Best Artisanal Cheese
The Washtenaw, Zingerman’s Creamery; Ann Arbor, MI
Creamy on the inside and stinky-in-a-good-way on the outside, this cheese is a perfect match for a Belgian style beer or an aromatic white like Riesling or Gewurtztraminer. Eat it with bread or, if you’re feeling adventurous, toss a few slices in your favorite cheese-y dish for next-level risotto, mac & cheese, or even polenta. $15.99/7 oz, Available by special order at http://www.zingermans.com/
Idyll Farms, Mont Idyll; Northport, MI
Inspired by the pyramidal French classic Valençay, this ash covered goat cheese is named for a hill (or “mont”) on the Idyll Farms land that overlooks Lake Michigan. Its creamy texture and characteristic goat-y tang goes well with crisp whites like Chablis, Sancerre, or, if you’re in the mood to celebrate, Champagne. $15/piece, Available by special order by emailing email@example.com
Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine; Cheese 101 Box; Chicago, IL
If you love cheese but fear limiting yourself to just one, check out a curated cheese box from Pastoral. The thoughtfully chosen selections include some of the finest artisanal cheeses in the country, along with equally delicious accompaniments like Tart Cherry & White Tea Preserves from Quince & Apple in Wisconsin, and Single Source Honey from Ames Farm in Minnesota. $89.99 – $203.98, http://www.pastoralartisan.com/
Glendale Shepherd, Island Brebis; Whidbey Island, WA
This semi-firm tomme style cheese is made with rich sheep’s milk from the Swanson family’s farm. It’s aged for up to a year, which gives it a sweet, nutty flavor that pairs well with IPA’s and hard ciders, but could also stand up to a lighter red like Pinot Noir or Gamay. $38.95/lb, available at specialty shops in Seattle, Port Townsend and Whidbey Island.
Jasper Hill Harbison; Vermont
When young, this cheese is wrapped in spruce bark and left to ripen to a spoonable creaminess. The luscious texture is matched perfectly by the equally luscious, lemony taste. To serve, just slice off the top of the rind, with the bark still holding the soft cheese in place—it’s literally that creamy! $26.25; mouth.com.
Chaseholm Farm Moonlight Chaource; New York
Not to be confused with its French namesake, this New York state Chaource is one of the most delicious cheeses I’ve ever had. It’s shaped like a log, with a light vegetable-ash coating and a bloomy rind. It’s a farmstead cheese, meaning that the milk used came directly from the farm where it’s made. Rich and almost double-cream creamy with a mild tang, this cheese tastes like it’s made from the best milk on earth. $10; chaseholmfarmcreamery.com.
Shy Brothers Farm Cloumage; Massachusetts
A new chefs’ darling, we’ll be seeing this Massachusetts cheese on more and more menus in the near future as it’s so delicious and versatile. Cloumage is a fresh cheese, creamy and rich tasting, with a characteristic tang and a deeper flavor than any fresh cheese I’ve ever had. Lighter and much more interesting than sour cream, you can do almost anything with it: Eat it right out of the container on crackers or use it to enrich a sauce, as it doesn’t break. From $12; shybrothersfarm.com.
Maplebrook Farm Burrata and Burratini; Vermont
A super milky, sweet burrata filled, as it always is, with finely shredded mozzarella (stracciatella) and cream. The thing that’s so great about the burratini is that it’s perfect for one serving, since slicing burrata is always a bit dicey because the center spills out. $12.99/8 oz.; maplebrookvt.com. Available at Whole Foods and Murray’s Cheese.
Big Picture Farm Sonnet and Haiku; Vermont
These cave-aged, earthy tommes are the newest additions at Big Picture. The farm, known for its tangy goat milk caramels, is now making small batches of cheese with the abundance of fresh milk. While the wheels of goat cheese are aging, they are washed with Boyden Valley white wine for added flavor. Enjoy on a slab of homemade bread, or sub for other hard cheeses in gratins, pasta or gougères. $30 to $142; bigpicturefarm.com.
Taylor Farm Farmstead Gouda; Vermont
The perfect breakfast cheese, this Vermont farmstead Gouda is young and mild, but very richly flavored. It also makes a killer grilled cheese sandwich and is great in mac and cheese. $16.00/1 lb. wedge; taylorfarmvt.com
Consider Bardwell Farm Dorset; Vermont
Another artisanal Vermont cheese, this one named for the town of Dorset. Soft ripened and on the stronger, more pungent side, it’s made from the buttery milk of Jersey cows. $29.99/lb.; murrayscheese.com.
Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese Ted Cheese; Kentucky
It’s not just the name that I love here! This big and handsome Kentucky farmstead cave-aged cheese has a deep, deep cheddar flavor that gets even richer as you get close to the natural rind. $7.10/8 oz.; kennyscheese.com.
Plymouth Cheese Big Blue; Vermont
This dense, creamy blue has a bold taste that deepens as it ages. Try it in a soufflé or simply drizzled with a floral honey. $20/lb.; plymouthartisancheese.com.