When autumn rolls around in Alabama, there’s one thing on everyone’s mind: college football. College football in the South is a way of life (and some might say religion). Fans take their teams—and tailgating—seriously. It’s not uncommon for spectators to roll in to a stadium a week early, set up camp, and start tailgating. But before that happens, the menu must be chosen.
Many customers order custom cheese boards and charcuterie platters from V. Richards Market during college football season. (The majority of them drop off their own boards in advance so we can make it look as if they’ve done the arrangements themselves.) If you’re not having a local monger pick out a selection for you, try these great cheeses and accompaniments from the southeastern United States—and don’t forget to bring lots of ice-cold beer for all the new friends you’re sure to attract.
1. Vidalia Onion & Muscadine Marinated Goat Cheese
Pictured in bowl at left
Stone Hollow Farmstead | Harpersville, Ala.
Goat’s milk; Vegetable rennet
With its combination of sweet caramelized Vidalia onions, tart muscadine syrup, and aged balsamic vinegar, this outstanding fresh chèvre made by Stone Hollow Farmstead simply tastes like the South. It’s awesome smeared on crackers or a fresh baguette.
2. Fiery Pimento Cheese
Pictured on celery at left
Callie’s Charleston Biscuits | North Charleston, S.C.
Pimento cheese is a staple across the South. Callie’s makes a drier style than most, using shredded cheddar, pimentos, and spices that give a lasting yet not-too-intense heat. Serve it the traditional way, on either saltine crackers or celery stalks. Pimento cheese need not be any fancier than that.
3. Dancing Fern
Pictured at top center as cut wheel
Sequatchie Cove Farm | Sequatchie, Tenn.
Cow’s milk; Traditional rennet
Soft and slightly oozy, this cheese made with raw milk from primarily Jersey/Holstein cross cattle tastes of rich, cultured butter. Aged 60 days, this Reblochon-style cheese is a consistent award winner, and the best of its type available in the United States, in my opinion.
Pictured at right as a wedge
Sweet Grass Dairy | Thomasville, Ga.
Raw cow’s milk; Traditional rennet
Made in the style of a Pyrenees Tomme, this cheese is smooth and rich, with a tangy and slightly buttery finish. I often notice customers’ eyes open widely as they taste it for the first time. It’s a crowd-pleaser that pairs well with Good People Brewing Co.’s pale ales (made in Birmingham).
ACCOMPANIMENT: Alecia’s Tomato Chutney | Alecia’s Specialty Foods
Alecia’s chutney, made in Leeds, Ala., is a sweet and savory sauce that can be used on literally everything. It’s great with cheeses, but it’s also perfectly at home with any protein off the grill.