The picturesque village of Berkswell in the central county of Warwickshire,
England is named for the Saxon chief, Bercul. In the eighth century, Bercul
converted to Christianity and was baptized in village's ancient well and thus
the village became known as Bercul's Well. Not only is Warwickshire known to be
the birthplace of William Shakespeare, but it is also where the Fletcher family
makes their highly sought-after cheese at their Elizabethan farmhouse, Ram Hall.
When former dairy farmer Steven Fletcher first dipped his hand in the cheesemaking trade, he made Berkswell -- his raw sheep's milk cheese -- using a Caerphilly recipe. However, with Fletcher's careful cultivation and commitment, Berkswell eventually developed a unique character of its own. Today, the dense and rich cheese is more like a very delicate Pecorino or Manchego than the ancient Welsh cheese. Depending on the season -- Berkswell is made between February and October -- the cheese can be milky and nutty with sweet hints of caramel or it can be intensely tangy and fruity with surprising notes of pineapple. Farm/Company: Ram Hall Cheesemaker: Stephen Fletcher & Linda Dutch Proprietor: Affineur: Neal's Yard Dairy City, State: Region: Berkswell, West Midlands Country: England Milk: Raw sheep Rennet: Vegetarian Rind: Plasticoat Texture: Hard Aging: 6-9 months Size(s): 8 pound
in southeastern Minnesota -- one of the richest agricultural regions of
the state -- rests Shepherd's Way Farms. On this small farm, a family
of six lovingly and tirelessly raises sheep in order to hand make a
variety of cheeses. In January 2005, Shepherd's Way Farms suffered an
extreme hardship in the form of a very destructive fire. Destroying a
nursery barn, the fire killed most of the flock. Aided by an immense
outpouring of local support as well as support from various Slow Food
communities, the family and farm are still managing to put out their
delicious cheeses as they slowly recover from this horrific tragedy.
Big and beefy, Big Wood's Blue is creamy with an irresistible sharpness that is undeniably blue. However, blue cheese skeptics should not be afraid because the richness of the sheep's milk perfectly balances the intensity.
Farm/Company: Shepherd's Way Cheesemaker: Jodi Read Proprietor: Steven & Jodi Read Affineur: City, State: Nerstrand, Minnesota Region: Midwest Country: USA Milk: Raw Sheep Rennet: Vegetarian Rind: None Texture: Semi-firm Aging: 3-4 months Size(s): 6-7 pounds
The emerald green hills of
Devon yield not only the richest clotted cream teas found in England, but also
some of the most delicious cheeses. Robin Congden can be found making such
cheese on the Sharpham Estate, which overlooks the Dart estuary near Totnes.
Beenleigh Blue is a rich, soft sheep blue that is aged for six months. Often compared to France's signature blue, Roquefort, Beenleigh is mellower and sweeter than Roquefort with a moist and crumbly texture. Beenleigh has gentle blue-green veins shooting through the ivory paste and is one of only three blue ewes' milk cheeses made currently in Britain. Plan ahead with this rich cheese because it is only available from early summer through to winter. Farm/Company: Sharpham Barton Cheesemaker: Robin Congdon & Nick Tranet Proprietor: Affineur: Neal's Yard Dairy City, State: Region: Totnes, Devon Country: England Milk: Pasteurized sheep Rennet: Vegetarian Rind: Natural, wrapped in foil. Texture: Semi-soft Aging: 4-9 months Size(s): 6-8 pound cylinders
situated among the softly flowing green hills and fertile pastures of central
Wisconsin, the Carr Valley Cheese Company has been making cheese for over a
century. Sid Cook, the current fourth-generation owner, is one of a small group
of certified Master Cheesemakers in the United States and he, along with the
rest of the Carr Valley Cheese Company, makes a select variety of cheeses. From
traditional and smoked Cheddars to Colbys and more unknown varieties like
Benedictine, Carr Valley Cheese Company pairs old-world traditions with
creativity to make each cheese.
A beautiful example of a mixed milk cheese, Benedictine marries fresh sheep, goat, and cow's milk this washed rind offering. Cellar cured and hand-rubbed for twelve weeks, the cheese is creamy and intense and saturates your taste buds with a tingly unctuousness before finishing with an earthy complexity. Farm/Company: Carr Valley Cheese Co Cheesemaker: Sid Cook Proprietor: Affineur: City, State: La Velle, Wisconsin Region: Midwest Country: USA Milk: Pasteurized cow, goat & sheep Rennet: Rind: No rind Texture: Semi-firm Aging: 4 months Size(s): 9 pound wheel
Elk Creamery is happily situated on the perfumed property
of Flowers by the Sea, a certified organic, biodynamic flower, and vegetable farm
located slightly south of Fort Bragg, California. Closely following Rudolph
Steiner's teachings and methods of cultivation and earth husbandry, Elk Creamery
- along with Flowers by the Sea - seeks to establish sustainable and holistic
harmony between people, plants, animals, and environment. In order to do this,
the people of Elk Creamery and Flowers by the Sea work to maximize the
health and vitality of all their crops and animals.
Made with goat milk, Black Gold is creamy, salty, and tangy, and in the area immediately under its soft, ash-coated rind Black Gold also delivers a signature peppery kick.
After learning the delicate
craft of European artisanal cheesemaking on a family farm in Brittany, France in
the 70s, Allison Hooper was working as a state dairy lab technician in Vermont
when she got a call that would materially change her career path. In his
capacity as the marketing director of the Vermont Department of Agriculture, Bob
Reese was on the hunt for chevre to serve at a special state dinner. Today, that
would seem like an easy enough need to fill but in the 80s, things were
different. However, Bob had a feeling Allison might be able to help him out.
Allison made the chevre herself and so successful was that cheese that Bob and
Allison started thinking about making a business out of it. Over twenty years
later, Vermont Butter & Cheese Company is still making artisanal dairy products
in the European tradition while championing local farms.
With a delicate mild rind that is gently wrinkled in the French tradition, Bijou is smooth and creamy with fresh, clean, goat flavors. You might also be able to detect notes of fresh flowers and hazelnuts in this rich round. Farm/Company: Vermont Butter & Cheese Cheesemaker: Proprietor: Allison Hooper & Bob Reese Affineur: City, State: Websterville, Vermont Region: Northeast Country: USA Milk: Pasteurized Goat Rennet: Vegetarian Rind: Surface Ripened Texture: Soft Aging: 2 weeks Size(s): 2 ounce rounds
While spending time in Perugia, Italy, Paula Lambert became enamored of
Italian cheese, specifically fresh mozzarella. Once back home in Dallas,
Texas, Lambert realized that she would be unable to get her hands or mouth
on quality mozzarella unless she made it herself. Thus, twenty-four years
ago, Paula Lambert's Mozzarella Company was born. Using milk from local
dairies, Mozzarella Company now produces a wide variety of specialty
With a golden rind that formed after a daily massage of white wine, Blanca Bianca is creamy and luscious with a subtle fruitiness. Farm/Company: Mozzarella Company Cheesemaker: Proprietor: Affineur: Paula Lambert City, State: Dallas, Texas Region: South Country: USA Milk: Raw Cow Rennet: Rind: Washed Texture: Soft Aging: 60 days Size(s):
Mary Keehn got started on
the goat cheese trail in the 1970s when she decided to raise Alpine goats as a
source of healthful milk for her children. Not too long after, Mary started
receiving awards for her herd and became recognized as an expert in the field.
Blessed with an excess of milk from fifty goats, Mary started making cheese in
Situated where the giant redwoods kiss the Pacific Ocean in the rugged northernmost reaches of Humboldt County, California, Cypress Grove Creamery gets unique inspiration from the salt-etched voluminous fog that coolly rolls in nearly every day.
One of the more unique aged cheeses you'll come across, Bermuda Triangle is a six-inch long triangular prism of pure white goat cheese. Bermuda Triangle's distinctive double rind -- one of ash covered by a layer of velvety white bloom -- encourages a firm, smooth interior. Farm/Company: Cypress Grove Cheesemaker: Mary Keehn Proprietor: Mary Keehn Affineur: City, State: McKinleyville, California Region: West Country: USA Milk: Pasteurized Goat Rennet: Vegetarian Rind: White mold, with ash Texture: Soft Aging: 2 weeks Size(s): 14 ounces