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Roth Grand Cru
Pasteurized Cow’s Milk, Wisconsin

GrandCruSurchoix_big (1)Our favorite description of the passion Roth brings to cheesemaking comes from their website where they say:

This is cheese theater. Admittedly, this is theater that’s a bit slow. At Roth Cheese, we can spend 10 minutes rolling cheese around on our tongues. You’ll see us argue over a wheel of cheese that won’t be ready to eat for two years. And if you ask about our latest batch, you’ll most likely get a meteorologist’s lecture on weather, feed, cows, farms and the daily milk haul. You probably don’t want to get stuck talking to us at a party. But slowly, deliberately, patiently, our obsession does make for some amazing cheese.

Yeah, we get it. We may have been accused of doing some of those things ourselves because cheese really is grass turned into milk and then turned to cheese.  In other words, what the cows ate and when they ate it really makes a difference in how a cheese tastes.

Roth takes some of Wisconsin’s best milk and turns it into an award-winning (in U.S. and world competitions) Gruyere-style cheese. How committed are they? They even employ the traditional alpine cheesemaking method of using copper vats to make their cheese. This robust and full-bodied cheese is perfect for a cheese tray paired with fresh apples, pears, grapes, almonds, figs and cornichons.  It’s an awesome melter—hello onion soup, baked potatoes, panini and mac-and-cheese!

Drink Pairings: Try it with an apple cider or an amber beer. 

Sequatchie Cove Dancing Fern
Raw Cow’s Milk, Tennessee

Dancing Fern CheeseWhen people think of American artisan cheese, they often think of the coasts, and that’s fair.  There are some amazingly delicious cheeses being produced in Vermont and New York or California and Oregon.  But the American cheese renaissance that has us excited recently is the one coming from the South.

There is a dynamism in southern U.S. cheesemaking that is worth taking note of.  Ok, as former sheep dairy farmers/cheesemakers from Virginia, we might be biased. But our bias has been confirmed by national and international cheese competitions where our southern cheesemakers are taking lots of awards.

One of our current favorites is Sequatchie Cove, a 300-acre farm located 35 minutes northwest of downtown Chattanooga Tennessee. The farm is a family-run business, currently on its third generation.  They also embrace the motto of happy cows make good milk (and good milk makes good cheese).  Their animals spend their entire lives grazing in open pastures, the way they were meant to do. The creamery is 100% solar powered and their biggest waste product, whey, is fed to Sequatchie Cove’s pigs.

Dancing Fern is inspired by the famous raw milk Reblochon cheese of France.  The milk for this cheese comes from Devon cattle, an uncommon breed in the United States. Its soft and supple texture and barnyardy aroma, along with notes of cultured butter, shiitake mushroom, and walnuts make it a stand out on the cheese plate.

Drink Pairings: We like Dancing Fern with Beaujolais or an oaky Chardonnay. Prefer beer? Try a Trappist ale or an IPA.

Meadow Creek Dairy Appalachian Tomme
Raw Cow’s Milk, Virginia

AppalachianMeadow Creek Dairy is another reason we love southern cheese and not just because it comes from our old stomping grounds in Virginia, where we ran a winery and started a sheep dairy.

Helen and Rick Feete of Meadow Creek Dairy make raw milk cheeses from their herd of Jersey cows in Galax, VA, but only when cows are eating the fresh grass of open pastures.

Milking begins in late March when the calves are born and fresh grass begins to grow. Their free-range cows graze on a mixture of perennial grasses and legumes, supplemented with grains, salt and Norwegian kelp. You would be amazed at how much time farmstead cheesemakers spend developing their pastures.  When the grass stops growing in the late fall, the farm takes a two-month hiatus for the cows and the Feetes.

What is a Tomme you ask? Tomme is literally the French word for “wheel of cheese” and it’s used to describe a wide range of cheeses. What makes a Tomme distinctive is the fact that the milk is heated to a lower temperature than in most other cheesemaking.  This creates cheeses that range in density and intensity, but are all generally velvety on the palate.

Appalachian is no exception. It is buttery and melt-in-your-mouth smooth with a lightly tangy, lemony flavor.  It’s great on its own on a cheese plate or in any dish where you would want melted cheese.  Use your imagination!

Drink Pairings: Grab a crisp white wine or a smooth lager and go to your happy place.