What's Your Favorite Local Cheese?
Ed's post from yesterday got me thinking about locally made cheeses, and how lucky I am to be in New York City, close to the prolific cheese-producing areas of the Northeast. The Hudson Valley is filled with cheesemakers, and more open up every year. Coach Farm in Pine Plains, New York, has been around for almost 20 years and makes wonderful fresh and aged goat cheeses, as well as goat milk and yogurt.
Relative newcomer Nettle Meadow Farm in Thurman, New York, makes an amazing triple cream Camembert-style cheese called Kunik that's buttery-rich, tangy, slightly grassy and is made with goat's milk and Jersey cow cream.
New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts are also home to a good many artisan and farmstead producers. New Jersey's Valley Shepherd Creamery makes fantastic French- and Spanish-style sheep's milk cheeses and sells them regularly at the Union Square Greenmarket on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Also occasionally at this farmers' market is Connecticut's Cato Corner Farm, whose raw cow's milk cheeses are complex and delicious (their Hooligan is one of the best washed-rind cheeses in America). Great Hill Dairy in Marion, Massachusetts, near Buzzard's Bay, makes one of the few raw-milk American blue cheeses. And of course if you count Vermont as local to New York City, you open yourself up to almost 40 more farmstead cheesemakers.
The Northeast isn't nearly the only great American cheesemaking region either. The Midwest, which includes the great dairy state of Wisconsin, is home to some incredible artisan cheesemakers such as Uplands Cheese Company and Carr Valley Cheese. There's even a Wisconsin-focused cheese blog called Cheese Underground.
The Pacific coast is also home to many artisan cheesemakers. California is poised to overtake Wisconsin as largest cheese-producing state in the country and is home to Cypress Grove, makers of the incredible Humboldt Fog. Beecher's Handmade, in Seattle's Pike Place Market, makes Beecher's Flagship Reserve, an aged Cheddar-style cheese that was runner-up for the Best in Show award at this year's American Cheese Society Competition. Like Wisconsin, the Pacific Northwest also has a blog dedicated to following its many artisan cheesemakers.
So, Serious Eaters, what are your favorite local cheeses? If you don't know whether there are any cheesemakers near you, pick up a copy of Jeffrey Roberts's new book, The Atlas of American Artisan Cheese, which features listings of more than 350 small producers.