to it's earthly peat, onion and roast beef aromas. On the inside it is soft and sticky becoming creamier with increased ooziness as it ripens. The rind is lightly washed in the cellars during affinage. However, it does not becomes totally oozey or soupy. Willoughby is aged in the Jasper Hill Cellars for 3-6 weeks and released basically when it is ready. It reaches its peak at about 9 weeks but may still be consumed upto about 12 weeks after production. This cheese does become very ammoniated when it is overripe. When you get strong ammonia aromas and flavors, throw it out.
Jasper Hill does a really good job at labeling their cheeses with production dates for consumers to use as a guide for when to eat. Cheese continues to ripen (mature) as it gets older. This means the flavors and aromas will become more pronounced, but it will not make you sick. Using expiration dates on the label from the sellers as a guide for when to consume is not always recommended. Always follow the producers guidelines for cheese, whenever it is provided.
WHAT GOES WITH MY CHEESE
I love serving Willoughby with charcuterie but especially the Piccante Prosciutto from La Quercia. It is covered with fennel, red chilli and sea salt during it's curing stage. This lends the cheese a spice and flavor kick that complements it's earthly qualities beautifully.
In general I prefer to serve washed rind cheeses with savory foods. I find their "funk" works especially well with briney, pickled and salty foods like olives, pickled veggies and cured meats. If you can't find the La Quercia prosciutto, serve with a dry spicy salami and cornichons.
The most natural and perfect drink to serve with Willoughby is a funky Saison (farmhouse ale). If you can get your hands on Anna from Hills Farmstead, it is the absolute most heavenly match. This beer is made about 1 mile up the road from the Jasper Hill Creameries in Greensboro, Vermont. However, any Saison should work.
If beer isn't your thing and you prefer wine, try Willoughby with an off-dry Riesling from Alsace, France. The wine's fruit minerality and the cheese's earthy richness contrast and complement each other in all the right places.
You should be able to find Willoughby at most Whole Foods Markets throughout the country. However, any good cheese counter and cheesemonger should be able to source it. You can always visit the Jasper Hill website and order it directly from them. You should check out the Jasper Hill website for information on what they do. If you don't know them, get to know them, NOW! They are doing some great cheese work in Vermont.
Cheese name: Willoughby
Producer: Jasper Hill Creamery and Cellars
Where: Greensboro, Vermont
Cheese category: soft washed rind
Milk: pasteurized cow's milk