American Cheese Month: 5 Makers to Watch
It’s October. Farm animals are pondering winter’s long retreat, neighbors rake golden leaves from green laws, gourds are making their annual appearances on kitchen tables, and American Cheese Month is upon us. Meaning, we must eat more American cheese to support producers. It’s tough being a cheese lover, isn’t it?
Whose cheese to eat? It’s a tough question. There are so many.
I suggest try all of them; bring American cheese month with you into November if need be. But, if you are limited on time or stomach space and want some recs, here are five of my favorites in no particular order. Keep an eye on these guys. They’re either new wonders, or continiously surprising with their wheels.
1. Tomales Farmstead, Point Reyes, California:
Photos at top. The first thing Tomales did when they bought their farm was to take three years to re-plant the region’s native plants on their land. Then they got animals. Then they made cheese, and it was gorgeous. Oh and there’s also this.
3 of my Tomales faves: cream cheese (really, so simple and good), Atika, Kenne
2. Redhead Creamery, Brooten, Minnesota
What happens when a farming family has four redheaded girls? One visits a farmstead creamery at the age of 16, decides she wants to make cheese, falls in love with a dairy farmer, visits creameries all over the world, and returns to Minnesota to start her own cheesemaking company.
3 of my Redheaded faves: North Fork Whiskey Washed Munster, Betise, Lucky Linda
Because whether she’s tweaking a recipe or stamping her signature heart on a new cheese she made, Seana’s always doing some exciting. She uses both the milk of her own ewes and buys Jersey milk and water buffalo milk (yes, you read that right) to consistently make some of the most exciting cheeses in the country.
3 of my Bleating Heart faves: Fat Bottom Girl, Shepherdista, Buff Blue
Benton and Boyle bought their Crown Finish building- sort of an office/warehouse/loft space- in 2001 and started to ready it for renters and food service. Then they started to think, hey, not only were the old subway tunnels underneath the building cool looking, the cool looking old subway tunnels would be perfect for aging cheese. They had the right temperature, humidity, and air flow (once the filters started pumping away) and ample space. Read more here. I know, not a cheesemaker, but a damn good affineur.
3 of my Crown Height faves: Trifectas, Kashar, Gate Keeper
5. Boxcarr Cheese, Cedar Grove, North Carolina
An Italian cheesemaker in North Carolina teams up with first generation American farmers with Piedmont roots? The end (or just the beginning) is some of the best robiola-style cheese outside of Piedmont. In limited amounts all over, and worth seeking out.
3 of my Boxcarr faves: Rosie’s robiola, Weanling Button, Cottonseed