New Item Alert:  Cave Aged Chandoka from Standard Market

Aged Chandoka is an example how a bit of time, expertise, and a little help
from some cheese mites, can drastically affect the outcome of an aged cheese.

Standard Market receives wheels of Chandoka from LaClare Farms in Pipe, Wisconsin.
The cheese is produced in the style of traditional cheddar, but is made with
70% pasteurized cows’ milk, sourced from Red Barn Family Farms, a collective
dedicated to paying family farms a premium based on quality, cleanliness and
humane husbandry practices. Interestingly, raw cheeses aged less than 60 days
are prohibited from being shipped over state lines, therefore refining the
selection of which items Standard Market ages from infancy (something that many
believe only applies to imports.) However, the pristine quality of the milk is
evident in the final product; Cave Aged Chandoka carries layers of flavors.

other 30% of Chandoka is made up of pasteurized goats’ milk from the Quality Dairy
Goat Producers Cooperative, of which LaClare Farms is a part (and actually
helped to pioneer.) Quality Dairy was formed in an effort to standardize the
definition of quality in goat milk production while procuring a sustainable
price for small producers.

rennet is used to form the curds. The daisy-sized wheels are formed, and Standard
Market takes them in when they are 48-hours young. The flavor, at this point,
is bright and tangy; its texture is creamy and fudgy.

next steps, however, are what make this cheese unique to Standard Market. Maître fromager and affineur David Rogers lards and binds the wheels with muslin cloth,
allowing the cheese to breathe and form a natural crust on its exterior. The
cheese rests in Standard Market’s temperature- and humidity-controlled cellars
located in Countryside, Illinois. The environment is similar to that of an
early autumn evening in Chicago after a heavy rain – damp and cool. Meanwhile,
mites develop on Chandoka’s rind and feed on the developing molds. The wheels
are flipped, at first, every couple days, and later, on a weekly basis while
the wheels are vacuumed to keep the mites in check.

a minimum of 8 months aging, you will notice the dramatic transformation of the
cheese. The paste becomes drier and more firm with a slight crumble. Despite it
firmness, Chandoka melts on the tongue. Its aroma suggests grass and earth. Its
flavor is sweet and nutty, hinting at buttermilk, horseradish and stone.

had a few questions about the Standard Market caves, and spoke to Alyssa Stone,
Head Cheesemonger at Standard Market for some insight.

did the whole concept start?  

concept started with the opening of our Westmont retail location in 2011 where
we built a 70 square foot aging room within the Wine and Cheese Department that
rotated through various local creameries. We carried the same concept to our
second retail location in Naperville. After the continued success of both
spaces being reflected in the cheese community we decided to go forward with
expanding to a stand-alone aging facility at 12,000 square feet.

many cheeses are you currently aging?

we are aging 4 cheeses from Wisconsin, Michigan and Kentucky. We will be adding
3 more before the end of 2016.

do you look for when deciding on the type of cheese to age?

enjoy working with creameries who make their cheese by hand and know where
their milk is sourced from.

wheels are larded and clothbound once received at Standard Market – seems like
that takes some know-how. Any story behind that?

of LaClare Farms approached us saying that she wanted to do something different
with the Chandoka and wondered if we would be able to do an English-styled cloth
binding on it. After some research, conversations with other cheesemakers and affineurs,
and a touch of trial and error, we got the technique down and came to realize
Cave Aged Chandoka was going to be a permanent offering.

Carper, Editor-in-Chief of Dairy Foods magazine
interviews David Rogers of for a peek inside their newest cave and talks about
the making of Cave Aged Chandoka.

Julia Thiel of the Chicago Reader visits
the Countryside, Illinois operation and learns of some challenges while
discussing the future endeavors of the Standard Market affinage program.

link that made us chuckle the most, however, was the Standard Market Cheese
Cave Cam. I’m not going to lie; it was quite soothing to stare into great wide
open with the promise of all the delicious cheese to come.

true to the Midwestern vibe, we like to pair Cave Aged Chandoka with Salami
François, a white wine, garlic and white pepper dry-cured specialty from Red
Table Meat Co. out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Add some mustard, pickles and
grainy bread, and you have the start to a fantastic meal. The cheese is also a
tasty option for a dessert plate when served alongside raspberry jam or local

should you drink with this cheese? Cave Aged Chandoka elicits different flavors
depending on the beverage you choose. Here are a few complimentary suggestions:

Spicy Saison ale (we like
Missouri-based Boulevard Brewing’s Tank 7 or Chicago’s Off Color Apex Predator)

Dry cider

Flinty Chablis (or unoaked

Jammy red Zinfandel

Funky Côte du Rhône-style wine
(also labeled “GSM”)

Aged Chandoka was awarded 1st place in its class and was 1st
runner up Best of Show at the 2015 American Cheese Society conference. This is
pretty impressive given the fact that Standard Market is among the new kids on
the cheese block. Celebrate American Artisan Cheese Month during October with
Standard Market’s Cave Aged Chandoka, and toast to the new wave of domestic
producers and affineurs – we are proud of your creations!