Some of the blue-ribbon winners from the recent American Cheese Society competition in Pittsburgh will never make it to your local cheese shop. They are small-production cheeses that hardly leave their region. On the bright side, many do travel. Why not treat yourself and guests to a blue-ribbon cheese board this week? Your area’s best cheese merchant will likely have at least three of the victors, possibly even those pictured above. Alas, to get the winning cheese I want most, I’ll have to go to Colorado.
Pictured from left to right:
A 17- to 20-pound wheel matured for three to five months, Reading has a thin brine-washed rind and a semisoft, dense yet creamy interior. It is fragrant but not a big stinker. Expect aromas of roast beef and peanut butter and a robust, saline flavor.
EWE CALF to be KIDding
A rare three-milk blue cheese with moderate veining and a creamy texture; the more mature it is, the more piquant it will be, so taste before you buy.
Bellwether’s Pepato is intentionally moister and less salty than the hard Italian pecorino pepato that inspired it. You could grate it, but it’s pretty pricey for that use. I love it as a table cheese. It is firm but not dry, with meaty, faintly smoky aromas—like a charcoal-grilled lamb chop with a squeeze of lemon.
For me, one of the most memorable cheeses from the competition was Fruition Farms’s feta , a 100 percent sheep's milk feta from Colorado. It placed second in its category; the winning sheep feta, also lovely, was from Wisconsin’s Hidden Springs Creamery. I thought the Fruition cheese was creamier and had more of a traditional feta tang. Fruition Farms is affiliated with two outstanding Denver restaurants, Fruition and Mercantile, so you can taste the feta there if you’re in the area.
from the American Cheese Society
Thursday, Sept. 20
5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Trefethen Family Vineyards
Which cheeses floated to the top in the 2018 American Cheese Society competition? I’ll be scouting out seven category winners to present to you. This popular class is your opportunity to discover what the experts consider the epitome of American cheesemaking.