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Two days (and 20 cheeses) in New York! My top 5 favorite American Cheeses | The Cheese Course Blog

Two days (and 20 cheeses) in New York! My top 5 favorite American Cheeses

Recently I was lucky enough to meet up with Kristin Kosmoski, Marketing Manager at The Cheese Course on a short visit through NYC. Of course, my number one item on the agenda was CHEESE TASTING! This was to be my first time trying American Cheeses and I had a big cheesy hit-list to work my way through. New York is an amazing city for foodies, there is just so much it’s overwhelming. From cheese shops to cheese restaurants, concept stores and tasting bars, you can find it all.

Rachel Bajada Cheese Tasting in NYC

Clockwise from top left: Humboldt Chevre, Rogue River Blue x 2, Rachel, Truffle Tremor, Cremont, Tarantaise

Over two days I tasted approximately 20 American cheeses; it was fascinating to discover such a rich and diverse range of excellent quality cheeses each expressing the unique qualities of the region, pastures, climate and local produce. Crumbly, waxed goat milk cheddars, wished rinds, tommes, fresh cheeses, and some really creative originals that were nothing at all like European cheeses. I have to say, living in France, the French consider themselves the cheese mecca of the world, and they sure do have a lot to be proud of. So I may not be French but I am rather bias when it comes to cheeses so I admit I was skeptical that America- known as the home of plastic cheese and industrial cheddar, could produce such exceptional products. My mind was open, and blown away. As ironic as it is, many Americans came to France from the 50’s onwards where they learned cheese-making from the French themselves, taking these skills and knowledge back to the US where idyllic conditions and mini-terroirs produced perfect regions for cheese making. Whilst America’s cheese industry has been exploding, France’s is actually dying. Of the 100-150 raw milk cheeses available, three disappear each year, meaning around 40 have become extinct in the last decade. And while Americans, Australians and Britons are increasingly going for unpasteurized cheese, in France raw milk cheeses dropped to 179,750 tonnes in 2008 against 183,500 tonnes in 2006.

So while the golden days for cheese in Europe may be over, it’s so encouraging to see that the new world is embracing the old, and that cheese-making is evolving to new heights abroad. Hooray for American cheese-making! In homage to my love for American cheeses, I have put together my top 5 and made a small video review for 3 of them.

Enjoy!

Here is my top 5: (The Cheese Course stocks all of these cheeses – find your local store here)

1. Rogue River Blue – Rogue Creamery, Oregon

This is one incredible blue cheese – everything about it is impressive. The first thing that came to my mind when I tasted this cheese was “passion fruit!” and reminded me of salty passion fruit butter. Not sure where that comes from, but the fact that this cheese, reminiscent of a Roquefort is wrapped in vine leaves soaked in pear brandy, contributes to its complex fruity flavor profile. Award-winning cheese-maker, David Gremmels even hand-picks every single grape leaf himself.

Check out my quick tasting/video review below:


2. Humboldt Fog Chèvre – Cyprus Grove, California

I have been forever waiting to try this cheese. Seeing it everywhere online, its beautiful presentation and story had me excited about trying this cheese. Relatively young goats milk cheese with a layer of ash though the center, pays homage to the French Morbier. The line of ash represents the low fog which settles on the valley in the early morning – now isn’t that beautiful! Its texture and complexity is truly divine – crumby on the inside, sensually smooth and creamy on the outside, its textural contrast and flavor depth only increases as it matures. Celebrating its 20th year, the Humboldt Fog Chèvre is my new coup de coeur! Enjoy it whilst it’s young if you like a milder chèvres, and keep it for a few weeks if you’re ready for a goat cheese with serious depth and zing.

Check out my quick tasting/video review below:



3. Truffle Tremor Chèvre
– Cyprus Grove, California

The name speaks for itself. This cheese is tremor-worthy with goodness. Not everyone is a truffle fan, but for lovers or truffle, and those who are not sure, this one is a big pleaser. The truffle character is subtle and lingering, it doesn’t hit you right away, and of course, the smell is positively intoxicating. In the same way that Humboldt Fog ripens, Truffle Tremor also has that characteristic oozing rind and crumbly center. Serve it with wild mushrooms or grilled on toast with fresh thyme… divine!

Check out my quick tasting/video review below:

4. Cremont – Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery

Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery’s Cremont to me stands for one thing: creamy comfort. This cheese is rich, luxurious, intense and purely indulgent. A double-cream dream, Cremont is made from a mix of cows and goats milk. It reminds me of a Saint Felicien, maybe even Saint Marcelin, but it’s actually richer and more buttery. Let this baby melt at room temperature and dip in with a fresh sourdough baguette and slice of San Daniele prosciutto and you’re in heaven.

5. Tarantaise – Springbrook Farm, Vermont

Again, another wonderful American cheese inspired by French cheese making and named after the valley in the French Alps. Made from raw Jersey cow milk, the cheese curds are treated in a similar fashion to comté and beaufort. Aged approximately 12 months with a washed rind, this cheese has seriously satisfying bite, complex roasted nutty aroma contrasted by fresh grassiness. It’s buttery, full bodied and bounces between sweet and savory throughout the whole experience. I can think of so many uses for this cheese in cooking, aside from the pure enjoyment of just eating it on its own.

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Who is Rachel? Check out her profile here

So, what do you think?