Vermont Farmstead Cheddar
Notes: When I think Vermont, I think cheddar. I think rolling, vibrant pastures and crisp mountains. And here you have it! Vermont Farmstead Cheddar is a lovely and classic raw-milk version. It's what you want from good ol' cheddar: subtle sweetness and lingering notes of butter and fruit. The curd is milled using Vermont Farmstead's peg mill, which produces a unique, more open texture than other cheddars.
Serve: Cheddar and broccoli! Cheddar soup! Cheddar melted all over your baked potato! Apple pie + CHEDDAR!
Jasper Hill Farm Constant Bliss
Notes: Andy and Mateo Kehler bought Jasper Hill Farm in 1998, and immediately got to work making incredible stuff. The name says it all. Under the felty rind is a milky, earthy paste—soft but not runny, pleasantly light. Aged only 60 days, Constant Bliss is one of the youngest raw milk cheese you'll find in the States, legally at least. The Kehler brothers win—the sky-high quality of the sweet Ayshire milk shines through big time.
Serve: Beside pears and a crusty baguette. And pop a bottle of bubbly!
Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery Cremont
Notes: A Vermont love fest, this cheese from Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery is made of local Green Mountain cows' milk, goats' milk, and a hint of Vermont cream. The name is a shorter version of "Cream of Vermont." Cut open the crinkly, wrinkly rind to find smooth-as-silk, mouth-coating, creamy goodness.
Serve: Smear on good bread for breakfast, with a drizzle of honey. Serve beside a green salad and call it lunch.
Spring Brook Farms Tarentaise
Notes: Inspired by the beloved alpine cheese Abondance, John Putnam has been crafting Tarentaise from organic, grass-fed cow's milk at Thistle Hill Farm since July 2002. Every Jersey cow in his herd has a name. Curds are cut by hand with a harp, then aged in Thistle Hill Farm's caves where they're lovingly rubbed and flipped and coaxed for 10 months. The result of all this painstaking work? An assertive but balanced 20-pound wheel—grassy, nutty, buttery, and lovely.
Serve: With a fruity, juicy Pinot Noir or a mellow lager. Awesome on a grilled cheese, with sweet butter and scallions sliced lengthwise, on pumpernickel.
Consider Bardwell Farm Dorset
Notes: In 1864, Mr. Consider Bardwell launched the very first cheesemaking co-op in West Pawlet, Vermont. These days, Consider Bardwell makes several cheeses, each one awesome. I have a special place in my heart for the slightly barnyardy, buttery, lavish Dorset. It's made with cow's milk from Lisa Kaimen's farm of 30 Jersey cows, located next door. The cheese gets washed as it ages, intensifying the flavors. Dorset is semisoft and rich, with a finish that goes on and on and on.
Serve: With a cold, tall glass of beer and hearty sourdough bread.
Jasper Hill Bayley Hazen Blue
Notes: Bayley Hazen Blue is named for the Bayley Hazen Military Road, planned during the Revolutionary War as a route for the invasion and capture of Canada. The raw milk from the Kehler brothers' herd of 50 Ayrshire cows, and pierced with Penicilium roqueforti. The result is a sweet, grassy cheese imparted with peppery, funky, blue.
Serve: With a foamy stout, or an off-dry Riesling. Makes a killer addition to grilled cheese, or a salad with sliced-real-thin pears and toasted walnuts.
Notes: A Vermont Farmstead take on French coulommiers, and every bit as sumptuous. Soft ripened with a downy white bloom and an all-out, no-holds-barred rich, creamy body. There's a bit of hazelnut and mushroom to balance all that buttery-ness.
Serve: With hard cider. Sherry. Dried figs. Sweet strawberries.
Notes: Great cheddar is encased in layers of cloth and aged, allowing caramel-y, savory, nutty flavors to come into their delicious own. Vermont cheddar producer, Cabot Creamery, teams up with the Kehler brothers at Jasper Hill Farm to create what might be the best American cheddar ever: Cabot Clothbound. The baby 40 lb. wheels are sent over to the Cellars at Jasper Hill, where they are bandaged and aged for about a year, until the cheddar gets fantastically rich, earthy, horseradish-y, and ethereal. Crumbly. Awesome.
Serve: With spiced apple cider, or a brown ale. Apple slices and crispy crackers can't hurt.
Von Trapp Oma
Notes: Brothers Sebastian and Dan Von Trapp (yes, they are decedents of those Von Trapps) are up to something wonderful in Vermont's Mad River Valley. Namely, this semi-soft, smooth as silk, just-a-tad-stinky goodness, made from organic, raw cow's milk. We've sung this cheese's praises before. Maybe it's that raw Vermont milk to credit for its exceptional complexity and nuance and yum factor.
Serve: With a pinot noir and your favorite charcuterie. Or smear on dark bread with Calvados and call it dessert.