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Cheese Plate: All-American Honors


a cheese plate with Bermuda Triangle, Dirt Lover, Red Rock, and Bear Hill cheeses

This selection of cheeses from across the United States offers a little something for everybody. There’s a chef-friendly goat cheese, a bloomy-rind sheep’s milk cheese, a blue-cheddar hybrid, and an American original. What’s more, they’re all champion cheeses, having won awards at the 2013 American Cheese Society Judging & Competition and the International Cheese Awards. We selected this mix from our new 101 Best Cheeses of the Year special edition, an annual issue dedicated to highlighting our favorite ribbon and trophy winners from the past year. Enjoy them alongside two accompaniments that we recently discovered (and loved) for a truly winning combination.

a cheese plate with Bermuda Triangle, Dirt Lover, Red Rock, and Bear Hill cheeses

1. Bermuda Triangle

Created with the chef in mind, this soft goat cheese’s eclectic triangular shape makes for a beautiful plating. Characteristic tanginess is made more interesting by hints of peppery flavor in the ash blackening the rind’s inner core. For a treat, drizzle a slice of this 2013 ACS category winner with balsamic vinegar.

2. Dirt Lover

  • Maker: Green Dirt Farm
  • Origin: Weston, Mo.
  • Milk: Pasteurized sheep’s milk
  • Rennet: Traditional

This unassuming white cylinder with an attention-grabbing name clinched first in its category at the 2013 ACS competition. Made from the milk of the farm’s own 100 percent grassfed sheep, the cheese tastes of cream, with a hint of citrus on the finish. Its finest notes are concentrated in a gooey layer underneath its ash-coated bloomy rind.

3. Red Rock

  • Maker: Roelli Cheese
  • Origin: Shullsburg, Wis.
  • Milk: Pasteurized cow’s milk
  • Rennet: Traditional

This natural-rind, vibrant-orange cheese won best in its class at the 2013 International Cheese Awards. Though it’s a cheddar, it’s also a blue cheese—but the veining is minimal and the blue flavors are muted. Aged for more than 60 days, Red Rock is a stunner on any cheese plate. The Roelli family knows what it’s doing when it comes to cheesemaking; the family’s fourth generation of cheesemakers is now in the business.

4. Bear Hill

Named for the bluff overlooking Grafton Village’s cheesemaking headquarters, Bear Hill is truly an American original—just as cheesemaker Dane Huebner intended it to be. “If a cheese doesn’t exist, I try to come up with something that can fill that spot,” Huebner says. “Mixed-milk, mold-ripened cheese . . . there’s not a lot of that out there, [nor are there many] hard cheeses from sheep’s milk.” Huebner’s creation is mild as far as alpine styles go, but that’s not to say it lacks in character or flavor. Milky, fruity, and nutty, Bear Hill delivers the sweetness of sheep’s milk without any barnyard aromas. In addition to its runner-up Best in Show title at the ACS competition, Bear Hill also claimed a gold at the 2013 International Cheese Awards.

Accompaniments

Spiced Pecans | Treat Bake Shop

Treat’s perfectly seasoned Georgia pecans are equally sweet and salty, with a spicy kick. They’re versatile partners to bold and funky cheeses—and addictive on their own.

Bacon Salami | Creminelli Fine Meats

New to Creminelli’s superb line of artisan meats, this bacon salami is an Italian-American triumph. Made with all-natural cooked American bacon and Duroc pork, it’s doubly flavorful.

culture: the word on cheese

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