| Photo: Max Shrem.
The clay-like appearance of Manchester's ridges (which comes from the use of Italian cheese-basket molds) cannot be separated from the cheese's smooth, sweet aromatic flavor, which makes it comparable to a French Tomme de Savoie. In fact, it's the bacteria and mold around the cheese that contribute to this deliciously well-balanced masterpiece. Just eight weeks into the aging process, Manchester's rind already develops spots of red mold on what Peter Dixon, dairy foods consultant and cheesemaker at Consider Bardwell Farm, calls a "wild rind."
By "wild," does Dixon mean to say that the molds and the bacteria grow naturally out of nowhere? Well, yes and no. After making Manchester, Dixon uses a soft brush dipped in whey to wash the rind. "Whatever microbes like that [whey] will grow," says Dixon. "We make the cheese, and then create the look by turning the cheese and rubbing it a couple of times a week."