Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Cheese Cave Faribault Dairy's Storefront Operation

I had talked with owner and Faribault Dairy cheesemaker Jeff Jirik several months back, as I had a vision of touring the cheese caves, deep under what I called the St Mary's Bluff as a kid. The yellow St Peter sandstone bluffs along the Straight River are a big part of the memories I have of the geology of my childhood hometown. My neighbor, Mr Swain had been the marketing director of Treasure Cave Blue Cheese in the 50's and 60's. Anyway, Jeff said "after 9/11 there are no tours near food supply chains", to avoid terrorist contamination and he said they would be opening a shop on historic Central Ave in the spring. He directed me to their marketing department and finally I talked with Laura, who demonstrates and allows us to taste the cheeses here, Blue, Gorgonzola and Fini, a sharp chedder they finish from Wisconsin. Jeff was the moderator of a 10 minute documentary of how the caves were started by the Fleckenstein brewing family and how Felix Fredrickson, a man known to my father, who was a strong Faribault history buff, came to purchase the caves to make cheese. The Blue Cheese, branded Amablu, is the premier, first blue in America and is similar to Roquefort, For European purists, the wikipedia summary under Blue Cheese: "In the European Union many blue cheeses such as Roquefort, Gorgonzola, and Stilton are, like wine, a protected designation of origin, meaning they can bear the name only if they have been made in a particular region in a certain country. Similarly, individual countries have protections of their own such as France's Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée and Italy's Denominazione di Origine Protetta." I especially enjoyed hearing about the special microbes that may be left from the brewing caves that just might make these cheeses more special. Ah the mystery of microscopic fungi! Peg Weaver would enjoy this....

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