Editor’s Note: Please make sure not to miss the other entries in the Local Lunch Series.
As I have previously mentioned, the amount and quality of local, Ohio cheeses has increased exponentially. It is simply amazing how delicious the choices are, providing every variety you could ever desire. With that being said, I was disappointed when I went searching for local Ohio cheeses in [Cleveland] Ohio and was striking out at each turn. I looked at local grocery stores, national grocery stores, local cheese shops, local wine shops and so much more. Nothing. I even employed the help of the sous chef. Thankfully, we hit the jackpot at a local bakery, Luna Bakery & Cafe. That is where I found Mayfield Road Creamery Siberian Night and this particular cheese, Lake Erie Creamery Croquis.
For some reason, I was very intrigued by this cheese. Maybe it was because I know so little about “Croquis” or maybe it is because I have never tried Lake Erie Creamery cheese. Either way, I was very happy I was able to find and try Lake Erie Creamery.
When trying to describe the style/variety of this particular local cheese, we must first start with the base cheese, as named by Lake Erie Creamery: Blomma.
Blomma is Swedish for flower, a reference to this soft-ripened cheese’s “bloomy rind.” A more assertive goat cheese – creamy and piquant when fully ripe at about six weeks. For those who prefer a milder cheese, the Blomma goes to market at three weeks, with a creamy layer surrounding a firm center. 
The key to that description is “soft-ripened”. From that, we know that similar cheeses in this category are Brie or Camembert. When you see (and taste) this cheese, there is no doubt in your mind that all of these cheeses are in the same family.
The term “soft-ripened” describes cheeses “that are ripened from the outside in, very soft and even runny at room temperature.” The rind of the most popular soft-ripened cheeses are white and bloomy and sometimes have red or brown flecks. When eating these types of cheese, most people ask if the rind itself is edible and it is. The rind itself is created prior to the brief aging period “by spraying the surface of the cheese with a special mold, called penicillium candidum“. 
Lake Erie Creamery was founded in 2006 by the husband and wife duo of Jerry Onken and Mariann Janosko. In early 2013, the creamery was purchased by Brian Moran. Brian’s plans to continue along the same path, “sustaining the heritage of quality artisan products” that customers of Lake Erie Creamery have come to know and expect. 
All our cheeses are made by hand. For our fresh cheeses, we gently pasteurize each batch to preserve the milk’s quality and character. Great care is also taken with our raw milk products, making those cheeses the very same day we pick up our milk from the dairy. There is no substitute for freshness. 
The milk used to make Lake Erie Creamery’s cheese is brought in from Cherry Lane Farms in Portage County, Ohio. Cherry Lane milks 120 of their Saanen goats twice a day to produce enough milk to make delicious Lake Erie Creamery cheese. From the months of March through December, Lake Erie also uses milk from Grim Dairy in New London, Ohio. There, 100 Guernsey and Jersey cows are milked 2 to 3 times a day providing enough cow milk for all of Lake Erie Creamery’s cow milk products. 
lake erie creamery croquis
Lake Erie Creamery makes two cheeses that are very similar. Blomma is the base soft-ripened cheese that I explained above and is similar to Brie/Camembert. The Croquis that I purchased takes Blomma to a new level by flavoring it with vegetable ash. Originally, the ash came directly from a fire but currently, it is made from dried vegetables that are turned into ash. It is “sterile, odorless and tasteless.” 
When it comes to soft-ripened cheeses, such as Brie, I enjoy them if they are in front of me but never actually seek them out. They are popular cheeses but they don’t excite me as much as other varieties of cheeses. Therefore, I was interested to see how I would enjoy the Croquis. From my first to last bite, I could tell how much effort and care was put into this cheese and that only made the experience that much more enjoyable. Lake Erie Creamery calls themselves artisan cheese makers and after tasting their Croquis, I agree completely. The Croquis is smooth and creamy with the perfect nutty/tangy bite. It simply has great flavor that comes through with each and every morsel of cheese. Plus, once cut into it, it looks beautiful. If you enjoy soft-ripened cheeses, there is no doubt that you would enjoy Lake Erie Creamery Croquis.
lake erie creamery croquis grilled cheese
My main concern with using a soft-ripened cheese for a grilled cheese sandwich was “meltability.” I thought I would have to use the entire round on one grilled cheese just to insure there was enough cheese. I prepared half of the Croquis round (no rind) and started making my grilled cheese. Before I knew it, my bottom piece of bread was nicely covered and I was in good shape. As the grilled cheese began to cook and the Croquis began to melt out of the grilled cheese, I knew I was not only in good shape, I was in perfect shape. The Croquis had no problems melting inside and out of the sandwich. Half of the round was the perfect amount of cheese. Sure, to make a really cheesy grilled cheese, you could use the whole round but that would be overkill (and very expensive).
The nuttiness that I experienced when tasting the Croquis by itself was not lost in the grilled cheese, it was simply toned down. With the creamy texture and mild tangy bite, this cheese is perfect for a very unique and delicious grilled cheese sandwich.