Fresh Chevre, Caromont Farm – This is a light, tangy cheese. The texture is airy, smooth but with a little crumble. It’s a perfect breakfast cheese – a little bit of protein with an English muffin and some fig jam. There’s a nice balance of salt and cream in the cheese, which means you can snack away and not feel cheesed out.
Sandy Bottom, Sullivan’s Pond Farm – I must admit, I picked this up accidentally, meaning instead to grab Chesapeake Blue, a blue chevrette, wrapped in grape leaves that I absolutely adore. The flavor of Chesapeake Blue is perfectly moldy; and the unique (not to mention ecofriendly) packaging make it great for host gifts, if you find yourself needing one. Sandy Bottom is much more straightforward – a creamy chevre brightened with cracked black pepper. The semi-soft cheese has black pepper rind and is wrapped in corn husk leaves.
Cheddar, Eberly Farm – Eberly Farm ain’t got time for Facebook. By all indications, they don’t have time for the internet whatsoever, which is somehow comforting as a contrast to the daily bombardment of brands online. That said, I’d still like to see a little something from them on the ‘nets. There is 0. Eberly Farm’s milk is used to make a variety of cheeses – from pepperjack and havarti styles to cheddars, plain or flavored. Their unflavored cheddar is a good gateway cheese because it’s infinitely approachable. It’s a mild white cheddar with the slightest hint of sharpness, made from artificial-hormone-free milk. Shred it for tacos; slice it for sandwiches; cube it and serve with apples. You get it; it’s cheddar.
Mountaineer, Meadow Creek Dairy – I’ve made plenty of fuss about Meadow Creek Dairy this week because each of their cheeses is a triumph. Grayson, a semi-soft grassy brie-style cheese might be their lead singer, but Mountaineer, a cow’s milk cheese with a reliable nuttiness and gruyere-like flavor is the drummer – dependable and consistent with its own distinct personality and following, a clear example of their talents. I have dreams about making this cheese into fondue and then dipping everything in that doesn’t run away. I’ll let you know how that turns out.
Spicy Plum Chutney, VA Chutney Co. – VA Chutney Company is a Rappahanock County-based company that produces a variety of southern-style chutneys, my favorite of which is the Spicy Plum Chutney. The chutney works particularly well with these cheeses because it lends a subtly spiced counterpoint to all that creamy goodness, and it rounds out the Virginia-only cheese plate admirably. Their green tomato chutney is also worth investigating.
VA Cheese Week got you hungry and curious? Here are a few local resources to keep you going:
The fantastic people at The Cheese Shop in Williamsburg, VA (one of my first jobs,) have an exceptional level of knowledge and excellent products to share. It is absolutely worth the trip.
In Charlottesville, Feast is the place to go, and Sara Aducci is the woman to see. Sara paid her dues as the cheese mistress at River City Cellars for years and has just started offering classes at Feast for the curd-curious.
Try this cheese paper. It extends the life of your cheeses, should that be an issue for you; and it looks extra sexy in your icebox.
Also, this local cheese Kickstarter tugged my heart strings: