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Thanksgiving Cheese 2014

Our top Thanksgiving cheese picks for 2014: Shelburne 2 Year Cheddar, Verano, Bayley Hazen Blue, and Sage Farm’s fresh goat cheese

One of our favorite ways to celebrate Thanksgiving is with a round up of some of New England’s best cheeses. While we love the fruits of Europe’s great cheese-making traditions, Thanksgiving is the perfect time of year to reflect on and celebrate American cheese makers, and our country’s own tradition of beautiful cheeses of all milk types and textures. This year, our Cambridge store’s domestic cheese buyer Tripp, along with the rest of the cheese team, have brought together four of our favorite Vermont cheeses for a perfect addition to the holiday table!

Shelburne Farms 2 Year Cheddar

Founded in 1886 as a model agricultural estate, Shelburne Farms sits on the edge of Lake Champlain in Shelburne Vermont, just fifteen minutes south of Burlington. In addition to their successful dairy, vegetable, and sustainable forestry programs, Shelburne Farms also runs an nonprofit dedicated to conservation education, and in 2001 it was named a National Historic Landmark. Their Vermont farmhouse cheddar is made solely with raw milk from their herd of grass-fed Brown Swiss cows, and comes in a variety of ages. Our favorite is this two-year old cheddar, which has a delightful crumbly texture and turns creamy on the palate.

Verano

One of the the original New England artisan cheesemakers, David Major raises sheep with his wife and family in Westminster Vermont. They model their sheep’s milk cheeses after aged mountain cheeses of the Pyrénées, and Verano in particular has caught the attention of cheese lovers on both sides of the Atlantic. Verano, which means “summer” in Spanish, is made with their herd’s summer milk. The sheep’s summer diet of wild herbs and grasses gives their milk, and resulting cheese, extra herbaceous notes in it’s earthy sweetness. This cheese is wonderful with classic pairings, like the cherry jam from staff-favorite Boutique Arraya. It also pairs wonderfully with more seasonal tart treats like Wood’s Cider Jelly!

Bayley Hazen Blue

Recently crowned the “best unpasteurized cheese in the world” at the 2014 World Cheese Awards in England, Bayley Hazen Blue regularly features as another Formaggio Kitchen staff favorite. The creamy, crumbly texture of Bayley Hazen Blue is an immediate stand-out among blue-veined cheeses, with flavors of sweet grass and peppery spice. The Ayrshire cow’s milk provides a nutty, pleasantly farmy foundation for this complex cheese. Jasper Hill Farm in far north Greensboro Vermont makes phenomenal cheeses using milk from their small herd of Ayrshire cows. They also run an expansive, top-notch aging facility used by many of the state’s other producers including the much-loved Cabot Clothbound Cheddar.

Sage Farm

Molly and Katie Pindell have been making cheese in Stowe Vermont since 2008. Together with their small herd of registered Alpine goats, they produce some of our favorite fresh goat cheeses made in Vermont. Styled after the French classic Valencay, Sterling is dusted with ash and aged for just two weeks, and it’s smooth texture yields a rich, tart flavor. Madonna is denser, but still creamy, with a brighter, lemony flavor that pairs beautifully with New England honey.

 

All four cheeses are available together online as part of our Thanksgiving Cheese Bundle, paired with Vermont’s own Castleton Crackers and Wood’s Cider Jelly.

For more Thanksgiving cheese ideas, check out our 2012 Thanksgiving Cheese Board, and our 2011 picks for celebrating America-the-melting-pot with international cheeses!

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Chef Eduardo's Mac and Cheese

Chef Eduardo’s Mac and Cheese

It should come as no surprise that staff members here at Formaggio Kitchen are pretty passionate about mac and cheese. Everyone has a different take on their favorite – affected by how they had it growing up, pasta shapes and, of course, cheese preferences. As with the grilled cheese survey of a few months ago, I took a little stroll around the shop to see just how varied folks’ notion of this classic dish were. Here are the results! (more…)

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Cabot Clothbound Cheddar

Cabot Clothbound Cheddar (note the batch date at right)

Every two months or so, Tripp, our domestic cheese buyer in Cambridge, and I, domestic cheese buyer for our South End location, drive up to Greensboro, Vermont and visit with our friends at the Cellars at Jasper Hill. The purpose of these trips is primarily to select new wheels of Cabot Clothbound Cheddar.

Artisan cheeses, like Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, tend to differ slightly from one batch to another – even wheels made one day apart and aged under the same conditions, can be surprisingly different. These variations can be attributed to the season, to changes in the weather and to what the cows might have munched on the day they were milked. I like to think of it as a sort of time capsule, a way of capturing a moment of the farm’s existence in time. (more…)

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Cheesemonger IlhanI’ve been a cheesemonger for a long time and a cheese enthusiast for even longer. Through all that, I have to say that one of the most distinctive memories I have from my cheese life is the first time I tried Montgomery’s Farmhouse Cheddar.

Most people don’t think of cheddar as a fancy cheese, mainly because we have all heard of it and eaten it since we were little kids. Besides Kraft singles it’s probably the main cheese most of us grew up on. When I started getting into fancy cheese as a late teenager, I kind of expected that process to be a sort of branching out from cheddar, just eating lots of moldy, runny, stinky things; that is, until I tried Montgomery’s cloth-bound for the first time. (more…)

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Neal's Yard Dairy Covent Garden Shop
We carry a wide selection of cheeses from the British Isles: Stilton, Keen’s, Ardrahan, Berkswell, Montgomery’s, Wensleydale and Stichelton to name but a few. One of the reasons we can count on this rich diversity and exceptional quality is the passionate team of cheese caretakers at Neal’s Yard Dairy. (more…)

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Cabot Clothbound cheddar and heirloom applesSpring may be the season of rebirth, but we can’t help a similar feeling of renewal when September rolls around: new season, new school year, cooler temperatures (at least in the northeast). Autumn is also the time to celebrate the harvest – particularly the new batch of apples, that most emblematic of fall crops. Fresh or preserved, apples are a simple and versatile addition to any cheese plate. (more…)

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Hafod at Formaggio Kitchen

Part of what makes Formaggio Kitchen such a special place to work, as you may have gleaned from our other posts, is that our products, and our cheeses in particular, are sourced directly from producers and affineurs rather than second or third hand via American importers and distributors. As you can imagine, if you’ve seen our cheese selection, this is a pretty enormous task, so several of us play a part. My role, among other things, is that of British Isles cheese buyer. (more…)

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