It's camping season, a time some look forward to all year long. Not us, so much; our favorite things—showers, soap, City Paper, not bugs, and cheese shops—are hard to find in the great outdoors. But we can still think fondly on the celestial expanse above our tent and the smell of bonfires and damp earth from the otherwise-intolerable Girl Scout camp-outs of our youth. Whether you're an indoor human like ourselves or currently packing for your next woodland excursion, there's a cheese for that.
Two cheeses, actually. When we make our biweekly cheese trips, we often pick up a few different cheeses, but usually one will prove more exciting than the other. This week, however, we find ourselves unable to share just one of our two selections from Milk and Honey Market in Mount Vernon. Its cheese table may be limited, but whoever curates the selection knows good cheese. We were particularly drawn to this attractive pair: Rogue River Smokey Blue ($35.99 per pound) and Bucherondin ($14.99 per pound).
Made with raw cow's milk from a sustainable farm in Oregon, Smokey Blue is cold-smoked with hazelnut shells. Rogue River's cheeses are major cheese award-winners, so they tend to be expensive, though a small wedge is worth the price. With a smooth and just slightly crumbly texture, the combination of the blue-cheese tang and the distinctive but not at all overpowering smoky flavor makes for a flavor reminiscent of a crackling campfire. Most smoked cheeses taste artificial, like those weird bacon-flavored potato chips, but this Rogue River tastes like it was summoned from flames. Strong and earthy, this is basically the lumbersexual of blue cheese.
It just so happens that "bûcheron"—the classic French chevre closely related to Bucherondin—is French for "lumberjack." The name refers to the log shape Bûcheron and its varieties take. The logs are typically sold in slices, so we think of the 1-inch-thick round we purchased from Milk and Honey as a short tree stump. Like the interior of a trunk, Bucherondin contains rings developed through age: a dense, snow-white center and an ultra gooey halo encased in a bloomy, light beige rind, like a young birch. In this way it's similar to Humbolt Fog, though Bucherondin is less cheesecakelike and more savory and mushroomy and contains a thicker and gooier ring around the flaky core—which is less tangy than most chevres, but still offers a notable contrast to the surrounding paste.