Hoard’s Dairyman Farm Creamery in Fort Atkinson will be hosting a tasting at Jones Market this Saturday to debut Belaire, one of its two handcrafted specialty cheeses.

The event takes place at the Jones Dairy Farm retail store in Fort Atkinson from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17.

Hoard’s Dairyman Farm Creamery master cheesemaker Sandy Speich will be handing out samples and answering questions about Belaire, a classic mild and creamy Port Salut-style cheese with a distinctive orange rind.

Made from Guernsey milk produced on the Hoard’s Dairyman Farm north of Fort Atkinson, Belaire is named for the naval captain who was the first to bring Guernsey cows to the United States. It pairs well with fresh fruits, crackers, and an ice-cold brew, and is ideal used in fondue, macaroni and cheese, or grilled sandwiches.

“The Hoard’s Belaire cheese is made from the farm’s Guernsey milk. The milk is high in beta carotene, which gives the cheese it wonderful golden color,” Speich said. “The cheese has a wonderful creamy/buttery flavor that fills your palette with wonderful flavor and cleans up nicely. The cheese is great on a sandwich, both melted or not. And on a pizza, it melts and flows, with the great buttery flavor enhancing the flavor of the other toppings.”

In addition to the cheese samples, attendees at Saturday’s debut may taste a new signature sandwich created by Jones Market.

“As if the cheese weren’t delicious enough by itself, we have married three local ingredients — all with longstanding Fort Atkinson ties — to make a signature sandwich made with Jones Pepper Bacon and Hoard’s Belaire cheese — grilled to perfection on Fireside cheese bread,” Speich said. “Stop by the cheese-tasting event to try a sample … and if you like it, you can buy all three ingredients to make the tasty sandwich at home.”

Speich has been involved in the cheese industry for more than 30 years. Her father, Lloyd “Butch” Wenzel, was a third-generation dairy farmer in Sullivan, and Speich and her husband, Al Speich, built a house on part of the farm and today rent it out to a crop farmer. Her father-in-law, Alfred Speich, was a cheesemaker at the cheese plant in Concord, where he made brick and muenster.

Sandy Speich has attended many cheesemaking short courses throughout the United States and has presented at cheesemaking short courses at the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research, University of Wiscsonsin-River Falls, Pennsylvania State University and other locations.

Speich has worked with several large cheese manufacturers, helping them develop new cheeses or adjusting their recipes and ingredients to improve or change the cheese flavor. For several years, she was in technical service helping cheesemakers get started in the industry, helping them with recipes and troubleshooting their problems.

She also has been a judge for the cheese competitions at the World Dairy Expo and American Cheese Society, and led a cheese evaluation team at one of her places of employment. The team met twice a month and evaluated cheese for flavor and texture.

“In order to be a good judge of cheese, you need to taste often,” she said. “A good piece of cheese will fill your mouth with flavor. The flavor needs to clean up in your mouth, which means it should not linger, and after you are finished with the piece, you should want to take another piece.

“So as you can see, my entire life has been connected to the dairy industry,” Speich added.

She noted that Jones Market is the latest specialty cheese retailer to carry Belaire, which is available just in time for the holidays.

It was in October that the Fort Atkinson-based Hoard’s Dairyman magazine, the only U.S. agricultural publisher with its own operating dairy farm, announced production of two high-quality specialty cheeses using milk exclusively from its historic Guernsey herd.

In addition to Belaire, the creamery also is handcrafting a Camembert-style cheese, St. Saviour, a buttery cheese with a creamy core inside a brilliant white rind. It is named for the small, picturesque village on the Isle of Guernsey.

St. Saviour will be on the market soon and a cheese-tasting will be held at Jones Market at that time.

“Our plan to produce unique, high-quality cheese with our Guernsey milk was years in the making,” said W.D. Hoard & Sons Co. President Brian V. Knox. “We knew the milk from our Guernsey herd was exceptional, but the flavor, texture and volume of cheese produced from our milk surpassed all expectations. The rich taste of our Guernsey milk really comes through in our cheese.”

William Dempster Hoard was a pioneering publisher and the former Governor of Wisconsin. He founded the Daily Jefferson County Union in 1870, with his dairy page becoming a magazine in 1885. In 1899, the Hoard’s Dairyman Farm was established minutes from his publishing office.

Located along State Highway 89, the farm currently milks about 450 cows and is registered as a national historic site. Ancestors of Hoard’s original Guernsey herd still call the Hoard’s Dairyman Farm their home.

The magazine continues to be the most influential publication in the dairy industry, providing dairy producers, veterinarians and nutritionists with deeding, breeding, Animal Health and Milk Quality education and guidance for profitable milk production.

“W.D. Hoard was a visionary and experimented with the latest dairying practices known in the late 1800s to improve his milk quality and output,” Knox said.

“On today’s Hoard’s Dairyman Farm, we’re using 21st-century technology to produce our exceptional Guernsey milk on the same land and with the same passion W.D. Hoard took into his barn 120 years ago.”

Visit www.HoardsCreamery.com for a current list of specialty cheese stores carrying Hoard’s Dairyman brand cheese.

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