At the Foods and Wines from Spain booth, from left: Chef Mat Schuster of Canela in San Francisco, Editor Susan Sherrill Axelrod, Creative Director Mallory Scyphers, Digital and Social Media Editor Josie Krogh | Photo by Jeff Leyden
This week, the culture team journeyed to Sin City to attend the 2023 Winter Fancy Food Show where we sifted through thousands of specialty food products. Culture Editor Susan Sherrill Axelrod, Creative Director Mallory Scyphers, and Digital and Social Media Editor Josie Krogh combed the aisles trying everything from cheese and charcuterie, to non-alcoholic wine and freeze dried candy (yes that’s a thing). One thing we all noticed was that cheese seemed to be everywhere. Not only was there a dedicated deli pavilion featuring dozens of different domestic cheesemakers, but there was also an EU pavilion with European classics like Parmigiano Reggiano and Comté. Cheese is certainly having a moment in the specialty food scene, and these were some of the standouts we tried at this year’s show.
Perrystead Dairy’s Moonrise – It was a treat getting to meet Yoav Perry in person, (check out this culture feature on the Philadelphia cheesemaker), and have him walk us through a tasting of his supremely creative small-format cheeses. While they were all delicious, we especially loved Moonrise. The pudgy little washed rind is made with both calf and thistle rennet, an umami bomb in a petite package.
Rogue Creamery Bluehorn – An updated, re-release of a cheese soaked in the same biodynamic Oregon syrah from which the creamery picks the grape leaves to wrap Rogue River Blue, it’s fruity, slightly piquant, and utterly delicious. As Rogue River Blue has increased in popularity (being crowned best cheese in the world will do that) it has become an even harder wedge to snag, Bluehorn is intended to be a compliment to Rogue River, with contrasting seasonal availability.
All the cheeses at Rodolphe Le Meunier – It proved impossible to pick one favorite from the lineup at Rodolphe Le Meunier. We enjoyed the Moka Blue, a Blue d’Auvergne that gets an extra kick from the espresso packed on the top of the wheel. The Rouleau Fumé, a cold smoked goat’s cheese log, the cold smoking process imparted a very subtle smoky flavor that did not overpower the delicate flavor of the chèvre.
Saint Angel Blue – This supremely creamy triple cream cheese has just a touch of funk from the addition of Penicillium roqueforti. Described as a gateway blue, we might go so far as to call this an addictive blue.
Kris Lloyd Artisan’s Anthill goat cheese with native green ants – The surprise kick of lime is NOT from the cheese, but the ants’ abdomen (or more specifically, its gaster). The cheese isn’t new, but it was the first time we had tried it in person and it made a serious impression. As long as you can get past eating ants this cheese is a must-try!
Will Studd’s Le Dauphin: A rich double cream cow’s milk cheese that tastes like salted butter, served up by his charming son, Sam (read our Voicings with Sam and his sister, Ellie, here). While there was no Champagne served alongside this creamy masterpiece, we can only imagine how the two would play off one another to create a perfect pairing experience.
Nettle Meadow’s Sappy Ewe: Sweet, tangy, and visually striking from the coat of black pine ash, this cow and sheep milk cheese is not to be missed. The curds are coated with an Adirondack maple reduction and then formed in a small, crotin-sized mold. We got to try Nettle Meadow’s full range of cheeses, also delicious was the three mixed-milk Briar Summit, and of course the Truffle Kunik.
La Fermière de Méan Cabricharme – This goat’s milk washed rind from Belgium stopped us dead in our tracks. Its bold paste boasts strong meaty notes, while the rind is yeasty and pungent. This cheese will make any washed rind lover’s taste buds sing!
Mystic Cheese Melinda Mae – Melinda Mae is a tried-and-true classic, but this was the first time we tasted the bloomy rind now that it is being made exclusively with Jersey milk (it was previously made with Holstein milk). The Mystic Cheese folks have worked hard over the past several years to source local, high-quality Jersey cow’s milk from nearby farms.
A Few Non-Cheese Honorable Mentions
Firehook’s Crispy Grahams – “If I could change one thing about a regular graham cracker, it’s making it thinner and not so crumbly, and this achieved that. Obviously a smear of soft goat cheese would work well. Take that up a notch with a square of milk chocolate and a drizzle of honey and you have a fancy riff on a campsite fave.” – Mallory Scyphers
Runamok’s Sparkle Syrup – “Brought a sample size home for the kids—Classic Runamok Maple syrup swirled with sparkly fun. Husband asked if it was for him to put in cocktails.” – Mallory Scyphers
Deca & Otto’s Buffalo Milk Dulce de Leche – “It’s not as cloyingly sweet as other versions, and I think it would be fabulous paired with a full-flavored blue cheese.” – Susan Sherrill Axelrod
Wheyward Spirit – “This alcoholic spirit is made with upcycled whey. I love the story behind it, plus it made a mean cocktail with lemon Fever-Tree tonic water.” – Josie Krogh
Turkish Pistachio Butter – “Pistachios are the most luxurious nut, so it’s only fitting they would make the most luxurious nut butter. Peppertux Farms’ Turkish Pistachio Butter comes in a sweetened and unsweetened variety, both are delicious but have very different applications. I want to put this on ice cream, toast, and even a cheeseboard.” – Josie Krogh