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Queen Bee Porcini

Beehive Cheese makes a royal splash with its latest creation

The same year Queen Bee Porcini hit the market, it won Super Gold at the 2021 World Cheese awards. It was the highest award given to an American cheese producer at the event and the highest honor won by Utah’s Beehive Cheese—no stranger to winning awards for their cheeses. 

Co-owner Pat Ford credits his son, Oliver Ford—Beehive’s director of sales—and David Yourd from Regalis Foods, a New York–based importer of truffles and mushrooms, with inventing the creamery’s latest cheese. “Oliver and David collaborated on this cheese for four years,” says Ford. “When you develop a new cheese, you forget about it for six months or so while it ages and the flavors evolve and then you taste it and decide ‘Nah that’s not quite right.’ The cycle continues and once you finally decide it’s right, it takes another six months to a year to take it to market. They were patient and it paid off. We’re very excited about this delicious and unique cheese.”

Like all of Beehive’s cheeses, Queen Bee Porcini starts with Promontory—a creamy cheddar made with Jersey cow’s milk—the creamery’s base cheese. Foraged porcini mushrooms are dried, ground to a dust, and rubbed on the wheels, which are then aged for two to three months. (Utah’s arid climate is the reason behind Beehive’s process.) “Necessity is the mother of invention—that’s how we launched our company, by rubbing crazy things on the outside of our cheese,” says Ford.

Flavoring the rind with ingredients like coffee and lavender (for Barely Buzzed), garlic, celery seed, and cayenne (for Big John’s Cajun), and porcini dust results in more subtle flavors than adding ingredients to the cheese itself. “After all, you’re buying cheese, not mushrooms,” says Ford. At first bite, Queen Bee Porcini presents like a creamy cheddar—because it is. But the umami notes of the mushrooms appear near the end, with a lingering aftertaste that leaves you wanting more. “That’s what I think is so unique about the cheese,” says Ford, “It’s not in your face. It’s delicate yet complex. If you’re expecting it to be super mushroom-forward, you’re not going to get it.”

For pairing Queen Bee Porcini, Ford recommends, “layering on freshly baked bread with savory tomato jam and pickled asparagus or onion.” Enjoy it with pinot noir, syrah, a brown ale, or porter to complement the cheese’s earthy flavors.

Susan Axelrod

Susan Sherrill Axelrod is a former editor of Culture. Her love affair with cheese began at age 12, when she bicycled to a gourmet shop to taste an exotic newcomer—French brie. She lives with her partner in midcoast Maine, where she enjoys a well-made cocktail, hiking with their dog, Lucy, and spending as much time as possible on the water.

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