Lakins Gorges Cheeses from Maine
Some cheeses inspire you the moment you unwrap them. Their freshness beckons, their rinds beg you to run your fingers across them. Surfaces speak: ripples call to mind tide pools, ridges suggest barnacles.
I am speaking about Lakins Gorges Cheese from Rockport, Maine. When I opened the box from their maker, Alison Lakin, I was struck by how sturdy they looked, like a crew of weathered mariners. Solid. Salty. Stoic. Even the ricotta held its basket curve.
Last Sunday, Erin, who is interning with me this spring, helped me gather a basket of props for our photo shoot. We tasked ourselves with expressing the personality of these rounds, and so we collected husky things – shells, wool, wood.
We wanted you to be able to taste these cheeses in your mind.
Imagine eating them with dark preserves – Allison Lakin likes to serve them with blueberry chutney, which we approximated with some ridiculously juicy pickled plums put up my friend Marisa McClellan.
We recorded our notes and starred our favorites.
Lakin’s Gorges Cheese Notes
Light, fluffy, immaculate, sweet. This ricotta retains the shape of its basket mold, such a nice touch. You can taste the quality organic milk here, from the 8th generation dairy (yes, that’s right) where Allison sources her milk.
Soft and creamy, like a peppermint patty with mushroomy notes. It’s the perfect size to pack on a winter picnic. Allison Lakin says this year’s Allagash Fluxus is an ideal bunk mate.
Prix de Diane*
Supple and oozy, delicate and mild. This luxurious cake is made for jam – it’s named for Allison’s godmother who encouraged her to become a cheesemaker (earlier in life, Allison worked as an anthropologist and a stage hand.)
Here’s the rugged scalawag of the bunch, all onion breath and a little bitter. Opus 42 smells and tastes like scallions just pulled from wet earth, like damp moccasins. It needs dark bread, marmalade, a side of pemmican. Not for the meek.
Earthy and salty, with a compact flaky texture and lovely sour cream and mushroom aftertaste – a drizzle of honey (try pine honey) is fitting for this stern bob named after a wooden whaling ship. What’s a stern bob? Well, just imagine. Incidentally, Morgan likes a nip off a flask of gin.
About Lakins Gorges Cheeses
“I’ve worked as a stage hand, and I studied anthropology,” Allison told me on the phone, a few days after she sent her samples. No wonder her cheeses live somewhere between the museum world (crustaceous) and the stage world (theatrical).
Allison’s operation is a one-woman show. She purchases organic milk from an 8th generation family farm and uses organic vegetarian rennet, making cheese in a rented space two days a week. On other days, she salts and ships. Most of her cheeses go out the door to wholesale accounts to co-ops and restaurants. She also sells them on her website.
If you live in Philadelphia, look for Lakin’s Gorges cheeses at Talula’s Daily next week.
And, of course, invite your friends to a snow picnic.
Curious about Maine cheeses? Check out the Maine Cheese Guild.