It’s hard to believe that we’re already well over halfway through 2018. I guess time flies when you’re having fun eating cheese—and boy, has the cheese been good this year!
We asked cheese experts about their favorite wheels and wedges so far in 2018, and their answers have our stomachs grumbling for a trip to the counter. Get your shopping list ready, here are 20 of the year’s top cheeses.
“Miette from Baetje Farm is bae. The supple cheesecake-y density balanced with sweet notes of clover and proofing croissant dough has me yearning for springtime already.”– Kate Kirkwood, General Manager and Resident CCP at Cheese + Provisions
“When I think of washed rinds, I think of a sort of spectrum: On one side, cheese so stinky it makes some people nauseated, but the flavor of the paste is outrageously rich and complex; on the other side, “beginner” washed rinds with very little pungency and, well, very little flavor, too. But Sawtooth from Cascadia Creamery is all things to all people. There’s no need to acquire the taste for washies: The aroma is warm and welcoming, and yet, the paste is a dense, sticky, thick pudding of rich, meaty, decadent milkfat flavors of vanilla bean, custard, cereal, hay, and so much cream!”– Mark Bilbrey, Cheese Program Director at Porter Road Butcher
“Anthill from Woodside Cheese. The ants add a unique texture and certainly raise eyebrows. I didn’t get too much on the flavor delivery, but my untrained palate detected lemon and citrus in the fresh, lactic style cheese so the ants blended right in.” – FM Munoz, Marketing Manager at Vermont Creamery
“Foxglove. Oh, I just adore this ooey-gooey, sticky, stinky, beer-washed, double cream from Tulip Tree in Indiana. It is ridiculously creamy and rich on the inside, with just the right balance of sour and stink on the outside. Just like me!” – Sara Adduci, Cheesemonger at Feast!
“Cottonbell from Boxcarr Handmade Cheese makes me fall in love all over again every time. Modeled on Robiola, it gets so gooey and oozy and has a grassy bright note like white pepper and mushrooms on the end. The rind is as fluffy as a cloud, and it is truly a delight to indulge in this cheese. For something really special, dust with za’atar and eat with grilled veggies!” – Samantha Kane, Business Development Manager at Atalanta
“I’m loving Grafton’s Shepsog right now. The last few wheels have had so many great savory flavors that reminded us of comfort foods like buttered popcorn and onion-y Thanksgiving stuffing.” – Beth Hillig Falk, Owner of Mill City Cheesemongers
“Capriole’s Julianna is on point! A perfectly balanced goat cheese, with both citric and milky notes accented by a beautiful coating of herbs and flowers. This year they added calendula petals and, I think, a slightly different herb mixture. Last year, the herbal notes weren’t as pronounced, and the cheese was firmer. I’m really enjoying the changes!” – Liz Bada, Cheesemonger at Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge MA
“I’m loving Little Hosmer from the Cellars at Jasper Hill. It’s for sure a cheesemonger’s comfort food. It’s adorable and an easy sell, but also so tasty: super mushroomy and really gets you going with its creamy goodness.
Dancing Fern from Sequatchie Cove Creamery also has me floored this year. I’ve had French Reblochon before, and it’s incredible, but I might like Dancing Fern just a bit more. It’s meaty and jam-packed with that washed rind funk.
Last, but not least, Grayson, from Meadow Creek Farms, here in Virginia, is always a winner. Every year this cheese gets better. It’s tangy and animalistic and incredible!” – Joshua Franklin, Cheesemonger at Brenner Pass
“Jumi’s Schlossberger is like Gruyère without the pomp or the PDO. This impressive hunk of Alpine cheese from Switzerland’s Emmental Valley tastes like roasted hazelnuts, chicken broth, and roasted leeks. It’s the only cheese I want in my fanny pack at the top of the mountain.” – Rory Stamp, Owner of COD Consulting, LLC and Accounts Manager at MidwestRoots
“Got to say that Quadrello di Bufala has been coming in with the most beautiful terra cotta colored rind and the pudgiest, most unctuous custardy insides. It’s perfect for smearing on crusty baguette and it’s got an addictive balance of salty and sweet with a bit of a meaty punch right on the finish. Most memorable cheese of 2018 so far!” – Erin Harris, ACS CCP and Cheesemonger at Jacobson’s
“May we all burn in the glory of Firefly Farms! Thine heathen goat’s milk runneth over, bringing no joy like that of the Merry Goat Round Spruce Reserve! The devil’s spruce bark wraps around this pagan communion of the velvet touch of bloomy rind upon the succor of the nanny goat’s teat! Repent! And hear the call of the Merry Goat Round Spruce Reserve! Amen! And praise Cheesus!” – Eric Schack, CMI Winner and Cheesemonger at Eataly NYC
“Murray’s Cavemaster Reserve Greensward has been one of my favorites! It tastes like luscious, woodsy, bacon pudding. It’s similar to Winnimere and made in the style of Vacherin Mont d’Or. When it’s perfectly ripe, it’s the kind of runny that flows in glossy ribbons off the knife. Stinky cheese for life!” – Kelley Jewell, Mid-Atlantic Divisional Coordinator at Murray’s Cheese
“Morel-infused Morcella by Shepherds Way Farms has been fantastic this year. I cannot keep it in stock. I have been preaching it’s greatness for the 6 months, even when it was out of season. Now, it is coming in ripe, creamy, and runny with that fantastic mushroomy flavor.” – Michael Wheeler, Cheesemonger at Sahadi’s
“Crown Finish Cave’s Bufarolo natural rind; I’m being specific here because they make a washed rind version, too. The natural rind one has incredibly developed flavors, and the texture is somehow both fluffy and a bit chewy. So amazing!” – Peg Todloski, Specialty Foods Merchandiser at Weaver Street Market
“I’ve loved Snowdrop from Haystack this year. The rind is delicate, and the paste is oozy and creamy. There are elements of meadow, fresh grass, and lemon peel. I love pairing it with ripe stone fruit, local honey, and fresh bread. It’s the consummate taste of summer!”– Meredith Fitzgerald, Cheese Manager at The Cheese Market
These excerpts have been edited and condensed for clarity.