Eponymously named Chapel Hill Creamery is located near Chapel Hill in North Carolina and is home to Portia McKnight and Flo Hawley together with their small herd of Jersey cows.
Hawley and McKnight had each enjoyed long careers at Whole Foods Market and decided they wanted to get closer to the source of the food that they had sold. In the process of searching for a good milk source in order to begin making cheese, they found that they were unable to get the quality that they wanted. So, the decision was made to buy a small herd of Jersey cows and a 37-acre farm to ensure that the cows could be pasture-fed. Thus was born Chapel Hill Creamery and, in July of 2000, the first batch of cheese was produced.
Today, Portia and Flo focus on the health of their herd of 30 cows as much as the quality of the cheese that they produce. Rotational grazing is practiced on the farm and they limit milking to March through December. The results are hard to argue with, three World Jersey Cheese Awards in 2012.
Named after the Baptist church at the end of their street, Hickory Grove is a raw Trappist style cow’s milk cheese. It has a deep ochre rind covering the rich yellow paste. It has a slightly pliant texture with a toothsome snap. The rounded buttery flavors develop more complexity as the paste lingers on the tongue.
Given that this is a Trappist style cheese, the best pairing is a good Trappist-style Ale or Cider. Serve the cheese with some sliced apples for a bright contrast. This is a wonderful cheese for melting, whether it be on burgers, or in Mac n’ Cheese.