The Newest Import Has Arrived!
There’s a lot of things to love about the British Isles… some of the best music has rock and rolled from across the pond, the history is ancient, palpable, and immense, and near-and-dear to my heart, traditional cheese-making is alive and well. Some of my favorite cheeses on the planet come from the UK- the salty-sweet tang of Stiltons, the complex and earthy taste of Cheddars, and the floofy, crumbly twang of Lancashire are the stuff my cheese-dreams are built upon. At Zingerman’s, we’ve long been spoiled by the fruits of Neal’s Yard Dairy’s hard work, and the most recent import of British goodies is further proof that when it comes to sourcing and aging amazing hard cheese, the folks at Neal’s are at the pinnacle of their profession.
Always tops on my list, Monty’s Cheddar is the real-deal. One of the few remaining farmstead cheddars, Jamie Montgomery’s Cheddar is the stuff of legends. A cloth-bound, natural rind protects the paste from the elements, and one taste of this classic stops the hands of time and lets you take a step back into the annals of cheese history. A far cry from its modern-day mass-produced counterpart, Montgomery’s Cheddar has an earthy, complex flavor and a slightly crumbly paste that’s pleasantly brittle. Made from the unpasteurized milk of Jamie’s herd of 140 Friesians, he uses calf rennet, cultures that date back 70 years to when his family first became cheese-makers, and an old, slow peg mill to craft this amazing, full-flavored cheddar. The wheel that just arrived was born on the 7th of August last year, so at 13 months it is at its prime. This is one cheese I pair exclusively with beer. I love it with a pale ale, preferably British or an IPA- Corner Brewery’s Sacred Cow is my favorite. If you’ve never tasted Montogmery’s Cheddar, don’t postpone your bliss any longer- come on down to the Cheese Shop for a taste.
Mrs. Kirkham’s Lancashire is a great cheese. There’s just no way around it. This buttery, crumbly cheese has a lemony twang to compliment it’s luscious body, and is lovingly rubbed with Kirkham’s farmhouse butter as it ages. The result is the quintessential British cheese experience. Made with a blend of 6 days worth of milkings from their herd of Friesian Holslteins, natural rennet and cultures, this beauty is aged for at least 6 weeks on Kirkham’s farm before it is handed-over to the affineurs at Neal’s Yard Dairy to transform the superb into the sublime. Lancashire is a great melting cheese, on a cheese plate, or simply paired with a luscious white like Riesling, a spicy Pinot Noir, or a pint of dark English ale.
Hailing from County Cork, Ireland, Ardrahan is a washed-rind cheese made by Mary Burns from the milk of her herd of Friesian Holsteins that happen to be the oldest registered pedigree of their kind in Ireland. It has a very earthy flavor that compliments the sweet milky paste well. It has a pleasantly pungent aroma, but is surprisingly mild and has slowly but surely cemented itself onto my list of favorites. Try a slice with a glass of a nice big red.
The Usual Suspects
In addition to the British beauties, we have lots of other great imports from around the world, some amazing American cheeses, and of course, our very own line of cheeses made just a few feet from where they are sold.
One of the more well-known French cheeses, our Comté is hand-selected by the world-renowned affineur Maison Marcel Petite and has a fudgey texture that’s smooth, buttery and tastes of hazelnuts. Our current batch us hands-down the best I’ve tasted.
Ig Vella’s Dry Jack
This American original has been affectionately dubbed “the backpacker’s cheese,” and rightly so. It’s definitely built to last. I took a big wedge camping with me over Labor Day, and it was the perfect companion to most of my meals. It’s buttery and crumbly with the best characteristics of Parmiggiano and Cheddar.
Neal’s Yard Dairy’s very own raw-milk Stilton. Taste a bit of cheese-making past with this bold blue as Neal’s has turned back the clock and began making Stilton the way it used to be. Although Stilton (Colston Bassett in particular) is still a fabulous cheese, we have thrown our support behind Stichelton and carry it exclusively. It’s hard to beat a nice thick wedge melted on a steak or burger (veggie or otherwise).
From the Creamery, with love…
One of the things I love most about cheese are the inconsistencies. From make-to-make and wheel-to-wheel there are little differences that make each batch unique. Part of the experience is the hunt for what’s tasting best at the moment. We make fresh and aged cow and goat’s milk cheeses in our dairy in small batches. Our fresh cheeses are available for sale the same day they come out of the molds and bags. We age our bloomy rind cheeses just long enough for them to get fluffy before we offer them up for you to taste. When you stop by, just ask us what’s tasting best that day and we’ll steer you towards our picks of the day. Right now, our Lincoln Log is tops in my book o our aged goat’s milk cheeses. This traditional Boucheron is a little bit mushroomy with a nice citrus twang. Our Bridgewater has been my favorite of our aged cow’s milk cheeses lately. Plenty of peppercorns give it a great zing and the paste is creamy with just a hint of citrus to balance the peppercorns. And of course, you can’t beat hand-stretched, freshly-made Mozzarella.