RE­DEFIN­ING AMER­I­CAN CHEESE, ONE SLICE AT A TIME

SAVEUR - - 25th Anniversar­y -

In April 2005, I was a col­lege se­nior con­tem­plat­ing an ad­vanced de­gree in li­brary sci­ence and book con­ser­va­tion, even though what I re­ally loved was cook­ing and work­ing part-time at a lo­cal cheese shop in Welles­ley, Mas­sachusetts. Then, Saveur pub­lished a spe­cial is­sue de­voted to ar­ti­sanal Amer­i­can cheeses. Five months later, I en­rolled in culi­nary school. To­day, these nine cheese­mak­ers, all cov­ered in that is­sue, still thrill me. —Kat Craddock, Test Kitchen Di­rec­tor (Un­less oth­er­wise noted, all rec­om­men­da­tions are avail­able at mur­rayscheese.com.)

1. Bell­wether Farms

This Pe­taluma, Cal­i­for­nia, oper­a­tion was the state’s first sheep’s-milk dairy, but the Cal­la­han fam­ily sources the milk for this fluffy ri­cotta from lo­cal Jersey cows. $10, 12 oz.

2. Up­lands Cheese Com­pany

Up­lands’ founders re­tired five years ago, leav­ing their Wis­con­sin busi­ness in the ca­pa­ble hands of ap­pren­tices Andy Hatch and Scott Mer­icka. The brand’s Pleas­ant Ridge Re­serve, an Alpine-style farm­stead cheese, is as nutty and com­plex as ever. $40, 1 lb.

3. Ver­mont Cream­ery

Pair this skim-milk-based, Bre­ton-style fro­mage blanc with honey, fruit, or muesli for a de­li­cious break­fast or light dessert. $7, 8 oz.

4. Jasper Hill Farm

Ver­mont cheese­mak­ers Andy and Ma­teo Kehler achieved in­ter­na­tional ac­claim for their Stilton-style Bay­ley Hazen Blue—once served dur­ing a White House din­ner for for­mer French pres­i­dent Hol­lande. $35, 1 lb.

5. Cow­girl Cream­ery

Stinky little Red Hawk has been rack­ing up awards since its re­lease. Although founders Sue Con­ley and Peggy Smith re­cently sold Cow­girl to Swiss dairy gi­ant Emmi, they re­main in­volved with the beloved Bay Area brand. $15, 10 oz.; cow­girl­cream­ery.com

6. Great Hill Dairy

This Mas­sachusetts farm makes only one cheese, and boy, is it a beaut! Pep­pery and bright, Great Hill Blue begs to be eaten with Port and ripe pears. $25, 1 lb.

7. Capri­ole Goat Cheese

One of the moth­ers of mod­ern Amer­i­can cheese, In­di­ana’s Judy Shad ages her goat cheese, O’bannon, in chest­nut leaves that’ve been soaked in Wood­ford Re­serve. $23, 6 oz.

8. Cy­press Grove

Hum­boldt Fog has be­come a cheese­mon­ger cliché—for good rea­son. That line of veg­etable ash and a gooey ex­te­rior that ex­tends inward as the wheel ripens add up to a treat for the eyes and the palate. $40, 1 lb.

9. Laura Chenel

The OG Amer­i­can goat-cheese queen, Chenel sup­plied the chèvre for that Chez Panisse salad. She’s sold the farm, but the brand still makes waves. This tangy, ashedrind Buchette has won mul­ti­ple awards. $8.99, 5 oz.; mar­in­frenchchee­se.com

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