On New Years Eve I had the pleasure of hosting a sparkling wine and cheese pairing including some of my favorite pairings and a few special treats to jazz up this last class of the season held aboard the vintage motor yacht Manhattan. Participants went crazy over a unique sheep cheese created for the holiday season by the affinuers at Murray’s, Hudson Flower.
So just what is an affinuer? Affinage is a French word that comes from the French verb Affiner that comes from the Latin “ad finis”, meaning “towards the limit”. An Affineur is a bit like a nanny, carefully nurturing and caring for the precious offspring of the cheesemaker till it reaches maturity. There are common practices carried out for most cheese types including temperature and humidity control, appropriate aging time, mold strains used, rack or shelving used and packaging chosen for sale upon completion. Sometimes washing or coating the rinds are practiced to create a unique flavor or add a different spin on a traditional cheese. Hudson flower, created in the cellars of Murray’s cheese, is a delicious example of the difference that a creative affinuer can impart on the flavor of a carefully ripened cheese.
Hudson Flower starts out as a young sheep cheese hailing from Old Chatham Sheepherding Company in Chatham, NY. The rinds are coated in a secret blend of rosemary, lemon thyme, marjoram, elderberries and hop flowers. This comforting blanket of herbs imparts floral and fresh citrus notes to the creamy smooth paste of this fascinating, delicious cheese. Clearly a winner in the art of cheese ripening techniques! I hope to see it offered not just for the holiday season but year round.
Cremant de Bourgogne, Jura Chardonnay, Saison Ale, lighter floral reds or for breakfast with a cup of Chamomile tea!