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Cheese Plate: No Sweat

This cheese plate made up of Vermont Creamery Cremont, Tarentaise, Summer Snow, and more, makes a great summer meal.

When summer hits full stride in New England, I relish a break from long months of indoor hibernation; I eat as many meals outdoors as possible. Although I’m as comfortable around the grill as the next guy, if I do not have to cook, so much the better. If I am luckier yet, I might find myself in a canoe with friends, paddling up the Concord River in search of a shady glade where we can pull ashore and devour the local cheese we picked up at Wasik’s that morning.

My beat-the-heat selection featured here can easily be dressed up into a full meal with a light salad and perhaps a bit of charcuterie or salumi. (The cheese-centric, no-cook meals my dad prepared every Saturday come to mind: coppa, salami, thin-sliced fresh green peppers in olive oil, crusty bread, and a spicy provolone.) But for me this riverside cheese supper is also just right straight out of the wrapper, with fresh, ripe cherries and peaches, and, oh yes, a cold and crisp rosé.

This cheese plate made up of Vermont Creamery Cremont, Tarentaise, Summer Snow, and more, makes a great summer meal.

1. Tarentaise

Pictured at top left

Thistle Hill Farm and Spring Brook Farm – North Pomfret and Reading, Vermont
Raw cow’s milk; Traditional rennet
sbfcheese.com, thistlehillfarm.com

Tarentaise, made at both Thistle Hill and Spring Brook farms, could be an exercise in terroir. Try both to see what a difference 20 miles can make in the texture and flavor of identically-made cheeses. Both are dense and oh-sosmooth, with a beautiful Jersey cow glow, a nutty start, and a peppery finish that might leave your lips tingling. It’s all a matter of degree. Either would be a perfect endnote to an easy summer meal.

2. Cremont

Pictured at top right

Vermont Creamery – Websterville, Vermont
Pasteurized goat and cow’s milk, cow’s cream; Microbial rennet

I have been a fan of Vermont Creamery for more than 20 years. I recall how excited I was when its cofounder, Allison Hooper, offered to bring a new cheese she was developing to a L’Espalier Cheese Tuesday for a trial run. Batch 19—as she called this small, wrinkly, meltingly lush disk—was an instant crowd pleaser. Emerging on the market a few months later dubbed Cremont, this mixed-milk cheese uses a bit of cream to amp up its sweet and tangy richness.

3. Salva Cremasco DOP

Pictured at left

Lombardy, Italy
Raw cow’s milk; Traditional rennet

As stolid in appearance as the building blocks of a sun-drenched Italian hilltown, Salva Cremasco is a double-decker cousin of taleggio and was recently awarded DOP (nameprotected) status. Its dense paste is a bit crumbly in its deep interior but smooth and slightly elastic toward its tawny rind. The flavors are concentrates of unaggressive earth and a lingering tartness.

4. Summer Snow

Pictured center of plate

Woodcock Farm – Weston, Vermont
Pasteurized sheep’s milk; Microbial rennet

I know that summer is just around the corner when the first wheels of Summer Snow arrive. This soft-ripened cheese, which will be available until early autumn, has the unctuous sweet-and-sour sheepy flavors and opulent texture that screams, “Baa, Baa, Baa.”

5. Grazalema Payoyo

Pictured at bottom right

Queso Payoyo; Andalusia, Spain
Raw goat’s and sheep’s milk; Traditional rennet

Produced in the Grazalema nature preserve in southern Spain and made from the blending of Payoyo goat’s and Pyrenees sheep’s milk, this five-pound basketweave- rinded wheel offers the best that both animal milks have to offer. Densely textured but slightly moist, with a gamy perfumed aroma, the flavors combine tart citrus with buttery sweetness in a boisterous balance.

Miele di Fiori di Castagno

A dab of honey can do a lot to tame a wild cheese, but it can also be cloying or overwhelming. This chestnut honey from Franca Franzoni, however, has subdued sweetness, with a caramel and nut flavor reminiscent of the toasty crust of a crème brûlée, and a slight bitterness. amazon.com


Cured beef and pork “hunter’s sausage,” each link of Landjaeger is about four inches long and would traditionally be stuffed into a pant pocket for long treks, sliced or bitten off as needed. The version produced by the New York sausage maker Schaller & Weber has a rich salami flavor. schallerweber.com

Tortas de Aceite de Ines Rosales

Thin, crisp, and flaky, these olive oil “cakes” are mildly sweet, with a hint of anise flavor. I especially like these tortas with Cremont, but mostly I just like them. inesrosalesusa.com

Photographer Arthur Cohen

Arthur Cohen is originally from Rhode Island, where he studied Criminal Justice/Sociology at Castleton State College. After realizing that the world didn't need another lawyer, he got a job in New York City as a production assistant and fell in love with photography. Arthur's work has appeared in New York Magazine, SPIN, and The New York Times.

Cheesemonger Louis Risoli

Louis Risoli is the renowned fromager and mâitre d’hÔtel at L’Espalier, the award-winning restaurant on Boston’s Boylston Street. He is also the host of Cheese Tuesday at L’Espalier, a casual night featuring a three-course dinner with paired wines, followed by thematic cheese tasting with musical accompaniment.

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