Minnesota Cheese Taking 2016 by storm: Lone Grazer & RedHead Creamery
Because I often drop words like drought, meyer lemons, ocean views, and wine country instead of phrases like hot dish, snow, and ice fishing, it might not be clear that my family roots run deep to Minnesota. But my mother's side of the family comes from the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Our ties to the state are as thick as my Norwegian aunt's lefsa is thin, and my love of the state's charms is as overflowing as as my uncle's freezer is with venison. I love when I see it succeed.
Minnesota Cheese Takes 2016 by Storm
So when I say that can't wait to see what 2016 brings for the artisan Minnesota cheese movement, I say it with an excited, and inspired heart. Go Minnesota! (And when I say Minnesota cheese is taking 2016 by storm,... I mean it in a gentle snowing storm kind of way because it's still a small industry, but for such a small industry, it's a blizzard!)
I'm excited about two new creameries in Minnesota especially- Lone Grazer and RedHead Creamery. Both of whose cheeses I was lucky enough to try at ACS, and both hope I get to see in shops all over the country soon. If you spot these guys featured below, grab them as soon as you can, and if you don't, ask away at shop counters, dear readers!
Lone Grazer cheese (above) is as orange as you can get. Oranger than an orange. Oranger than Red Hawk and Tallegio. And just as vibrant. With plush rinds and soft, bouncy pastes, Lone Gazer cheeses are washed rind wheels that are rubbed with tea or Minnesota hand-crafted whisky and water as they age. "Washing," or rubbing the rind encourages the growth of B. linen bacteria, and turns the rind orange and funky, and the inside sweet.
This beauty above is called Grazier's Edge and is washed with rye. The baby wheel that cheesemaker Rueben is holding in the top photo is called Hansom Cab and washed with rye and Lapsang Souchong tea. All are made with milk from grass-fed milk in Northeast Minneapolis by Mr. Rueben and his crew. Awesome. Funky. Sweet.
What happens with a farming family has a family of four redheaded girls? One of them visits a farmstead creamery at the age of 16 and decides she wants to make cheese, falls in love with a dairy farmer, visits creameries all over the world, and returns to California to start her own cheesemaking company. Still with red hair. I first learned about Alise when she emailed me asking who to visit in Ireland upon reading about my visit last fall, and then was overjoyed to stumble upon her cheese at ACS the following year. Alise makes gorgeous cheese- the type of cheese that normally takes years to perfect, and I'm so excited to see where things go for her. Her eight month-old cheddar, buttery, sweet, and lightly meaty, is made from the cows from her family's dairy just outside the creamery, as is her creamy Little Lucy featured above. Alise and her family are below.
But there's more.
More Minnesota? Oh yes, Cali style.
California is getting one half of one of Minnesota's brightest cheese stars in Santa Rosa. Keith of Alemar Cheese (who makes the oozing, buttery and earthy Bent River and Good Thunder) from Minnesota is starting an English inspired cheese company counterpart in Sonoma focusing on raw milk cheddar and blue called WM. Cofield Cheesemakers.
Are we lucky much?
Very much looking forward to 2016. With my friends and family I know that 2015 has been... long. Looking forward to things moving a little smoother, having time to write more here, and to sharing more of my latest discoveries and favorite people with you here. Happy Cheese and Cheesemaking! May your upcoming year be full of cheer, love, financial success and health. Thank you for reading.