To help guests learn and remember, every cheese comes with a descriptive tasting card that tells its story: where it is from, what its characteristics are, what wine to purchase with it, and sometimes a quirky story about the producer or farm. Use them as take-home tasting notes, or to recall your favorite cheese for next time. We’ve got an archive here as well for you to explore.
For more information about a particular cheese, just click on its name!
Made from a 3,000 year old recipe and ripened in a Benedictine Abbey way down near the Spanish border in the Pyrenees mountains. How could you not try this? Really rich and nutty with a caramelized brown sugar finish.
This is real wine-friendly stuff. White, red, whatever. Just enjoy!!
Acappella is one of many extremely small production cheeses from Andante dairy in Petaluma, CA. Soyoung Scanlan creates a variety of beautiful little cheeses by hand. They all have musical names and are very hard to come by. Acapella is very creamy and tangy with elegant, clean flavors overall. Not too goaty. More night at the opera feel and less chewing tobacco on the back of a pickup. This cheese will class up any cheese plate.
I really like unoaked Chardonnay with this creamy cheese.
This is the tough older brother of the famed Epoisses de Bourgogne. Ami is much stronger both in smell and taste. I get lots of eggs on the palate with this one. Very earthy and barnyardy. One of my favorites but you better like strong cheese if you want to play with this big boy.
Drink something strong with this. Maybe a grappa or an Irish Whiskey would be fun.
The beautiful village of Andeer is located in Southeastern Switzerland. This cheese took second place at the 2010 World Cheese Cup. What this means pretty much is that this bad boy was considered the world’s second greatest cheese this year. Andeerer Traum (The Dream of Andeer) is not strong but the flavors are amazing of chocolate, hay, and flowers.
I wouldn’t want to drink anything that would make me miss the complexity of this great cheese. Maybe a bone dry Riesling would be nice.
Appenzell is way the heck out in northeast Switzerland, near Austria. The cheese is repeatedly dipped in a secret mixture of herbs and booze. Identifiably Swiss flavors with a little more of a peppery flavor. The older ones (nine months or longer) can be fairly sharp.
Something spicy like a Gewurztraminer is excellent with Appenzeller.
One of the trio of wonderful Irish washed rind cheeses (Durrus and Gubbeen) from County Cork. The taste is very unique. Kind of musty with floral and citrus undertones.
Another extremely versatile cheese with wine. Ardrahan really goes with just about any fermented grape juice. If you find something that doesn’t match it, let me know.
Barely Buzzed is a brand new cheese from a brand new American dairy called Beehive Cheese Company in Ogden, Utah. The cheese is rubbed in a fun combination of espresso, lavender and canola oil. The cow’s milk flavor is rich enough to not get overpowered and you definitely get a nice, rich coffee flavor overall.
Wine? I can’t imagine. Try a mocha frappuccino.
Made by two brothers way up in Northeast Vermont, very close to Canada. Bayley Hazen is a fairly buttery and mild blue. They use rotational grazing (ask me) and the milk is pretty high quality year-round.
Some tawny or ruby port or even an off-dry Riesling would work nicely here.
As far as I am concerned, Beaufort is the undisputed king of the hard, French or Swiss Alpine cheeses. The flavor is identifiably Swiss (or alpine) but easily the richest and sweetest of this style. It is usually moister than the rest and if you get one made from summer milk, you have in your hands one of the world’s greatest cheeses.
Very wine friendly stuff here, but I like it best with Champagne.
Ridiculously good sheep’s milk cheese from near Coventry, England. Nutty and sweet with a pineapple finish. One of the greatest sheep’s milk cheeses I have ever tasted.
Full bodied Pinot Noirs or non-tannic big reds bring out the country flavors of this true farmhouse cheese.
Besace Affine has long been one of my favorite goat’s milk cheeses. It’s from Perigord, and it is named after the bags that the goatherders keep the feed in. When you translate it, it means “The Old Bag.” Goat’s milk cheeses from this area tend toward sweetness rather than sharp acidity. The trick here is the ashed rind which becomes strong and salty with age. The balance with the sweet milk is very appealing to me. The texture of this cheese is also very unusual. It’s kind of gummy and dense which makes for a very full mouthfeel.
I would an Alsatian style Pinot Gris with this old bag. You need a hint of sweetness to balance out the strong rind.
Big Wood’s Blue is a sheep’s milk blue from Minnesota. Really rich, creamy and tangy. Big Wood’s Blue won first place in it’s class at the 2004 American Cheese Championship and a blue ribbon in 2005. I am very impressed with their dedication to handcrafted cheeses. Unfortunately they lost 500 sheep to a fire in 2005 and are slowly rebuilding their business.
Great with cider, late harvest Gewurztraminer, or anything white and fairly sweet.
This is one of my new favorite cheeses. Believe it or not, it is a blue cheese. The mold is naturally formed and very subtle. The texture of this goat’s milk cheese is firm, smooth, and chalky. The flavor is subtle and gently acidic, with a long finish of green apples. Rizet is the name of the family that makes the cheese on a tiny farm in southern France.
Young, white Burgundy is a definite must pairing.
Bleu de Termignon is what you get when you have a cheese made by one woman with a tiny herd of nine strange looking Abondance cattle. This is what all blue cheese looked like before the monks started injecting everything with needles. The bluing is natural and subtle.
For the flavor, this stuff is outstanding. Imagine a really barnyardy and smelly Swiss mountain cheese with some blue in it.
Late harvest Gewurztraminer is an amazing pairing here.
OK. I know I seem to have a lot of favorites but Bleu du Bocage is really one of the best and most interesting blues I have tasted. I bought it years ago because I have a friend (Alex) who lives in the Vendée, and I wanted to surprise him. It’s a goat’s milk blue with kind of a sweet, crystalline structure.
Great with chewy, big reds or sweet white dessert wines.
Cato Corner Farm in Connecticut is Mother-son owned and run. They have a tiny herd of about 40 Jersey cows and they produce about 40,000 pounds of their various cheeses per year. They love to experiment with lots of different recipes and Bloomsday was originally made from a batch that did not turn out as planned. It was a happy mistake. The flavors are moist and tangy with a warm, long finish of hazelnuts. Bloomsday has really complex notes and should be savored. Very rare for an American cheese.
I think Bloomsday is very wine friendly but I most prefer any red wine from Burgundy with it.
Boerenkaas (farmer’s cheese) is a Gouda which has been aged for over two years. This particular Boerenkaas is made in Flandres, on the Belgian border of The Netherlands. The flavor is sharp at first, then settles into a beautiful butterscotch finish with plenty of those crunchy little milk salt crystals that everybody goes crazy over.
Try this big boy with a big Belgian ale like Malheur 12 or a monster red like an Amarone.
Let’s face it. If you’re looking for pure truffle flavor in a cheese, you don’t need to try anything else. Boschetto (little ball) is from Florence in Tuscany. It is a blend of cow and sheep milk flavored with precious white truffles. People get addicted to it very quickly. One taste and we’ll become your pusher (First taste is free). Boschetto also makes the sickest grilled cheese ever. I like to grate some into a hot pan full of buttered pasta and finish with Parmigiano-Reggiano.
If you eat Boschetto al Tartufo as a table cheese, try some very dry red wine like a Sangiovese with it.
Bourguignon is the newest of our triple-cremes. It’s from Burgundy and is among a line of products produced by the great Chantal Plasse. She is a second generation affineur and her cheeses are very difficult to find because of their awesomeness. This particular one is as rich as they get with a soft, long finish.
Bourguignon will pair with just about anything, even those monster California reds but my favorite is of course Champagne.
Now this is some serious cheese! Brebis de Rossinière is produced in the Vaud, home of Gruyère. This cheese is made from raw sheep’s milk in the beautiful village of Rossinière (turn over). If you want stinky, look no further. The cheese is strong and aggressive but the rich sheep’s milk gives it a sweet and tangy finish.
I think I might like an intensely fruity red wine without too much tannin like a Beaujolais Nouveau with this aggressive cheese.
This is the original Brie. Surprisingly to most, Brie is the name of a place near Paris. Just like Camembert, if it ain’t from Brie, it ain’t Brie. Brie de Meaux is the original and the recipe is about 1,200 years old. At its peak, Brie de Meaux is very elegant and smooth, with medium strong flavors of mushrooms and earth. Brie should smell a touch too.
My favorite drink with Brie is Champagne, but I also like almost any Pinot Noir with this classic.
Ferme de Jouvence (Farm of rejuvenation) is located in the commune of La Boissière-École, in northern France near the famous palace of Versailles. The farm is completely self-sufficient in energy. They heat the dairy and offices with the wood from their trees, and they derive their electric power from the use of anaerobic digestion (that’s right, cow poop). This farmhouse Brie is the closest thing we, in The United States, will ever taste to real Brie. This cheese is truly special. It has a touch of power from the rind and the raw milk. The flavor is smooth and earthy with definite hints of raw garlic and mushrooms. Most people prefer this cheese young and fresh but I prefer it older when the rind gets some red spotting and the flavor becomes sharper and more aggressive.
You can run a little strong with a wine pairing with Brie Fermier, it can take it. I like anything from Champagne or even a California Pinot or Cabernet Franc.
Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin was a French lawyer who became renowned as a food critic. He was the author of the great book, “The Physiology of Taste” (1825). The cheese was created in his honor in the 1930s by Henri Androuette, founder of the world’s greatest cheese shop. This is the original triple-crème. The cheese is made in Normandy and the flavor is as rich as it gets with a gentle hint of mushrooms.
Try Brillat-Savarin with Champagne or if you have some very harsh red wine, the cheese will soften out the tannins.
Gorgeous! Sheep’s milk from Corsica covered with rosemary, savory, juniper berries and chili peppers. Rich enough to stand up to and be complemented by all that decoration. Kind of milky flavored, a touch sour and of course, really herbaceous.
Really made for big reds but I prefer a nice, grassy Sauvignon Blanc with this delight.
Cabot is very much a cooperative creamery. It is a union of 330 family farmers in Vermont that has existed since 1919. This quintessentially American product won the 2004 World Cheese Award for “Best Cheddar in the World.” Then in 2006, they won Best in Show at the American Cheese Championship. Taste this and tell me there are no great American cheeses, I dare you.
This stuff is so good with beer, the richer and darker, the better. I also love this cheese with a nice, jammy California Zinfandel like Brown Family from Napa.
Do not accept imitations!!! If there is a sycamore leaf around this cheese, it is not Cabrales. The real stuff will clear your sinuses out. Not for the faint of heart. Extreme power with really nice wood and chocolate undertones.
Drink something as sweet as possible like a dark, raisiny, vintage port with this monster.
This cheese from the Belgian Ardennes has been produced with fresh goat’s milk from a local farmer. The curd is moisty, the pâte is white and smooth with small holes, the tastes is very fresh and gentle. The crust has been washed slightly and maturation takes place for minimum 6 weeks in wet cellars.
Beertip: Hommelbier, it has a strong presence of hops, the flavour is refreshing with a slightly bitter aftertaste.
See the flag? This cheese is from France. Normandy. If the cheese is not labeled as above, it ain’t the real deal. And the difference is huge. The real stuff is always rich, and can develop a fairly strong smell as it ages. It can become quite sharp when aged properly. If you see the genuine article, you need to be eating it.
Camembert goes well with many wines but I prefer a big Blanc de Noirs Champagne or sparkling wine.
To make things easy, let’s call this a French Cheddar. This recipe from the Auvergne is at least 2,000 years old. Cantal is one of my favorite snacking and cooking cheeses. A hint of sharpness depending on the age and fairly buttery and nutty.
Cantal is country food and I like it with country wines like Rhone blends, Malbec or Gamay blends are fun with Cantal too.
Capricious is a very unique American creation. From Petaluma, California, this cheese won Best in Show at the 2002 American Cheese Championship. Capricious is a hard, washed-rind goat’s milk cheese. You don’t see much of those around. Capricious actually starts out pretty moist but is aged by the air coming off the Pacific Ocean for ten months which dries it out.
Capricious is very dry and a bit salty so what I like to drink with it is Pale Ale.
Carré du Poitou is about as close as we can get to sampling the famed roadside cheeses that the farmers of the Loire Valley offer for sale to passers-by. Carré (square) is a simple, brie-style cheese. Carré is a great alternative to Brie for the lactose intolerant but should be more appreciated for its own merit. The flavors are tangy, creamy and smooth with enough acidity to remind you that this great cheese is made from goat’s milk.
My ideal pairing for this tangy cheese is Cabernet Franc.
If you’re looking for a rich, buttery, meltable blue cheese that still has some power, this is the one for you. Cashel is from Tiperary, Ireland and is produced by Jane and Louis Grubb. The Grubbs have been making butter and milk for well over a century. They have graduated to a farmhouse but this cheese originated in Jane’s kitchen. They really believe in keeping their herd of 120 Friesan cattle happy and healthy (turn over) and you can taste the rich result.
Marisa is the name of Sid Cook’s daughter. Sid Cook is the cheesemaker at Carr Valley Dairy in LaValle, Wisconsin. He’s about as much as a superstar as you can be if you’re a cheesemaker. Two of his cheeses placed first and third for Best in Show at the American Cheese Championship in 2007. Cave aged Marisa came in third but I agree with Sid that this cheese should have won the big award. The cheese is washed in cider vinegar and the rind coated with butter to keep the cheese nice and moist. The cheese is beautifully balanced and elegant. Salty and sweet with a definite hazelnut note.
Try Marisa with a Spanish Priorat, California Zinfandel, or a nice, buttery Chardonnay.
This rare treat is from Aveyron, in southern France. The cheese arrives at the cellars of the great affineur, Hervé Mons, when it is just ten days old. The cheeses then are aged under the watchful eyes of monsieur Mons before being released for sale. The texture is dense and the flavor is very earthy and nutty. I prefer them a bit older when they pick up some bluing and power but most people think I’m insane.
Mons suggests a big, oaky Chardonnay with Cazelle but I prefer something bold and gamy like Mourvèdre.
Charmoix is a rare cheese from the province of Wallonia in Southern Belgium. The cheese is a washed rind, raw cow’s milk cheese produced by a tiny cooperative in the town of Maffe. Charmnoix is slightly smelly and fairly mild tasting with a nice, salty butter feel and an eggy finish.
Try Charmoix with a light, fruity wheat beer like Apple White from Belgium or an off dry Riesling.
The Abbey of Notre-Dame de Scourmont is the home of some very happy monks. They are more famous for their line of beers called Chimay but they have also been making cheese since 1876. I like the Grand Cru the best. It is washed in brine and aged in the cellars of the abbey. Extremely smooth, semi-firm texture and rich, rich, rich.
No doubt the perfect partner is a rich, Belgian, trappist ale.
Colorouge made by MouCo Cheese Co. (Fort Collins, CO) – Soft-ripened cheese made from cow’s milk. This cheese sports a warm orange rind shot with clouds of white, which comes about naturally during the “smearing” process. During the two-week aging process, each cheese is rubbed, or smeared, by hand to encourage such a glowing tint and to develop flavor within the cheese. It has a wonderfully creamy texture with buttery undertones and creamy lingering flavors all complemented by a well-defined assertive nutty character; as it ages, it becomes quite spicy and complex.
Pairs well with a white or fruity red wine like a Beaujolais.
(Shropshire is simply an orange Stilton)
Stilton is widely regarded as the king of English cheese and Colston Bassett is the king of Stilton. They are one of the smallest Stilton Dairies in England. They buy milk from 5 farms surrounding the dairy. They have been buying from the same farms since the 1920s. Since 1920, there have only been 4 head cheesemakers at Colston Bassett. Their Stilton is more traditional than any other. The curd is hand-ladled before draining. This treats the curd more gently and preserves its structure which results in a luscious, creamy texture when the cheeses are mature. The flavor is big, salty, tangy, and intensely creamy.
Enjoy your Stilton with a big vintage port for one of the most classic and amazing beverage pairings you will ever enjoy.
Comte dates back to the 12th century. Most people do not realize that Comte is French Gruyere, hence the name. Look for the green label with the bell on it. This is a governmental stamp of the highest quality. The taste is fruity, nutty, rich and a touch salty with a lingering aftertaste.
I like Comte with lots of wine, particularly Alsatian Gewurztraminer.
Believe it or not, Constant Bliss was a person’s name. He was killed by American Indians guarding the Bayley Hazen road in Northern Vermont, near Canada. He was guarding the road from British soldiers during the Revolutionary war. The cheese is fashioned after French Chaource and tastes exactly nothing like it. The milk is delicious, rich and fresh tasting. I am a huge fan.
Constant Bliss is great with Champagne or some young, unoaked Chardonnay.
Coolea is made in County Cork, Ireland. It was originally make by a couple who emigrated from The Netherlands and is very much a Gouda style cheese. Coolea, besides being outfreakingstanding, is a great example of cheese Terroir. You really taste the Irish flowers and herbs mixed with the sweet caramel flavors of aged Gouda.
I think the perfect pairing with Coolea is an Amontillado Sherry.
Couserans is made in the Ariège mountains which borders Spain and Andorra and is on the route of the Tour de France. The cheese is one of a small handful of cow’s milk cheeses in the Pyrenees mountains. The flavor is very smooth, sweet, rich and nutty.
Couserans is very versatile with wine pairings. My favorite is a young, Australian Shiraz.
The region of Berry in the Loire Valley is the perfect area for raising goats (and growing Sauvignon Blanc). It is very rocky and dense with foliage. Not a lot of pasture but plenty of riverside vegetation to eat. Crottin is one of the world’s classic goat’s milk creations. This is the original. It’s great from young to superaged. I like it when it gets a little green or blue mold going on the rind. By the way, talk about a small-town original; the village of Chavignol has only 200 inhabitants! Not bad for a world famous cheese.
I prefer this cheese with a nice, minerally Sancerre.
Dante is a product of the Wisconsin Sheep Dairy Cooperative, an association of 15 fairly small sheep dairies in Western Wisconsin. They combine the milks of two famous sheep breeds to produce high quality milk with fairly high yield. The cheese itself is extremely rich, nutty, smooth and grassy with a little clean tanginess on the finish.
The WSDC recommends drinking fruity reds or semi-sweet whites with Dante. I agree. I think a young, chilled Beaujolais is perfect with this fruity cheese.
Doddington is a beautiful cheese from Northumberland, Northeast England which borders Scotland. The herd of 250 cows all have individual names. The names of the specific areas of production are an astounding coincidence for those of us in Los Angeles. The farm is nestled at the bottom of the Cheviot Hills in the Glendale Valley! The flavor is earthy and tangy with a sweet finish.
Because of its richness, Doddington pairs nicely with big, smooth wines like Australian Shiraz.
"Twenty young men chase a cheese off a cliff and tumble 200 yards to the bottom, where they are scraped up by paramedics and packed off to hospital". This is a description of Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake, an annual insane event in Gloucestershire. The prize is a wheel of Double Gloucester. "Double" just refers to the fact that the cheese is made from whole, unskimmed milk as opposes to Gloucester which has skimmed milk blended into it. The flavor is smooth, silky and creamy.
I like Double Gloucester with any rich ale or spicy Italian or Northern Rhone reds.
This is the famed Drunken Goat from southeastern Spain (Murcia). This cheese was invented in 1986 when the local government in Murcia wanted a distinctive cheese that could be awarded regional commercial status. Within a year, the Drunken Goat was born. The cheese was an instant success and quickly became popular throughout the world. The flavor is very grapey and clean with a smooth finish. Another excellent choice for the lactose intolerant among us.
Try Murcio al Vino with Spanish Vino Tinto or French Beaujolais to highlight the grapey notes.
Young cheesemaker Edwin Berchtold in beautiful Schwarzenberg, Austria is the inventor of this fabulous cheese. Most of the cheeses from Austria are of the hard, Alpine style but Edwin seems to prefer the softer styles. From what I can tell, this is his take on the famous French Munster, but Edwin’s is saltier, richer and meatier. I love this cheese, and not just because my ancestors were Austrian.
Try Edwin’s with a nice German beer or a spicy Gewurztraminer.
If you’ve never tasted Epoisses, you need to. Epoisses is the sexiest food you will ever eat. If you’re afraid of smelly cheese but want to know what all the fuss is about, start here and you will understand.
Epoisses is pretty versatile with beverages but I always like a good, big Pinot Noir with this. Even beer works great if the Epoisses is salty enough.
In the 1930s a group of 76 Gruyere producing families felt that the government regulations were allowing cheesemakers to compromise the qualities that made good Gruyere so special. They pulled out of the government’s Gruyere program, and "created" their own cheese – L’Etivaz – named for the village around which they all lived. The cooperative was founded in 1932, and the first cellars were built in 1934.
L’Etivaz is fairly powerful and needs a pretty intense white wine to complement the strong fruit flavor of this Swiss giant. Think of something acidic like Chasselas or Sauvignon Blanc.
As far as I know, Etorki is the most popular of the French Basque Sheep’s milk cheeses. Made exclusively from the milk of the black-faced Manech sheep, Etorki is pressed and soaked in brine before being aged for 3 to 6 months. The result is a very moist, creamy, rich and nutty flavor with hints of burnt caramel. Etorki is the Sara Lee of cheese. Nobody doesn’t like Etorki.
Etorki is another brilliant cheese with almost all wine but I prefer a nice vanilla, oaky Chardonnay (I’m American).
Etude is one of many extremely small production cheeses from Andante dairy in Petaluma, CA. Soyoung Scanlan, the cheesemaker, creates a variety of handmade artisan dairy products with musical names. Etude is fashioned after cheeses of the Pyrenees region, though she uses goat’s milk instead of the more traditional sheep’s milk. Expect a firm texture with a creamy finish, earthy flavors, minimal acidity, and a touch of salt from this aged goat cheese.
I really like unoaked Chardonnay or Viognier with Etude.
This is real, Italian Fontina made in the Italian Alps right on the Swiss border. True Fontina tastes very much like some of the great Swiss mountain cheeses but a little bit milder, sweeter, and more elegant. Turn this card over to see how beautiful and rustic the Aosta valley is.
I like any of the northern Italian whites like Pinot Grigio or of course, Chianti or a Sangiovese blend with my Fontina.
Forsterkäse, literally "lumberjack cheese" is something special. It comes from Canton Thurgau on the German Border. It is a cow’s milk cheese washed in white wine and wrapped in Pine bark. The flavor is spicy, woody, smooth, and above all, powerful!
Drink something monstrous with Forsterkäse. Maybe a Chateau-neuf-du-Pape or an Amarone.
All I can say about this cheese is “it’s about time!!!” Teleme, similar to Italian Stracchino or Crescenza has been produced by Franklin Peluso and his family for decades. I used to buy it years ago but I noticed the quality went way south for a while so I gave up on it. It turns out that Franklin had sold the company and was no longer making the cheese. Well, he’s back and producing this classic under his own label and it’s awesome! Teleme is a sweet, creamy cow’s milk cheese coated in rice flour.
Use Teleme in pasta or feed it to the kid’s for a high-protein, healthy, sweet snack.
This double crème (60% butterfat) tastes like a milder version of Brie. Fromager D’Affinois is considered one of the best cheeses from the Southern Rhone in France, it is created exclusively by Fromagerie Guilloteau in Lyon.
Fromager D’Affinois is perfect with any light bodied white or sparkler.
Go ahead, try to pronounce it, I dare you. You better be able to roll your "r’s!" I like Garrotxa very much. You don’t find a lot of goat’s milk cheeses of this texture and size. Perfect for those of us who are unfortunate enough to be lactose intolerant. Garrotxa is very pleasant with nice, grassy flavors. Garrotxa is just a few miles from the border of Andorra, right on the northern border of Spain (Catalonia).
For white wine I like a dry Riesling or light Sauvignon Blanc and for a red it has to be a Priorat or a Montsant.
That’s right, goat’s milk cheese from Norway. Gjetost is a mixture of milk, cream and whey that is boiled until the milk sugar gets caramelized and the water evaporates. Gjetost is very easy to eat. It is extremely sweet with a hint of sharpness at the finish. Give this to your kids instead of sliced, individually wrapped "American Cheese Food" and they will thank you for it. So will I.
Nothing goes with Gjetost better than a nice glass of cold milk.
OK. Here we go. HOW-duh, like "Ow! It hurts my ears when people say GOO-duh". I know, I’m insane but hey, I play with bacteria and fat for a living, humor me. Now, I like the old Goudas the best and when aged properly and made on a small farm (Gouda Boerenkas) it is truly one of the world’s great taste sensations. Very sharp with sweetness to balance, finishing with nice butterscotch and caramel notes, yum!
Max McCalman likes Amarone with this and this is one of the few times I agree with him. It’s psycho-good.
Grands Causse is produced by the Seguin family they have their own herd of sheep (the famous Lacaune sheep’s that are used to make Roquefort). As soon as the milking is done the rennet is added to the milk that is at the animal’s body temperature which means the milk is not refrigerated before production. This adds greatly to the complexity of the cheese. Grand causses is slowly aged on wood shelves for 2 months, the cheese is regularly brushed which gives the rind texture. The flavor is fruity, nutty and earthy. The production level is extremely low and Grands Causses is perhaps the greatest sheep’s milk cheese I have ever tasted.
Great with Rhone-style wines or Australian Shiraz.
Graskaas is a very special type of Gouda. Graskaas is only made from the first milking of the cow’s each spring and this milk is the best and the richest. You really can taste the richness in this rare cheese. The cheese is fruity and slightly sweet with a smooth texture and finish. Please ask to try some. It’s very rare and special and should be sampled.
Because of the richness and mildness of this cheese, any full-bodied white or red wine works nicely as a pairing.
Grayson is made by Meadow Creek Dairy in a town called Galax, in southwest Virginia . Galax is in the Appalachian mountains and borders Grayson county which this cheese is named for. Meadow Creek is at a very high altitude away from pollution. The cattle graze on fresh grass and drink clean water. This results in a very rich, complex cheese. Grayson is kind of a rich, meaty, slightly smelly cheese. It is made in the fashion of the famed Taleggio from northern Italy.
I think Grayson is outstanding with any small production American ale.
Grevenbroecker is one of the most beautiful and unusual looking cheeses you will ever find. It is from the Belgian city of Hamont-Achel in the Northeast on the border of The Netherlands. Rather than being injected with the Roquefort mold that produces its purple marbled appearance, the penicillin is introduced during the renneting process. The curds are cut roughly in chunky bunches, and pieced back together by hand in the cheese mold by the maker. The result of all of this is a superb rich texture and sweetness due to the richness of the milk, and a wonderful peppery zing from the prolific blue mold, whose fingers extend throughout all of the seams where the curds are bound together. It is a potent, yet accessible complex treat, and extremely rare.
Cool story. Hungarian-Spanish woman travels to the French Alps to learn to make cheese, falls in love with an Irishman, moves to Ireland and makes smelly French-style cheese with a Spanish flair from County Cork, Ireland. Tastes of smoke, Irish milk and herbs with a romantic feel of a musty aging cave. Turn this over and check out Gubbeen house. I gotta go live there!
Delicious with Gewurztraminer.
Halloumi from Cyprus is my only cheese from the Middle East. Halloumi is famous because it is wonderful to cook with. My Halloumi is made out of sheep’s milk. The melting point of Halloumi is extremely high and you can grill it, fry it, or roast it and it won’t lose it’s shape. Halloumi is like a denser, saltier mozzarella with a little mint in it.
Heublumen is another one of our specialty cheeses made by the Stadelmann Family inToggenberg, Switzerland. It is a very rich raw cow’s milk cheese covered with hayflowers. Heublumen is complex, nutty, herbal and grassy. It is extremely rich and smooth and one of my favorite Alpine cheeses.
Try Heublumen with hard cider or a rich Chardonnay.
This cheese is made in Dallas by Paula Lambert who is the nicest lady ever. It is a Banon style goat’s milk bundle wrapped in Mexican leaves. Very crisp, clean, smooth and minty with a bit of a root beer finish.
Great with light, crisp, fruity white wines like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon blanc. Also try an India Pale ale just for kicks.
Tony and Julie Hook make some of America’s oldest Cheddars in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. They have a cheese cave carved into the side of a hill and they like to keep their cheeses extremely moist. All of the milk for their cheese comes from a carefully selected group of 25 small family farms in the rural area surrounding Mineral Point. Tony personally delivers product to area restaurants, and every Saturday from spring through fall the couple can be found manning their busy booth at Madison’s renowned Dane County Farmers Market. The 10 year is fairly intense and rich with those delicious little crystals throughout.
Try Hook’s 10 year with a big California Zinfandel.
Tony and Julie Hook make some of America’s oldest Cheddars in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. They have a cheese cave carved into the side of a hill and they like to keep their cheeses extremely moist. All of the milk for their cheese comes from a carefully selected group of 25 small family farms in the rural area surrounding Mineral Point. Tony personally delivers product to area restaurants, and every Saturday from spring through fall the couple can be found manning their busy booth at Madison’s renowned Dane County Farmers Market. The 12 year is fairly sweet and rich with those delicious little crystals throughout.
Try Hook’s 12 year with a big California Pinot Noir.
Cato Corner Farm in Connecticut is Mother-son owned and run. They are one of the leaders in new American raw milk cheese producers. Hooligan is washed in buttermilk and is a great example of how we Americans can make world class stinky cheese out of raw milk. Great intro into the superstinky washed rind cheeses of Europe, Hooligan is not overpowering and finishes with a touch of sweetness. Outstanding choice for a cheese board if you want a stinky cheese that doesn’t send everyone running.
I think Hooligan is made for beer. Belgian ales or even a stout with Hooligan remind me of winter in an Irish Pub.
Yeah, I know. Everybody sells Humboldt Fog. But you know what? It’s a darn good cheese and more importantly, Mary Keehn, the cheesemaker is one nice lady. The line down the middle is vegetable ash which is flavorless and decorative.
Any nice, young California Sauvignon Blanc is wonderful with this American Classic.
Idiazábal is another one of the underrated jewels of the cheese world. I enjoy it more and more every time I eat it. It hails from the Spanish Basque and is a century’s old traditional shepherd’s cheese. Idiazábal was originally smoked by the shepherds who stored it in their chimneys and is now gently wood smoked to retain the natural flavors. Tastes of wood, olives and almonds.
You really need a bold red wine with a lot of barnyard feel like a Chateauneuf du Pape with this farmer’s cheese.
The Isle of Mull is one of the large, mostly unpopulated, islands of the Inner Hebrides of Western Scotland. It is too expensive for them to ship feed over to Mull from the mainland so they use discarded grain husks from the local distillery to feed their herd. Since the summers are short, this is the bulk of the cow’s diet. The result is a kind of yeasty, buttermilk flavor. You will also notice that the cheese is often very white due to the lack of beta-carotene in the animal’s diets for much of the year. The flavor is fairly mild, very fruity, and a bit vinous (vinous? – winey).
Keen’s is the prototype English farmhouse Cheddar. Keen’s is from Somerset and is the creamiest and moistest of the English Cheddars that I carry. Keen’s is also easily the earthiest. Very humid and musty flavors balanced with massive richness.
Farmhouse cheddars are very versatile with wine because of the richness and fruitiness. I prefer weird, big, gamy reds like Rhones or Rhone-style blends. Even a nice, rich dark beer is decadent with these monsters.
Sweet, waxed-rind blue from King Island which is a tiny island next to Tasmania. Very unique blue cheese. Nice little sugary grains throughout.
Try with an oaky, full-bodied California Chardonnay.
Another original creation from the Stadelmann Family in Toggenburg, Switzerland. Krummenswiler is a firm cheese made from raw cow’s milk in the style of Appenzeller which is made a little to the north. Krummenswiler is richer and sweeter than its famous cousin. It’s also made in a much smaller, more manageable format.
I enjoy Krummenswiler with hard cider or big Burgundies.
There are several cheeses from Extremadura just like this one. They are almost indistinguishable. La Serra, Torta del Casar are two other famous ones. I like La Serena the best because it is the most consistent and is the purest example of what sheep’s milk cheese can taste like. Very oily, buttery, grassy and a bit bitter on the finish. Great for parties. Just slice off the top and spread it on a crusty piece of bread.
Spanish Albariño for white really highlights the grassiness in this cheese and Mas de Maha from Villa Creek is sensational for a red here.
Very rare washed-rind cow’s milk cheese from Champagne, France. Pretty flavors of fried eggs and butter.
Dump some Champagne into the concave top before you eat this cheese if you want to freak out.
Named after the region of Leon, Spain, this rustic goat’s milk cheese has a beautiful natural, rustic rind and a pure white interior. The Spanish goat cheeses like this one tend to be much grassier and earthy than most others. The aroma is of mushrooms and truffle and the taste is of grass and tart lemons.
A nice, tart Spanish white like an Albariño is what you need with a cheese that has this much acidity.
That’s right, Limburger. Limburger is the only thing that can kill Mighty Mouse (I read it on the Internet, it must be true). This one is from Bavaria and it’s beautiful. Most Limburgers are extremely salty. This one is not. I find it very smooth, rich, meaty and buttery.
The standard beverage with this smellmeister is beer because of all the salt. This particular Limburger is more versatile. I also like anything made from Riesling with it.
What a great name for a cheese! The Poacher is made in The Fens, a marshland east of London on the North Sea. The style is very interesting. It’s basically a Cheddar but the flavor is much cleaner and more approachable than a traditional farmhouse English Cheddar. I think it’s a great cheese to try for those of us who want an earthy Cheddar that doesn’t taste like somebody’s basement.
Lincolnshire Poacher likes big, fruity reds but is really great with just about anything. Try a bold pairing and have your guests bask in your genius!
Mahón has always been one of my favorite Spanish cheeses. It comes from the island of Menorca, one of the Balearic Islands. There is a factory produced version of this cheese mass produced which I cannot recommend. Mahón should be light brown, very firm, and have marks on the top where the cloth used to age and drain the cheese used to be. I liken it to a drier, saltier Cheddar.
Try Mahón with some Sherry or Madeira and dream of Spain.
Midnight Moon is the only non-American American cheese that I know of. The cheese is owned by Cypress Grove Chevre in Humboldt County, CA. However, the cheese is made and aged in The Netherlands and then shipped to California for sale. The cheese is basically a pasteurized goat’s milk Gouda with flavors of nuts, brown butter and caramel. "It’s the best cheese ever!" – Zoe Katz
If I wanted some wine with Midnight Moon, it would have to be very delicate and off-dry, like an Alsatian Riesling.
Ah, Mimolette! The cantaloupe of the cheese world. Mimolette is a French version of the Dutch cheese, Edam. Mimolette is more brightly colored than Edam because of the use of Annatto to dye the cheese orange. Mimolette is made in and around the city of Lille in Northern France. The taste is kind of like a cross between Cheddar and Gouda. Smooth and sweet without too much salt or fat. I prefer Mimolette aged for a little more tanginess, nuttiness and character.
I would drink a smooth Sherry or mild ale with Mimolette.
Minuet is a goat’s milk triple crème enriched with crème fraiche from Andante dairy in Petaluma, CA. Soyoung Scanlan creates a variety of lovely small format cheeses by hand. These musically named treasures are produced in very limited quantities. This one in particular is dedicated to Sadie Kendall of Kendall Farms crème fraiche, one of Ms. Scanlan’s mentors. Minuet has a very light tang and a pleasant richness. This cheese would be an excellent addition to a cheese platter at your next social gathering.
Minuet is designed for sparkling wine and Champagne.
Mont St. Francis is the favorite cheese of renowned cheesemaker Judy Schad of Capriole, Indiana. Mont St. Francis is a beautifully stinky goat’s milk cheese named after a Franciscan monastery that used to be in southern Indiana. I believe this cheese to be one of the unknown masterpieces of American cheesemaking.
The ideal partner for this stinker is American Bourbon but I also lean towards Allagash’s Curieux ale from Maine.
Montbriac Rochebaron is a soft-ripened blue cheese from the Massif Central. Imagine a really great Brie and then add some bluing to it and voila! Rochebaron. Great for cheese plates because even people who are terrified of blue cheese like this oozy treat.
Rochebaron is fairly wine friendly but I wouldn’t try anything too white and light because it could get overpowered by the bluing.
One of studs of the cheese world. If you find a better tasting goat cheese, buy it. You won’t. Made by Rafael Baez and his daughter, Paloma, in Avila (a walled city, turn this card over to see), near Madrid. Monte Enebro is covered with wood ash and blue mold to give it a little more punch. Monte Enebro is the ultimate in goat. Creamy, rich, goaty, earthy, assertive, complex. Truly a classic.
Because of the salt and acidity here, I like anything that I would drink with a blue cheese like a Sauternes or Muscat. You could easily talk me into a sherry with this too.
The benchmark for cheddar on this planet (although I hear they make some great cheddars on Neptune). Very rich, musty, earthy, humid. May contain some bluing which is a badge of honor with this cheese from Somerset, England.
Farmhouse cheddars are very versatile with wine because of the richness and fruitiness. I prefer weird, big, gamy reds like Rhones or Rhone-style blends. Even a nice, rich dark beer is decadent.
Morbier is an interesting and terrific cheese. It is from Franche-Comté in the French Alps. Morbier is made from the same milk that is used to make French Gruyere and retains the fruity flavor of that prized milk. Originally, Morbier was only consumed by the cheesemaker and his family because it was made from leftover milk. The cheesemaker would lay vegetable ash over the cheese to keep the bugs off and the next morning they would top it off from the next day’s production. The ash is still there for decoration these days. The texture is semi-firm, the aroma pungent, and the flavor rich and fruity.
Enjoy Morbier with Chardonnay or Pinot Noir.
Not to be confused with Muenster, Munster Géromé was created by trappist monks in the 7th century way up in the Vosges mountains of Alsace. The name Munster is derived from "Monastery." The cheese is bathed in brine and aged in very humid cellars which contribute to the famous foul aroma of this world class cheese.
Try some late harvest Gewurztraminer with Munster Géromé for one of those magical regional pairings.
There is only one producer of Nevat in the world. His name is Joesp Cuixart, and he lives in Catalonia. Nevat is a Catalonian word for snow because the cheese looks like the top of a snow capped mountain. The cheese is very interesting. It is a bloomy rind (Brie style) goat’s milk cheese. Very creamy when young with a nice, clean lactic goat’s milk tang on the finish. Nevat will age well and can become quite powerful when aged long enough.
I have tried several pairings with Nevat but I always go back to Spanish Cava.
Even though the city of Gouda is in South Holland, Nowadays the best Goudas are from North Holland. This one is one of the best. Our Noord Hollander is aged for four years when we get it. Lots of crunchy little calcium lactate crystals with a finish of butterscotch and caramel. I always taste a little barbecue sauce in there too.
Try an Amarone or a rich Belgian-style ale like Chimay Grande Reserve or Unibroue’s Trois Pistoles with Noord Hollander.
Old Kentucky Tomme is not actually from Kentucky but it’s real close. It’s birthplace is Capriole Dairy in southern Indiana, right on the Kentucky border. The cheese is a semi-firm, raw goat’s milk cheese made in the style of the French "Tommes." The flavor is nice and grassy with acidity from the goat’s milk and a mushroomy finish.
Cheesemaker Judy Schad recommends drinking a nice, soft Zinfandel with Old Kentucky Tomme and I think that’s a smashing idea.
Made on a small farm by brothers Sebastian and Dan von Trapp (yes, they’re the relatives of THE von Trapps) in the Mad River Valley of Vermont. "Oma" is the German word for “grandmother” and the cheese is named after Dan and Sebastian’s Oma, Erica von Trapp. Before starting Von Trapp Farmstead, Sebastian learned his craft by training with a number of artisan cheesemakers in England, as well as brothers Andy and Mateo Kehler of Jasper Hill Creamery, where the von Trapps now send their cheese for aging. Made with raw milk from their herd of mixed-breed cows (the majority being Jerseys), this washed-rind cheese is supple and luscious with a rich, meaty flavor.
Ossau-Iraty is produced widely in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques which are located in Southwest France. There are several Ossau-Iraty cheeses available in the United States and even though most are factory produced, they are all quite good. This one is a Fermier, or farmer’s cheese. It is made in small production at a high altitude from the richest milk and has very complex flavors of herbs, nuts, olives, oil and sweetness.
A nice Bordeaux and a handful of pears are all you need with this 4,000 year old classic recipe.
OK. Here’s the deal. If it doesn’t come from Emilia-Romagna, it aint the real stuff and there is a big difference (look for the stamp on the side). Arguably the world’s finest cheese. Beautifully crunchy flavors of butterscotch and ginger. By the way, this cheese is drained in a bag made from hemp. Please don’t buy this pre-grated, I will cry.
ReplacTry this with a Prosecco or Barolo. If you can find a nice, beefy California Merlot, do it.eText
Pecorino Crotonese is produced way at the Southern tip of Italy, in Calabria. Pecorino Crotonese is meaty and robust and has a flavor that falls somewhere between Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino Romano. The rind is always marked with lines from the wicker baskets the cheese is aged in. The taste is like salty cashews and sundried tomatoes.
Semi-sweet, semi sparkiling wines like Moscato d’Asti work very well with Crotoneses.
Pecorino Romano is usually from Sardinia although the original recipe was made in Rome about 2,000 years ago. Good Pecorino Romano should always be dry, fairly salty, and have the smooth, sweet taste of walnuts. Pecorino Romano can be shaved on any food in place of salt to liven up almost any dish.
As a table cheese, Pecorino Romano is best with spicier red wines like Chianti Classico or Spanish Tempranillo.
Picolo is another gem in our growing cache of delights from Soyoung Scanlan’s Andante Dairy in Petaluma, CA. This is a soft-ripened cow’s milk triple crème enriched with crème fraîche from Sadie Kendall of Kendall Farms. Unlike some commercially produced triple crèmes, Picolo does not taste like a stick of butter; while it is rich and buttery, there is a discernable earthy quality and a hint of acidity from the crème fraîche.
I love the pairing of Alsatian Cremant Blanc de Blancs with Picolo but if you must have red wine, Try a big Bordeaux and Picolo will soften up the tannin.
Only three time winner of Best in Show at the American Cheese Championship. This Beaufort style cheese is from Dodgeville, Wisconsin. Pungent, rich, fruity, Swiss flavors.
Drink with something soft, red and fruity like Beaujolais or California Merlot.
Pluvius is a raw milk American creation from southwest Washington State. Willapa Hills Farmstead Cheese is a family run operation which specializes in taking care of their animals. Most of their cheeses are sheep’s milk, but this cow’s milk creation is really nice. It’s a touch smelly but the flavor is mild, tangy, and grassy. A perfect choice for a cow’s milk cheese with a touch of funkiness that won’t send you running away screaming.
Try Pluvius with almost any beer or sweet white wine.
The name of this soft cow’s milk cheese translates as “the favorite from our mountains”. It is crafted in the French Alps in the region of Jura. The cheese is basically a milder version of the famed Reblochon de Savoie. Préféré de Nos Montagnes is delicious. The paste is very soft and creamy, with delicate flavors of milk and flowers.
I would like a delicate white like an Alsation Pinot Blanc with this delicate and delicious cheese.
Le Puits d’Astier (“Well of Astier”) is a very unique sheep’s milk cheese from Astier in southern France. The paste of the cheese is fairly soft and elastic with tiny little holes. The flavor reminds me of onions, butter, almonds, and lemon zest. Yum!!!
As far as beverages go, I would love any full-bodied white or a Rhone-style red.
Purple Haze is another creation of Mary Keehn of Humboldt Fog fame. Purple Haze is a mini round of goat cheese sprinkled with lavender (hence the name) and fennel pollen. The flavoring is very delicate and pretty and the cheese is very beautiful for display.
Try Purple Haze with a light, floral Semillon to highlight the lavender.
From the great pastures of Lombardy in the Italian Alps comes this rare and special cheese. The cheese is identical to the famous Taleggio of the same region, except for in one very important way. This cheese is made from 100% water buffalo milk. Water buffalo milk is higher in protein than cow’s milk and lower in cholesterol.
Try Quadrello with a big zinfandel or a Belgian ale.
Another creation of the Quicke family in Devon, England. The Oak-Smoked Cheddar is a well-flavoured mature cheddar 12-15 months in age and is specially selected to be naturally smoked for 3-4 hours over oak chips from the farm’s woodland. The wheels are cut into 1.5 Kg pieces prior to smoking as this ensures the flavor will infuse throughout the cheese. No artificial flavorings are added. This is the richest smoked cheese I have tasted.
Beer is best with strong flavors such as this but a massive and young Napa Cabernet will match the smoke too.
The Quicke Family in Devon, England has been in the Chedddar business for 450 years! Much in the tradition of many European cheesemakers, the Quicke’s feed the whey from the milk to their pigs and as a result, pork products derived from this farm are highly sought after. Their cattle are fed on fields of fresh clover which gives their cheeses a wonderful balance of herbal flavor with the cheeses natural richness. Quicke’s is a great way to get introduced to the flavor of traditional, clothbound, English farmhouse Cheddar without killing your pocketbook.
Quicke’s is so good with stout beer or any beefy red wine like California Cabernet.
Raclette is both the name of a cheese and a dish. The dish gets its name from the cheese that is used to make the dish. Confused? Me too. Raclette can be made in several regions and countries but I carry Raclette cheese from the Valais region of Southern Switzerland, bordering Italy and France. Raclette should be rich, salty, a little pungent, and above all, should melt evenly.
I think an ideal partner for Swiss Raclette is French Beaujolais but any fruity wine will do.
Ricotta Salata is a very popular and extremely sturdy cheese from Sicily. The name is quite misleading. Ricotta Salata is not really that salty and is not all made from whey like fresh Ricotta. Ricotta Salata is very smooth and milky. It is a great cheese to grate over fresh, uncooked fruits and vegetables or almost any pasta dish. I like Ricotta Salata as an upgrade from most Feta.
Because of the richness and smoothess, Ricotta Salata is very friendly with wine of all colors and types.
This Robiola is made by Luigi Guffanti in Piedmont, Italy. It’s a blend of cow, sheep, and goat’s milk. The flavor is creamy, with a tangy goaty bite, climbing to a buttery intensity in the finish. The texture is soft and spreadable. Very mild overall with a dense, meaty texture.
I like this Robiola with a mild piece of crusty bread and a nice Shiraz.
Roccolo (Lombardy, Italy) – Now this stuff really stinks!!! A raw farmstead cow’s milk cheese with a soft texture near the rind that gets slightly harder toward the core. A roccolo is a tall, cylindrical stone building for hunters in the valley d’Aosta in Lombardy. The cheese is known for its extraordinary complexity, in both flavor and aroma. Ripened on wooden boards in a cellar that is rich in molds, the rind develops a variety of colors and fragrances.
Try Roccolo with a big Italian wine like a Brunello di Montalcino.
Rogue River Blue is truly one of the world’s greatest blue cheeses. We are fortunate that it is made right here on the west coast. The cheese is made by Ignacio Vella of Vella Monterey Jack fame. Each wheel of this precious cheese is wrapped in grape leaves macerated in pear brandy. The cheese tastes of moist wood, pears and hazelnuts. This cheese was voted world’s best blue cheese at the 2003 World Cheese Championship in London.
Rogue River Blue is crazy good with Calvados or pear Brandy.
Wow! Seriously. Wow! This stuff is insane. One of the best ideas for cheesemaking I’ve ever seen. Smoked blue cheese?!?! Amazing. This local masterpiece is cold smoked for 16 hours over roasting hazelnut shells. The balance of the power of the blue cheese with the smoky nuttiness is really something special.
Try a nice Syrah or Cote du Rhone with Smokey Blue.
Very confusing name. This cheese is from Friesland, The Netherlands, and it’s fantastic. It’s basically very old Gouda. It is similar to Parmigiano but sweeter because, like Gouda, a lot of the salt and lactic acid gets washed off the cheese when it’s young. Roomano is a wonderful grating cheese but I like to just snack on the little crystals as they fall off the cheese.
Spicy, big supertuscans are great with Roomano or even some cidery German dessert wines.
Intensely strong and salty sheep’s milk blue cheese from the Roeurge. My personal favorite blue cheese. Brand is fairly important. I carry Carles, and it is definitely in my top four of the world’s greatest cheeses and top ten of the greatest food products.
A Sauternes will balance out the salt or a Champagne will complement it and do a little dance on your palate.
The Roves des Garrigues is produced from the milk of the native breed of goats from Provence, the Rove. This fresh young cheese is named after the breed as well as the vegetation of the Garrigues upon which these lovely does graze. The cheese is a gentle cheese, with a little lactic taste accented with the flavor of thyme, laurel, fennel, lavender and citronella – the Provençal garrigues – an ideal cheese for the warm weather months.
I love anything rosé with this delicate cheese.
Rush Creek is a brand spanking new American cheese made by Uplands Cheese, makers of the unbelievable Pleasant Ridge Reserve. Rush Creek is fashioned after the famed Vacherin Mont d’Or from Switzerland. The texture is oozy and silky, and the taste is rich, smelly and woodsy. Slice a disc off the top of it and spoon it over a fresh baguette, it’s fantastic.
Rush Creek screams out to me for hard cider. I have no idea why but it sounds like a great way to spend a cold night to me!
Ferme de Jouvence (Farm of rejuvenation) is located in the commune of La Boissière-École, in northern France near the famous palace of Versailles. The farm is completely self-sufficient in energy. They heat the dairy and offices with the wood from their trees, and they derive their electric power from the use of anaerobic digestion (that’s right, cow poop). Saint Foin is the mildest and most approachable of their cheeses. I find the flavor very milky and grassy with a slight mushroom finish.
Because of the mild and rich nature of Saint Foin, I would pair it with delicate wines like Sauvignon Blanc or something sparkling.
Saint-Marcellin is a beautiful little cheese made at the southern base of the French Alps. For you cheese geeks, St. Marcellin is basically a cow’s milk version of Banon without the chestnut leaves. St. Marcellin is very creamy, and can get powerfully nutty if you age it a touch.
Great with red Rhone or Rhone style blends like Chateauneuf-du-pape.
S?o Jorge is a beautiful Portuguese island in the Azores. Turn this over and take a look. The island is covered in craters and volcanoes. The ash from these volcanoes makes for some extremely fertile soil for their cows to graze on. The cheese is Cheddar style and intensely rich with a fairly sharp finish of smoke and caramel.
Try a nice, dry sherry or a big Cabernet with your São Jorge.
From way up in northern Switzerland near the German border lies the canton of Schafthousen, one of the most beautiful regions on earth (look at their cool flag above). This is the home of Scharfe Maxx. The flavor is clearly Alpine, but sharper than most and definitely kind of barnyardy but the unique aspect of this cheese is the addition of buttermilk to the curds which gives it an amazing richness.
Try a nice wheat beer or fruity red wine with Scharfe Maxx.
Seahive is another invention from Beehive Cheese Company in Ogden, Utah. This cheese is rubbed in local wildflower honey and Redmond sea salt. The salt comes from an ancient dry seabed in Utah; during the Jurassic period this part of the state was under an inland sea. I find it quite tangy with lingering sharpness and a touch of honeyed sweetness on the finish.
Across the Puget Sound from Seattle lies Mt. Townshend Creamery. They make several excellent cheeses at Mt. Townshend but their most famous is Seastack. Seastack is a young, soft cow’s milk cheese rolled in vegetable ash and salt. The result is a very creamy, rich, grassy cheese that goes well with everything.
My favorite wine is Moscato d’Asti with Seastack. The bubbles and sugar work magic on the richness and saltiness of the cheese.
Laval, France is most famous as the birthplace of Henri Rousseau. It is also the home of the sisters of Coudre Abbaye who have called upon the expertise of Pascal Beillvaire to revive an ancient cheese recipe made by their predecessors. Most cheese from this region is made from goat’s milk but not this one. It is a washed rind cow’s milk with a beautiful, smooth and fruity flavor. The milk is always raw and aged for about 10 weeks.
I think Secret is really beautiful and very wine friendly because of the fruitiness and richness. Anything from Burgundy is great.
Selles-sur-Cher is another star from Pascal Jacquin and family, in the Loire Valley. It is a little hockey puck of a cheese covered in vegetable ash. Very creamy and sharp when aged, with a real barnyard finish.
For white wine, a crisp Sauvignon Blanc is nice and for red, try a Cabernet Franc.
Sottocenere (literally, under ash) from Venice is one of the most fun cheeses I know. The cheese is flavored with shreds of real, Italian black truffles and the rind is a dusting of ingredients including ash, cinnamon and nutmeg. I usually dislike when cheesemakers mask the flavor of their cheese with outside ingredients but Sottocenere is a rich enough cheese to balance the truffles perfectly. I can’t think of a better cheese to melt over pasta.
Drink with big, Italian reds bud if you want to go nuts, shred this cheese along with Fontina d’Aosta and Pinot Grigio to make an unbelievable fondue.
Saint Agur is an extremely popular blue cheese from the Auvergne in central France. It is my most requested blue cheese, and I think I know why. St. Agur is an enriched cheese. This means that the butterfat content is raised during production to make the cheese moister and more buttery. St. Agur is always a hit at parties and is a great alternative to Gorgonzola.
Try St. Agur with a big, bold red like a Bordeaux or American Cabernet.
St. George is a Californian farmstead cheese by the way of Portugal. The Matos family relocated to Santa Rosa from the Azores Islands in the 1970s. They wanted to recreate the renowned cheese from their home island, São Jorge. St. George has cheddar-like qualities in its texture, richness and sharpness, plus a subtle hint of smokiness on the finish. We use St. George on our turkey sandwiches (be sure to try one next time!).
I like the idea of Rhone varietals or maybe bold Zinfandel.
About 50 miles south of Minneapolis in Faribault, MN, there are a network of sandstone caves where the only American blue cheeses that are exclusively aged in caves are found. St. Pete’s Select is the premium cheeses made at this facility. It is produced in small quantities and aged for a minimum of 100 days. The flavor is spicy, creamy and smooth with a nice, long finish.
I think a late harvest Gewurztraminer with all that sugar and spice is a perfect complement to St. Pete’s.
This wonderfully curdy and delicate ash coated “buche” from Wallonia in the south of Belgium is made using a similar recipe to its French cousin, albeit in a larger form. The cheese is made in Maffe, by the Cooperative Gros Chene, where they coax a wonderful grassy sweetness and lingering pleasant clover aftertaste out of the raw goat’s milk that they gather from specific producers year round.
Fantastic with Sauvignon Blanc and other light white wines.
Stichelton is definitely a throwback cheese. The recipe is a cooperation of an American Cheesemaker and Neal’s Yard Dairy in Covent Garden. They make this world class cheese on the North border of Sherwood Forest. Everything is hand made and the rind is even smoothed out with butter knives! All of the milk for Stichelton is raw and the texture is very creamy for an English blue. The flavors are undeniably English. Cool and buttery with underlying nutty toasty notes. There is a spicy element from the blue mold but alongside that is a long lasting savouriness and caramel-like sweetness. The layers of flavors expand and develop in your mouth as you eat and last long after swallowing.
Stinking Bishop is such a great name for a cheese. I wish I’d thought of it first. It was named after a Mr. Bishop who apparently was not very pleasant. He reputedly was so angry at his skillet for not heating fast enough, he shot it. Anyway, his relatives named the Stinking Bishop pear for him and this cheese is washed in pear brandy (Perry) from these pears. The flavor is actually very easy and mild despite the nasty aroma.
Try a little Calvados, Perry, or ale with this stinker from Gloucestershire.
Way up in the Tain of the Scottish Highlands resides Ruaraidh (pronounced Rory) Stone. He purchases his milk from a tiny cooperative of six local farmers. The cheese is very unique for something from this part of the world. The cheese is very mild for a blue. The texture is wet, rich and creamy. The flavor is delicate at first and finishes with an almost smoky and sweet lingering tang.
Strathdon is another very versatile beverage partner. I think a late harvest Gewurztraminer would be fun but you can’t really go wrong because this cheese is so rich, salty and mild.
Taleggio is another ancient and famous Italian cheese. It is made in the valley of Tallegio in Lombardy. There are unfortunately some inferior large production Taleggios making their way into The United States. The Taleggio I carry is much stronger and beefier than what you will find elsewhere. Although the smell is powerful, the milk is extremely rich and actually tastes fairly sweet. Try not to eat the rind on this cheese. It can get very grimy, bitter and dirty.
Any big Italian red goes perfectly with Taleggio. Even a nice, gritty California Zinfandel will work.
Testun refers to the shape of this unique cheese from Piedmont. Piedmont is also the home of that classic expression of the Nebbiolo grape, Barolo. The cheese is aged inside a Barolo cask and coated with the sediment (grape leaves, pits and stems) from the fermentation barrel. You will also find some residue of the tartaric acid, leftover from the fermentation, on the rind of the cheese. The flavour is bold, tangy, and of course a little grapey?
I guess I don’t need to mention that this cheese is best with huge, Northern Italian wines and varietals.
“The name Ticklemore, however poetic it may sound, is actually due to a misspelled street name. Robin Congdon once explained it as: ‘The cheese is named after Ticklemore Street and Ticklemore Street used to be called Picklemore Street. A picklemore is a hard track of land lying in swampy marsh. We have one here in Totnes. Somebody messed up and replaced the P with a T.’ Ticklemore has delicate, floral, lactic flavours with a coolness that reminds us of ice-cream. Its texture is crumbly, moist and succulent.” – Neal’s Yard Dairy
I like Ticklemore with fruity red wines like light California Pinot Noirs or Beaujolais.
Made by monks nearby the Carnac Megaliths shown here (near Brittany), Timanoix is washed in walnut liqueur. Tastes like dessert with walnuts and chocolate. Sip a little Frangelico with this and experience some sin!
Tomme Brulée is a raw sheep’s milk cheese produced at the foot of the Baigura Mountain in the heart of the “humped” and fertile Basque region, tucked into the far southwestern corner of France near the Spanish border. The rind is burnt which gives the rind some obvious burn marks and increases the complexity of flavour. The flavour is smooth, oily, nutty and roasty. Tomme Brulée is a rare find in the United States and is one of the best and most interesting sheep cheeses that you will ever have the opportunity to taste.
I like wines like French Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon with this special cheese.
Tomme Dolce is one of many extremely small production cheeses from Andante dairy in Petaluma, CA. Soyoung Scanlan, the cheesemaker, creates a variety of handmade artisan dairy products with musical names. Tomme Dolce is made from goat’s milk and the cheese is given a bath of brandy and plum jam which is where the smell comes from. The flavors are fruity with hints of honey, cinnamon, cloves and anise.
Tomme Dolce pairs perfectly with very fruity reds like Beaujolais or Brachetto.
OK. This stuff is fantastic and fantastically confusing. It was invented by two brothers. One had a goat dairy in Provence and the other had sheep in Corsica. They combined their resources to make this unique cheese. Now the cheese is produced in Sardinia, shipped to Corsica, then on to Provence for the aging which is overseen by world famous affineur, Herve Mons. Just eat it, it rocks!
This is one of those cheeses that I want to drink something I can taste with. I’m thinking of a Belgian-style ale or a big Northern Rhone wine.
Andante Dairy’s Trio is indeed a trio of cow and goat’s milk enriched with Kendall Farms crème fraîche. This decadent triple crème should please all palates with its buttery richness and supple texture balanced with the tanginess of goat’s milk and crème fraîche.
Trio could pair with dry sparklers or Kabinett Riesling to compliment the acidity from the goat’s milk and crème fraîche.
Way in the Northeast corner of Spain in the province of Aragón is where you find Tronchon. Shaped like a volcano, Tronchon is a very mild, herbal and sweet mixture of sheep and goat’s milk. I don’t think any other cheese tastes quite like Tronchon and I haven’t met anyone who does not like it.
I think Spanish Cava or Italian Prosecco is the way to go with this creamy, sweet cheese.
Truffette is a beautiful and tiny goat’s milk cheese from the picturesque region of Périgord, in southwestern France. Périgord is more famous for their truffles and you will find flecks of black winter truffles throughout this delightful little Hershey’s Kiss shaped cheese. The flavor is clean and crisp with a nice earthiness from the truffle.
I like nice, crisp whites like any Muscadelle or Sauvignon Blanc from Bergerac in southwestern France.
Another gorgeous cheese from Piedmont. They have the most astounding selection of beautiful cheeses from this region. Tumin Rutulin is a very soft, fresh cheese made from pasteurized goat’s milk in Northwest Italy. Pillowy-soft in texture, this cheese is aged for a minimum of four weeks and is rolled in Juniper ash. This is a fantastic cheese. Not your typical goat’s milk at all. I find the flavor very rustic, herbal and rich.
Try something white, big, and acidic like a Jurancon Sec from Cahors with this Italian specialty.
Vacherin Mont d’Or is in my opinion one of the finest achievements of human civilization. Made from raw milk high in the Swiss Alps near Franche-Comte, this cheese is only made from precious high altitude winter milk and lovingly wrapped in the bark of a Spruce tree. The flavor is incredible. Scrambled eggs, butter and wood. Yum!!!
Think of Valdeón as Cabrales’ younger brother. Valdeón is a very creamy, powerful blue cheese from Castile-Le?n in central Spain. Although Valdeón always seems to take a back seat to Cabrales, in 2003 it was voted Spain’s best blue cheese. The sycamore leaves really add to the striking beauty of this meaty blue.
Valdeón is really meant for honey or Muscat but I also like it with very dark vintage port.
Valençay is another star from Pierre Jacquin and family, in the Loire Valley (Touraine). The legend is that Valençay used to be a complete pyramid until Napoleon in a fit of rage lopped off the top with a saber. Now it looks like a truncated pyramid coated with dark, vegetable ash. The cheese is very creamy and sharp when aged, with a real barnyard finish. Chalky, mineral and pleasant when young.
For white wine, a Sancerre is perfect and for red, try a Cabernet Franc.
This Vendee cheese is aged to perfection in an old railroad tunnel no longer in service. The result is a fantastic dense ivory colored paste with a mineral and earthen flavor. The thick rustic natural rind imparts many other subtle flavors of the terroir that pass pleasantly through this sturdy semi-firm cow’s milk tomme. This is a rare and exceptional example of cheese from the Loire.
I can honestly say that Vermont Shepherd is one of the world’s greatest sheep’s milk cheeses. It’s right up there with Berkswell (England) and all the great French and Spanish Basque cheeses. Very herbaceous, oily, nutty, sweet and creamy. Eat this and try and tell me that Americans don’t make great cheese!
I carry a mulled wine jelly that should be illegal with Vermont Shepherd. For wine, I love really jammy, extracted California Pinot Noir.
Best in Show, American Cheese Championship, 1995. A true American classic from Kentuckiana. That’s right, you heard me. Right on the border of Kentucky and Indiana is Capriole dairy and it is one of the best and most famous goat cheese houses in the USA. My opinion is that the quality has steadily improved since then. Very delicate, chalky and elegant for a Chevre, and I find it beautiful on a cheese board.
The rule of thumb with a cheese like this is light, fruity stuff like Sauvignon Blanc but do yourself a favor and try a little down home Kentucky Bourbon with it and have good time!
20-some miles north of Worcester, rests Westfield Farm. Among rolling the green hills, clear blue skies, and fresh air of western Massachusetts, the Westfield goats and cows graze and frolic. Debbie and Bob Stetson left their previous careers as shipping professionals and took over the already working Westfield Farm from Letty and Bob Kilmoyer. After one month of rigorous training, the Stetsons stepped into the Kilmoyers’ shoes and proceeded to carry on the Kilmoyers’ tradition of producing artisanal, hand-made cheeses. In this singular goat cheese, Westfield Farm uses real wasabi from the rhizome of the wasabi plant.
This Vermont cheese is made from the organic milk of the rare and beautiful Dutch Belted cattle. The cheese is made on the campus of Middlebury college and aged in the famous caves of Jasper Hill Farm (we carry several of these cheeses). The flavor is rich, citrus, and earthy. I think it is one of America’s unknown treasures in cheese.
Although it’s almost cheating, a full-bodied sparkler should compliment this one nicely.
If you take the 10 from Lincoln and head out towards Arizona, take a right in Hemet and go south towards San Diego, you will find Jules Wesselink who moved here from Haarlem, The Netherlands and he makes Gouda just like they make on the farms in his hometown. The Super Aged does not taste like anything from a factory. It is very, very sharp with delicious little chunks of crystallized salt and protein.
If you must have red wine with this cheese, make it a monster like an Amarone. It’s way too overpowering for anything less.
Made by two brothers way up in Northeast Vermont, very close to Canada. Winnimere is one of the smallest production cheeses you will ever find. It is in my opinion the best cheese made by Jasper Hill Farm and it is severely allocated. The milk is raw and seasonal (winter only). The flavor is rich, woody, and mushroomy with a definite meaty finish. I think Winnimere is bound to be considered one of America’s greatest cheese masterpieces. Get it while you can. It doesn’t stay around long!
Try a big Zin or Belgian ale (the cheese is washed in this).
Wynendale is made in western Belgium near the castle of Wynendale. The castle Wynendale is still occupied and is one of the only castles in the world that actually has a moat! Wynendale the cheese is very smelly, but its bark is worse than its bite. The flavor is rich and dense but extremely smooth and fruity.
Try a nice fruity Pinot or Beaujolais with Wynendale.
Zamorano is one of the cheeses that I prefer to carry over most Manchego (Roncal is the other). Zamorano is the real deal. Raw sheep’s milk cheese from Northwestern Castile-Leon, right on the border of Portugal, Zamorano is packed with flavor. Beautiful flavors of sheep’s milk with notes of green olives. Zamorano is always richer than most other sheep’s milk cheeses because of the concentrated milk of the Churra and Castlian sheep.
Zamorano really calls for a rich, earthy wine like a Rioja or Zinfandel.
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