The Best of Zingerman's Creamery on Opening Day | culture: the word on cheese
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The Best of Zingerman’s Creamery on Opening Day

After eight months of renovation, a $1 million investment, and the birth of twins (congratulations Managing Partner Aubrey Thomason!), Zingerman’s Creamery and its new storefront, Cream Top Shop, is now officially open for your dairying pleasure. The opening marks a turning point as the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based creamery solidifies itself as a national brand with top-notch production capabilities. It’s a well-deserved reward for staff who have put years of meticulous planning into this vision (and who have been bunking with the Michigan State University’s Dairy Plant during construction!).

“This has been five years in the making,” says Thomason. “It’s been a lot of work to figure out what the right direction was. We made sure to dig deep, write a long-term vision and really identify what the identity was and who we wanted the shop to be. We want it to be a showcase for the food we make; the sandwiches are reflective of the combinations that suit our cheeses really well and really pushing the American artisan scene.”

A collection of Zingerman’s Creamery cheeses in their early days out of the vat

At the Cream Top Shop you can partake in a tasting menu of Zingerman’s goodies starting with a personalized Zingerman’s and American artisan cheese plate. It moves on to toasted panini highlighting their wares, and ends with seasonal gelato flavors and infusions. While sampling, peer into the production space from your seat to watch the make process of the same lactic acid set bloomies you’re devouring. Soon, the shop will be hosting regular pairings, tastings, and tours so you can get your own behind-the-scenes look at Zingerman’s cheeses.

Culture attended the opening on Saturday, April 29, and chatted with the staff to get their personal recommendations on what to try on your next visit to the Cream Top Shop.


Tessie Ives-Wilson describes enticing flavors while working the cut-and-wrap station 

“The go-to that I come back to again and again is the Detroit Street Brick. It’s aged goat’s milk with cracked green peppercorns [that] we hand crack with a mortar and pestle right before we mix them into the curd. The nice lemony bright flavors from the pepper [play well] against the fruity, kind of herbaceous notes from the goat cheese. Right now we’re getting into wheat beer season so anything with coriander pairs really well with the green peppercorn in there, or if you’re a wine drinker, a nice minerally white is a great suggestion with that one. Chilled, ready to go out, sit on the patio!” —Tessie Ives-Wilson, Cream Top Shop Manager

Robert Reed makes sandwich suggestions to hungry customers

“My favorite sandwich is the Lincoln Log on Rustic Italian. It comes with piquillo peppers, and a little bit of balsamic vinegar drizzle brings an extra flavor to it. The flavor is just really good when it’s heated up and melted. [The cheese] has a nice gooey rind with a bit of minerally, mushroomy flavor.” —Robert Reed, Retail Associate

Zachary Sievers unwraps wheels for a taste test

“My favorite pairing right now is the Flory’s Truckle with French pinot noir. The Flory’s Truckle is an ACS winner from last year. It’s made by a group of Mennonite women from Missouri and it’s a really creamy, clothbound cheddar that still has that horseradish-y finish to it that I really enjoy. In terms of cheese we make, I really like the Manchester with a sauvignon blanc. The mushroominess from the Camembert style plays really well with the grassiness of the sauvignon blanc. I love it when it’s six weeks old and super runny.” — Zachary Sievers, Cheesemonger and Retail Supervisor

Cassandra Nesti helps customers discover innovative gelato pairings

“Definitely the Earl Grey [gelato] mixed with the lemon curd. The Earl Grey is not a flavor you find very often, and the lemon, it’s a real lemon flavor. [The Earl Grey] brings out [the lemon] and folds in so well. Like a cup of tea, frozen!” —Cassandra Nesti, Retail Associate

Erin Reed greets familiar faces as they arrive for the grand opening

“The Detroit Street Brick, it’s my favorite cheese we make. My second favorite is the Lincoln Log, which is also a goat cheese that we make. I think that the sandwich we came up with the piquillo peppers grilled is fabulous; it’s one of my favorite sandwiches that we have. I really also like to do the fresh goat spread. When we do it, it’s really mild and light and can be nice with amber beer.” —Erin Reed, Accountant

Photo Credits: Ryan Kaminski-Killiany

Kara Kaminski-Killiany

​Kara is a Michigan cheesemaker, writer, and freelance behavioral economist who can’t get enough bloomy rind cheeses that perfectly melt just below the rind. She is happiest when tending goats, discovering unique cheese flavors from new sources, and decoding the puzzles of human behavior.​