November 7 – 13
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. Charmoix 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.
October 3 – 9
Landaff is our first cheese from the state of New Hampshire. This cow’s milk cheese is based on a Welsh recipe and aged in the cellars of Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont. The flavor is of tangy lemon curd up front with a warm finish of buttermilk of wood. Landaff is one of the new wave of small production American raw milk cheeses that has grabbed my attention in a big way.
Landaff is a pretty easy wine cheese except I would be careful to pair it with anything too tannic because of all the acidity.
Caciocavallo di Bufala
September 26 – October 2
Caciocavallo is made in much the same way as mozzarella. This cheese, made by two brothers in Lombardy is a big, bowling ball looking thing with a gorgeous rind due to the aging. The twist on this one is the use of water buffalo milk. Two of these are tied to either end of a rope and the result is hung to dry on a hook. The flavor is like a creamy, tangy provolone.
September 19 – 25
Hidden Springs Farm perches atop a beautiful green ridge in the heart of the Coulee on the patchwork terrain of Wisconsin’s “Driftless Area” (the area that the glacier skipped). Brenda and Dean Jensen milk a herd of about 100 Lacaune and East Friesian sheep. In keeping with their sustainable financial and environmental vision, they employ Amish neighbors for milking and construction, use Percheron draft horses – not tractors – to plow their fields and use donkeys to keep coyotes and other predators away from their lambs.
This mountain style raw sheep milk cheese is named after the range on which the animals graze seasonally. Aged 3-4 months, it has a natural rind that is washed during aging to promote an intense flavor and a firm, tight texture with tiny eyes. It is slightly granular on the pallet with a nutty flavor that lingers.
Rogue River Blue
September 5 – 18
The much anticipated Rogue River Blue has finally arrived!
This hand-crafted raw cow’s milk blue veined cheese develops a beautiful natural rind as a result of hand turning and tending the cheese several times a week.
The wheels are aged for up to a year in our special rooms which were constructed to simulate the ancient caves in Roquefort, France. This aging process imparts into the cheese naturally occurring molds that we consider to be our signature Rogue River Valley Terroir.
The flavors of our terroir include hints of sweet woodsy pine, wild ripened berries, hazelnuts, morels and pears. To preserve this cheese we hand wrap each wheel in grape leaves harvested from Carpenter Hill Vineyards in the Rogue River Valley. These leaves have been macerated in Clear Creek’s Pear Brandy and tied with raffia. The grape leaves add additional complexity to the terroir driven flavors of the cheese and preserve its moist creamy texture.
August 29 – September 4
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.
August 22 – 28
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.
August 15 – 21
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.
August 8 – 14
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.
August 1 – 7
“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.
July 25 – 31
Roelli Cheese Haus was founded in Shullsburg, Wisconsin, way down near the Illinois border, almost 100 years ago by a Swiss cheese-maker. The cheeses are still made by Adolph Roelli’s descendants in the same location. They used to produce commodity cheeses but have recently switched to a more artisan style. Dunbarton Blue is their flagship cheese and it’s fantastic! It’s a pressed blue cheese which explains the lighter veining and the rich flavors. Think of a combination of Cheddar and blue.
Because of the richness and power, this product stands up nicely to bold, rich reds like Zinfandel and Syrah but I’ll take a Scotch ale with this bad boy any day!
July 18 – 24
From way up in northern Switzerland near the German border lies the canton of Schafthousen, one of the most beautiful regions on earth. 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.
July 11 – 17
This small production Swiss specialty is aged for 6 months in a decommissioned anti-Nazi machine gun bunker! The cheese tastes sweet and grassy, with a somewhat squeaky texture that takes it time breaking down in between your teeth. While the rind can emit some strong smells, the cheese remains pleasantly mild with hints of barely burnt sugar in the finish.
Try this rare beauty with a dry Gewurztraminer or a young Cabernet Franc.
July 4 – 10
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.
Carré du Poitou
June 27 – July 3
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.
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Santa Monica, CA 90403 (Google Map)
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Saturday 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Sunday 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM
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- February 24th Grilled Cheese & Beer Night!
- February 10th Grilled Cheese & Beer Night!
- February 17th Grilled Cheese & Beer Night!
- March 17th Cheese 101 Course!
- January 21st Grilled Cheese & Beer Night!