Summer Cheese Plate: Spicy and Sweet | culture: the word on cheese
☰ menu   

Summer Cheese Plate: Spicy and Sweet


Vermont is known for having more craft brewers, artists, and cheesemakers per capita than any other state. There are cheese names that you know, such as Jasper Hill Farm, Cabot Creamery, and Vermont Creamery, as well as makers with more regional distribution like Lazy Lady Farm and Sage Farm Goat Dairy. But what was missing from the Vermont landscape was a place where locals and visitors could buy these exemplary cheeses. That is, until Robin Morris entered the scene. 

A well-known businessman in the central Vermont region known as the Mad River Valley, Morris opened the Mad River Food Hub—a food and beverage incubator and USDA meat-processing facility—in Waitsfield in 2012. The Hub helped more than 200 Vermont businesses start and grow. The challenge then became: Now that there were local products to sell, where would they sell them? 

In 2017 Morris opened Mad River Taste Place to feature the best of Vermont: local cheeses, meats, and other specialty foods. The shop also stocks wines that are specifically selected, not just for their flavor profiles, but for their compatibility with other food items. Add the array of pickles, jams, cultured butter, and locally baked breads, and you’ve got a one-stop shop for an impromptu charcuterie board for a group or a quick dinner for two—including handcrafted boards. Mad River Taste Place has also partnered with a local wedding venue to offer welcome gift baskets for guests and create memorable spreads for the spouses-to-be and the wedding party. Last November, Josh Turka moved his butcher shop, 5th Quarter, to a corner at the rear of the store, where he sells a variety of meat products sourced from Vermont farmers, plus his own charcuterie. 

At the helm of Mad River Taste Place is general manager Mary Tuthill, ACS CCP, who has expanded the shop’s offerings from solely Vermont products to include regional delights from other parts of New England, and international superstars such as Parmigiano Reggiano and several goudas. She shared five of her favorite sweet-spicy pairings for summer 

1 VERMONT SHEPHERD VERANO + Traverse City Whiskey Co. Cocktail Cherries 

Origin: Putney, Vt. | Milk: Raw sheep 

“Verano really is the perfect cheese for summer since it is made with only summer milk [and Verano means summer in Spanish]. Firm but creamy, subtle, and nutty, this is so fun to drizzle with a little boozy cherry juice and top with a full cherry.” 

2  OLD CHATHAM CREAMERY NANCY’S HUDSON VALLEY CAMEMBERT + Wozz! Spicy Summer Mango Chutney and Simmer Sauce 

Origin: Groton, N.Y | Milk: Pasteurized cow and sheep 

“This is our take on the old-fashioned cream cheese and hot pepper jelly roll. Nancy’s Camembert is a sheep/cow blend that’s fluffy like a cloud, nicely salted, and rich like butter. Add the mango chutney on top and it is divine.” 

3  MT. MANSFIELD CREAMERY PATROLMAN’S BLUES + Ariel’s Honey Infusions Bee My Honey 

Origin: Morrisville, Vt. | Milk: Raw cow 

“The Bee My Honey infusion is dried raspberries and dark chocolate. Drizzled over blue cheese, there really isn’t much more you need. Perfect for date night!” 

4  SHELBURNE FARMS 2-YEAR CHEDDAR + West Worcester Woodfired Smoked Nuts and Babette’s Table Saucisson Sec 

Origin: Shelburne, Vt. | Milk: Raw cow 

Summer in Vermont is made for hiking, biking, swimming, and enjoying the outdoors. This is the perfect snack to bring on your outdoor excursion. Flavors that go from salty, smoky, savory, and even a hint of sweet, create a picnic in an easily transportable package. 

5  ICE HOUSE FARM CLASSIC PLAIN CHÈVRE + Blank Slate Kitchen Sichuan Chili Oil 

Origin: Goshen, Vt. | Milk: Pasteurized goat 

Mary suggests whipping the chili oil and chèvre together and using it to top a grilled flatbread pizza for an ultimate taste of summer. 

Agela Abdullah

Agela Abdullah is a “reformed” cook and chef who took her first job behind the cheese counter in 2008. She currently handles marketing for an Illinois cheesemaker and serves as a board member for the Cheese Culture Coalition. She lives in Chicago with two cats, two sourdough starters, and an old laptop named Harbison.

Leave a Reply