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Food and Drink

Making sweet harmony

Cheeses, beers from von Trapp family spotlighted at Brattleboro tasting

BRATTLEBORO—Joe Green, cheesemonger at Grafton Village Cheese, recently hosted an evening of cheese and beer tasting at the company’s Linden Street location.

Although the cheese and beer are made in two separate locations and are different entities, the common thread is familial: both are from the von Trapp family.

Yes, those von Trapps.

Cheesemaker Sebastian von Trapp said in an email to The Commons, “My grandfather Werner was the youngest boy in Sound of Music, they changed his name to Kurt.”

He said the brewery, located in the family lodge, is owned by his second cousins.

Green sampled little cups of von Trapp Family Brewing beer and creative hors d’oeuvres made of von Trapp Farmstead cheeses and locally-produced jams.

To add to the evening’s festivities, Green wore what he called his “most German-looking hat,” and he programmed the store’s PA system to play the soundtrack to the Sound of Music.

Sebastian von Trapp grew up on his family’s Waitsfield farm, and after learning to make cheese with such notables as Jasper Hill, a few producers who work with London’s Neal’s Yard Dairy, and a variety of other Vermont and French cheese experts, he began making certified-organic cheese from his family’s herd of 50 cows.

Their original product, Oma, is an unpasteurized washed-rind tomme similar in style and appearance to Reblochon.

Gently pungent, earthy flavors are balanced by modest sweetness from the rich milk. The texture is semi-soft and pudgy. Oma, named in honor of Sebastian’s grandmother, is aged 60-90 days at The Cellars at Jasper Hill in Greensboro.

Mt. Alice, named for the peak southeast of the dairy farm, is the von Trapp answer to Camembert. Buttery and milky with balanced salinity, it has the slightest hint of cave on the finish. The semi-soft paste gets oozy as it hits room temperature, which is exactly what you want from a bloomy-rind cheese.

One of the newer von Trapp cheeses is Savage, named for Samuel S. Savage, who settled the family’s farm two centuries before they arrived there. An unpasteurized Alpine-type wheel, Savage is semi-firm with a melting mouthfeel and a good harmony between sweet and nutty flavors with gentle acidity appropriate for the style of cheese.

Mad River Blue is von Trapp Farmstead’s other new arrival, and it is one of the punchier domestic blues out there. Fans of Spanish Valdéon will appreciate its spicy, earthy, assertive qualities, slightly tempered by a smooth texture and a hint of sweetness. The unpasteurized, natural-rinded cheese is aged for approximately three months.

In addition to Grafton Village Cheese’s retail shop, von Trapp Farmstead cheese can be found at many Vermont cooperative grocery stores, and at the Burlington, Waitsfield, and Stowe Farmer’s Markets.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #313 (Wednesday, July 8, 2015). This story appeared on page C4.

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