Sheri LaVigne’s love of dairy stems from her childhood spent on a small farm near Albuquerque, N.M. “We had one goat that provided milk for drinking and making butter, fresh cheese, and ice cream,” she says. “I knew how to milk her before I knew how to tie my shoes.” LaVigne headed east to New York for art school and also traveled to France, sampling stinky cheese for the first time. In 2005, she moved to Seattle, where she couldn’t find anything quite like the store she had frequented in Brooklyn: the Bedford Cheese Shop.
So LaVigne took matters into her own hands, opening The Calf & Kid in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood in 2010. To toast the season—and to celebrate the shop’s fifth anniversary and the pending debut of her cheese bar, Culture Club—we asked LaVigne to assemble a pleasing plate of cheeses that play well with Washington’s top crop, apples.
“We have almost all varieties available here year-round,” LaVigne says. “We are lucky ponies.” (In fact, the state produces well over half of the apples in the US.) Ahead, the wheels and wedges to serve with fall’s favorite fruit, in all its forms.
- Maker: Jasper Hill Farm
- Origin: Greensboro, Vt.
- Milk: Pasteurized cow’s milk
“I make my own chutney, and it’s heavy on the clove and lemon rind—more savory than sweet,” LaVigne says. She slathers a full wheel of the Vermont stunner with chutney, then bakes it in croissant dough. “It’s the most delicious hot mess this side of the Mississippi,” she says.
- Maker: Tieton Farm & Creamery
- Origin: Tieton, Wash.
- Milk: Pasteurized sheep’s and goat’s milk
The mixed-milk “Rheba is slightly funky, with a fat, creamy mouthfeel that coats the tongue deliciously,” LaVigne says. “The cider tastes of bittersweet, tart apple and a bit of wood—it’s strong enough to play with the deep, sweet milk of the cheese.”
- Maker: Collingthwaite Farm
- Origin: Nottinghamshire, England
- Milk: Raw cow’s milk
LaVigne loves this brash blue, “but it can be a bit too much for some people,” she says. “This sweet, slightly acidic jam works very well to calm down the rich cave-floor notes and heavy mouthfeel of the cheese.”
4. Fresh Chevre
- Maker: Yarmuth Farm Cheese
- Origin: Darrington, Wash.
- Milk: Pasteurized goat’s milk
Braeburn apple slices
“This is the lightest, fluffiest fresh cheese with a perfect balance of tangy and sweet,” LaVigne says. “It naturally has tons of lemon and citrus notes, so it’s perfect for Braeburns, which tend to be a bit heavier and sweeter in flavor. The pairing is simple, but I love it.” Drizzled with raw honey or topped with crumbled bacon-caramel popcorn, the bite is a crowd-pleaser, she adds.
- Maker: Glauser Dairy
- Origin: Steinen, Switzerland
- Milk: Raw cow’s milk
LaVigne accents this pair with a dollop of Sweet Caroline’s Pear Ginger Cardamom Jam and a drop of BeeWorks Farm Nectar (honey-balsamic reduction). “The cheese tastes of deep and heavy caramel, hazelnut, and a bit of cave floor,” she says. “The other elements elevate these flavors and bring out the cheese’s lighter side.”
Photographed by Evi Abeler | Styled by Laura Knoop