Lovers of silk and stink take note: This orange-hued beauty yields precisely everything we love in a washed-rind cheese. Custardy and earthy Willoughby, with its meaty, savory flavors of roast beef and pork belly and a hint of raw broccoli, is begging to be smothered on our baguette or melt into our potatoes when temperatures plummet.
A native of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, Willoughby was created nearly a decade ago by a young cheesemaker Marisa Mauro at Ploughgate Creamery. But just as the cow’s milk disk first began making waves in the cheesemaking world, tragedy struck: Mauro’s creamery burned down. Later, she founded a business churning up delicious cultured butter—and left Willoughby’s recipe in the trusty hands of her neighbor, Jasper Hill Farm.
According to Rory Stamper of Dedalus Wine Shop, Market, and Wine Bar in Burlington, Vt., the “pudgy little stinker” is the closest thing Vermont has to Reblochon, the coveted washed-rind wheel from France’s Savoie. Case in point: “In the cooler months, Willoughby makes a brilliant tartiflette, broiled over roasted potatoes, leeks, and lardons with a glass of Mondeuse,” he says. (For a twist on the classic French dish, sub Willoughby for Reblochon. See recipe)
As for the culture crew, we’re happy washing this one down with a dark Japanese beer (try Nikka Coffey Grain or a Hitachino Nest Sweet Stout) or whiskey. Add some mustard and pickles on the side—plus some crusty bread—and dinner is served.