Haystack Mountain's cheesy lovefest with Boulder County
The classic chevre soon gave way to a panoply of goat cheese varieties, flavors and rinds, like the mild and sweet Chile Jack (a recent winner of best flavored Jack Style at the American Cheese Society awards, as Scaggs is quick to mention) or the upcoming Wall Street Gold, a large-format Alpine-style named after the Wall Street Mine in Fourmile Canyon. Aging a full year in Haystack's carefully controlled aging rooms, these wheels will only start to roll onto store shelves this summer.
Yet it's another upcoming cheese that truly epitomizes Haystack Mountain's status in the Boulder County community. Much like the celebrated Oatmeal Stout cheese made with Breckenridge Brewery beer, A Cheese Named Sue is a raw milk cheese washed with Oskar Blues' G'Knight Imperial Red, brewed practically down the road from the Haystack creamery in Longmont. But Haystack's relationship with the brewery goes beyond a simple cheese wash. G'Knight is named for Gordon Knight, the helicopter pilot who lost his life in 2002 trying to drop water on a fire near Lyons. In a fascinating coincidence, Knight's widow, Sue, had worked on the Haystack Farm for a while before its closing; A Cheese Named Sue is a tribute to Sue and to her husband's spirit.
Matt Twing A hearty wheel of Wall Street Gold.
"When I make that cheese... I feel like Mr. Knight is watching me. Like, 'You better make that cheese right!'" Chang laughs. "It's a lot of pressure."
The jovial face of the Haystack brand, Scaggs can hardly contain himself when talking about this next step in local synergy: "This is a Boulder County lovefest like you couldn't imagine!" The relationship goes both ways, says Louis Thomas, chef de cuisine at Longmont's Oskar Blues Homemade Liquids and Solids. The restaurant gets three to four wheels of Haystack cheese every week, giving the Blues crew free rein to feature Haystack cheese in all sorts of cheese boards and specials. "We're all about local here," Thomas says with pride.
Thomas's pumpkin ravioli is bathed in a cream sauce of Haystack goat cheese and G'Knight, and studded with green chiles. Just like the Oskar Blues brewery itself, it's sweet and hearty, with a mischievous kick.
Scaggs slices off thin triangles of Sunlight, a strong raw-milk goat cheese for his visitors. "This is the O.G. Superfunk," he warns. "This one's not for everybody. They fear the funk." Even milder cheeses like the Spanish-style hard Queso de Mano or the classic Boulder Chevre benefit from the vision and craft brought to the table by Chang, who's been head cheesemaker since 2004. The widespread acceptance of goat cheese since Haystack opened in 1989 leads more and more people to pursue the aggressive, almost barnyard-y flavors of cheeses like Sunlight and Red Cloud.
Matt Twing A Haystack employee waxes wheels of buttercups. "It's all in the wrist," says Scaggs.
Scaggs recounts giving out tastes of funky Sunlight on slices of tart Honeycrisp apples at the Boulder Farmers' Market: "I gave a girl a taste of this at the farmers' market, and this is probably one of the best quotes of the season... her eyes kind of flutter a little bit and they roll back in her head, she goes 'Oh my god, I think you just changed my DNA a little bit.'" Well, a little genetic restructuring never hurt anybody.