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Monthly Cheese Club December

Kinsman Ridge, Beecher’s Flagship Reserve, Pecora Nocciola

December’s Monthly Cheese Club selection just makes us happy.  We go to Vermont, Wisconsin and Washington state to select three delicious artisan American cheeses.

Landaff Creamery Kinsman Ridge
Kinsman Ridge

Kinsman Ridge

Kinsman Ridge is a rich, savory cheese inspired by the funky French tommes like St. Nectaire.  Cheesemakers Doug and Debby Erb of Landaff Creamery make the raw milk, farmstead cheese at their creamery in New Hampshire and then send it to Jasper Hill farms in Vermont to age.

For years, the creamery specialized in just one cheese, the eponymous Landaff.  With their second cheese, they wanted something a little more daring.  Kinsman looks like a brie from the outside, but really it’s a washed rind.  It’s washed in brine as it ages, and then is allowed to develop a growth of white mold near the end of its aging.

The cheese tastes earthy (from its cave aging), buttery (from its rich cow’s milk) and meaty (from the washed rind process).  We get hints of roasted artichoke and asparagus.  As it matures, the cheese takes on an increasingly rich and creamy consistency.

Pairing: We love the rustic look and decadent texture of Kinsman Ridge, which make it a perfect choice for your cheese board. Try pairing it with a Sauvignon Blanc, wheat beer, or saucisson sec!

Beecher’s Handmade Cheese Flagship Reserve Cheddar
Beecher's Handmade Flagship Cheddar Reserve

Beecher’s Handmade Flagship Cheddar Reserve

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting the Beecher’s Handmade Cheese shops in Seattle’s historic Pike Place Market or New York City’s Flatiron District, you know that you can literally watch their skilled cheesemakers transform a vat of creamy milk into award-winning cheddars using the same techniques that have been used for thousands of years.

Flagship Reserve is a special version of their signature Flagship cheese. It is made only on days when the milk composition is just right.  In addition, they use the last curds left over from making regular Flagship.  Those final curds have a little less moisture and a little more salt which produces a richer taste and texture than the original.

The cheese is then cloth-bound and open-air aged, which concentrates the already rich flavor and produces a hearty finish. A frequent award winner, Flagship Reserve consistently is recognized on at American and International cheese awards.

Pairing: We like to shave Flagship Reserve over salads.  We also pair it with a nice Syrah or a brown ale. Try it with a Christmas ale too!

Landmark Creamery’s Pecora Nocciola
Landmark Creamery’s Pecora Nocciola

Landmark Creamery’s Pecora Nocciola

American made sheep milk cheeses are emerging as a powerhouse, giving many traditional European styles are getting a run for their money! Pecora Nocciola is one of them.

It’s made by Wisconsin’s Landmark Creamery, owned by “the two Anna’s”—Anna Landmark and Anna Thomas Bates.  When they met in 2009, Anna Landmark was milking a couple of goats and a cow named Freckles.  Anna Thomas Bates was a local food writer.  They met at a potluck dinner for sustainable agriculture and a few years later started plotting a new cheesemaking business.  They’ve since become known as the Thelma and Louise of Wisconsin cheese.

They’ve only been making cheese since 2013, but have made a big impression in the cheese world in a short time.  They source sheep’s milk from a nearby farm that practices rotational grazing.  The grass-fed milk yields golden-hued cheese that is buttery, grassy and complex.

Pecora Nocciola is a perfect ode to the classic pecorinos of Italy and is everything you want from an aged sheep cheese.  It’s subtle and smooth with lots of big brown butter notes.

Pairings: This wonderful sheep’s milk cheese is ideal with a luscious red wine like Barolo or Zinfandel. We enjoy it with cured meats, roasted root vegetables, bourbon cocktails and quince paste, too! It’s also perfect for grating or shredding on pasta.