While I am kind of a whiner in real life, I try to keep it off my blog. I know no one wants to read that. Still, the Cheesemaking day at Roth Kase deserves a little whining.
I often work at 7 AM so I don’t mind getting up early. We had to get up at 4:30 to go make cheese at Roth Kase. That would not have been a very big deal except that we were on Wisconsin time so to us it was really 2:30 in the morning. I was so obviously falling asleep on the cheese tour that I became the designation person of ridicule for the entire day. Oh yeah, now I remember why I hated school.
I blanked when asked a question so I had to stand in a cheese corner and write “We leave the vat alone while we wait for the proper PH level and for the curds to knit together,” 100 times.
We were supposed to “make cheese” and we did… kinda.* We were a large (exhausted) group doing the work of one person so it wasn’t like we were breaking sweats. We did cheesemaker things though. We cut curd, we took breaks*, we flipped havartis. It was a good day.
After making cheese we got to go down to the aging areas. We got to rub paprika into the Gran Queso and – best of all – smear bacteria into their gruyere. It’s always amusing to be in a factory “working” while the real workers get to take it easy and mock from the sidelines. If I did nothing else, at least I made one day easier for a cheese factory worker.
Roth Kase gruyere-style cheeses are really something to be proud of. Except for maybe the Pleasant Ridge Reserve (which has only a fraction of the production of Roth Kase) no one widely distributes an American cheese with a Gruyere flavor profile. We got to taste their 15 month-aged cheese and it really is everything you want in a Swiss-style Gruyere: nutty, sweet, oniony, and just a touch of pungency.
I would have taken a photo of their wall of aging gruyeres but they requested no photos for technology security reasons.*** So, instead of floor-to-ceiling cheese, here’s a picture of the hand towel in the Roth Kase bathroom:
I didn’t take my camera in at all because I didn’t want to drop it in a cheese vat while I “worked” but I should have more pictures soon.
*Don’t worry cheese consumers, the have a couple of old vats segregated from the rest of the cheese equipment for people like us. ( Oh, here they are!) You might eat our cheese, but only if it worked out.
**excuse me, we didn’t take breaks, we waited for the proper PH level and for the curds to knit.
***I couldn’t give you just a hand towel pic, so here’s a picture of Gruyere de Savoie in a similar aging warehouse in France. The French cheese is about 4 times bigger than the Roth Kase gruyere.