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Best Cheeses 2019: Cow’s Milk Cheese


Photographed by Nina Gallant; Styled by Erin Riley

Almnäs Tegel

ALMNÄS BRUK

HJO, SWEDEN

“Tegel” means “brick” in Swedish—a fitting name for a cheese produced in massive blocks weighing between 57 and 59 pounds. A saltwater wash leads to the rustic, red hue of the rind, which encases a firm, smooth paste with a fruity aroma. The cow’s milk curds are scorched during the final step of the cheesemaking process (unusual in Swedish cheese production), yielding a slightly grainy texture and butterscotch-like flavor as the Tegel ages for nearly two years. Each slab of cheese also displays the small imprint of a child’s foot, reminiscent of the clay bricks manufactured at Almnäs hundreds of years ago, over which local children delighted in running as the clay dried slowly in the sun.


Thorbjørnrud Raclette

THORBJØRNRUD HOTELL

JEVNAKER, NORWAY

It’s not every hotelier who would turn a disused swimming pool into a cheesemaking facility, but then again, most hotel properties aren’t producing high-quality local foods alongside their accommodations. Thorbjørnrud attributes the award-winning success of their creamy, slightly nutty, ultra-melty raclette to the exceptional milk collected from their cows who wile away the days grazing on the Norwegian landscape. While raclette is traditionally served melted, lush notes of terroir come through in a mild but long-lasting finish that make this tasty cheese worth nibbling on in its solid state, too.


Andre Excellent

ANDRE JUUSTUFARM

TARTU COUNTY, ESTONIA

Racking up numerous honors since 2016, the cheeses produced at Andre Farm are the first Estonian food products to garner international recognition. The 18-month aged Andre Excellent is a robust, Gouda-style cheese with notes of leather, bits of crunchy crystallization, and a creamy finish that helped it earn the title of Best Eastern & Central European Cheese at the 2018 World Cheese Awards.


CacioCavallo Silano

POSTICCHIA SABELLI

LAVELLO, ITALY

This teardrop-shaped cheese is a hallmark of southern Italy, ancient in its origins and highly protected today. Since 1996 Caciocavallo Silano has carried a PDO status (Protected Denomination of Origin) and cheesemakers in this region adhere to strict regulations. Posticchia Sabelli credits their pure, high-quality milk for the salty, creamy, lightly spicy taste of their prized Caciocavallo.


Parmigiano-Reggiano

LATTERIA SOCIALE RONCADELLA

RONCADELLA , ITALY

Parmesan needs little introduction, and the fruity, crystalline wheels produced at Latteria Sociale Roncadella are an exquisite example of this beloved cheese. Both the 18- and 24-month aged versions have earned medals in international competitions, and the Roncadella cooperative is unique in that it is the only Parmigiano-Reggiano dairy with a woman, named Marisa Verzelloni, serving as master cheesemaker.


Scamorza

THE MOZZARELLA COMPANY

DALLAS, TEXAS

This semi-soft cow’s milk nugget from Texas is exactly what we crave when only a comfort cheese will do. Tangy and tender, mellow and meltable, this young pasta filata-style cheese is like a grown-up string cheese. Whether plain or delicately smoked over pecan shells, this mild, American Cheese Society award-winning cheese shines with pure simplicity.

Whether plain or delicately smoked over pecan shells, this mild, American Cheese Society award-winning cheese shines with pure simplicity.


Everton

JACOBS & BRICHFORD

CONNERSVILLE, IND.

100% grass-fed raw cow’s milk goes into this golden yellow, Alpine-style cheese from the J&B family farm in southeast Indiana. Aged 8 to 18 months, it’s pliable when young and develops a delightful crystalline texture as it matures. The flavor dances between bright and savory, with notes of cured meats, roasted nuts, pineapple, and butter fried dough.


Mature Whole Blue Stilton

CROPWELL BISHOP CREAMERY

NOTTINGHAM, UK

Third-generation Stilton producers, the Skailes family of Cropwell Bishop Creamery, employ traditional hand-cutting and hand-ladling techniques to ensure a steady supply of awards for their PDO-protected blue. Their Stilton, which won a Super Gold at the recent World Cheese Awards, is fudgy and savory and shot through with mellow blue spice.


Mad River Blue

VON TRAPP FARMSTEAD

WAITSFIELD, VT.

Hailing from a third-generation farmstead nestled in Vermont’s Mad River Valley, this pasteurized cow’s milk blue is buttery, salty-sweet, and grassy with a gentle bite. Young wheels are pierced to allow growth of Penicillium roqueforti, then aged for about three months until semi-soft, developing a natural rind—you can almost taste the Alpine air.


Bath Soft Cheese

THE  BATH SOFT CHEESE CO.

KELSTON-NEAR-BATH, UK

Bath Soft Cheese’s eponymous brie-style cheese scooped a double win this year: Supreme Champion at both the International Cheese Awards and the Artisan Cheese Awards. Made from a centuries-old recipe, this unusually square, bloomy-rind cheese has a silken yellow paste offering dairy and mushroom notes with a sweetly floral nose.


Thelma’s Original Caerffili

CAWS CENARTH

BONCATHY, UK

From Wales’ oldest established farmhouse Caerffili makers, Thelma’s Original Caerffili—named for founder Thelma Adams—is a rich example of its kind. Aged for a minimum of four weeks, its moist yellow paste is buttery with lemon undercurrents, while a blue tang is supplied by the velvety gray rind.


Red Leicester

JOSEPH HELER

NANTWICH, UK

A demure cheddar-like territorial that—depending on who you ask—is either dwindling into non-existence or enjoying a renaissance, Joseph Heler has nevertheless found demand (and awards) for its Red Leicester for over two decades. This more mature example is crumbly in texture and smooth in flavor, with hints of citrus and hazelnut.


Smoked Burrata

CALABRO CHEESE CORP.

EAST HAVEN, CT.

Winner of Best in Class at the 2019 US Cheese Championship Contest (in the Smoked Soft and Semi-Soft categories), Calabro Cheese Corp. made good with this lightly smoked alternative to their classic stretched-curd burrata. Clean, buttery, and golden with notes of campfire and fall evenings.


Reverie

PARISH HILL CREAMERY

WESTMINSTER, VT.

If there was ever a cheese made to go with a hoppy IPA, this would be it. Reverie is a traditional, semi-hard Toma with bright milky notes and a peppery tang on the finish, perfect for a crisp fall day. Wild molds are encouraged to grow while the cheese ages for up to five months, resulting in a rind that resembles gray stone.


Edmund Tew

BLACKWOODS CHEESE COMPANY/NEAL’S YARD DAIRY

CHIDDINGSTONE, UK

A brine-washed Langres-style, Edmund Tew is an unpasteurized, Geotrichum-etched dumpling of a cheese proffering malty notes on the rind alongside a fresh, lactic interior. A former Supreme Champion at the Artisan CheeseAwards, Edmund Tew is named for a British cheese thief who was condemned to Australia for his crimes in the 1800s.


Little Rollright

KING STONE DAIRY

CHEDWORTH, UK

A mix between a Vacherin-style and a Reblochon, Little Rollright is brine-washed several times over four weeks’ time to achieve its attractive mottled frosting of peach and white cultures.  Suitably decadent and creamy while young, it becomes punchy as it matures, the band of spruce imparting smoke and pine notes into the liquefying core.


Appalachian

MEADOW CREEK DAIRY

GALAX, VA.

Meadow Creek Dairy made a name for themselves by adding a local twist to traditional European recipes. Their first cheese, Appalachian, exemplifies their mission to create cheeses that express their geographic roots. This cow’s milk cheese is aged a minimum of 90 days, which gives the already creamy curds a hint of lemon alongside notes of mushroom.


Stracciatella

BELGIOIOSO CHEESE

GREEN BAY, WIS.

Imagine turning a sphere of burrata inside out and spooning the luscious contents over berries, grilled bread, or pasta. This family-owned company has made that dream a reality, utilizing local milk for their “shreds of fresh mozzarella soaked in sweet cream,” which come packed in convenient eight-ounce containers. We dare you not to eat it straight out of the container.


Original Blue

POINT REYES FARMSTEAD CHEESE COMPANY

POINT REYES STATION, CALIF.

A favorite among national competitions for its versatility and bold yet accessible profile, Original Blue has been made with the highest quality raw cow’s milk on Point Reyes’ family-run farm since 2000. Vibrant ribbons of blue-green mold run through the distinctly creamy and white paste for a punch of classically sharp and peppery notes balanced with milky sweetness.

+ PAIR IT:

California-based Lagunitas Brewing Company favors Original Blue with their malt-forward Hairy Eyeball and Imperial Stout.


Winnimere

CELLARS AT JASPER HILL

GREENSBORO, VT.

When you can’t see the forest for the cheese, you might just be looking at a wheel of Winnimere. Produced only from November to April, this velvety washed-rind Jasper Hill concoction is wrapped in spruce bark and aged for two months, yielding a woodsy, savory, runny delight.


Pleasant Ridge Reserve Extra Aged

UPLANDS CHEESE

DODGEVILLE, WIS.

The aged version of this Alpine-style from acclaimed cheesemaker Andy Hatch is the only cheese to have ever won the American Cheese Society Best of Show three times (in 2001, 2005, 2010), as well as the only cheese to win that distinction at both the US Cheese Championship (2003) and ACS competitions. A minimum of 15 months in the cave gives it a fudgy texture, abundant crystallization, and well-developed notes of meat broth and caramelized tropical fruit that harmonize with the sweet, grassy summer milk.


Stockinghall

OLD CHATHAM CREAMERY/MURRAY’S CHEESE

GROTON, N.Y.

There must be something in the milk at Old Chatham Creamery, the folks behind ACS 2019’s First and Second Place Best of Show winners. This exceptionally nutty cheddar took top honors, with its crunchy boardwalk-fudge paste that cleaves into snackable pieces like rocks tumbling down a cliff. Old Chatham crafts Stockinghall upstate, then sends week-old wheels to Murray’s Manhattan caves, where they’re wrapped in cloth, rubbed with lard, and aged into paragons.


 

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