Fifty Best Cheese
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  Country: United States  
San Joaquin Gold

San Joaquin Gold
Modesto, CA, USA
Produced by Fiscalini Farmstead

This is the great American Grana. The cheese is salty and rich, with all the flavors of a good Parmigianino, played off a well-aged cheddar. The salty paste tastes almost like walnuts fried in butter.

 

  Country: Spain  

La Serena
Extramadura, Spain
Spanish DO, EU PDO

The unctuous sheep cheeses made in the rough wilds of the Spanish/Portuguese border have a peculiar quality. The addition of Cardoon thistle, the only naturally occurring vegetable rennet, creates a sensationally strong flavor, and super runny texture. The cheese has a strong acrid smell, and a slightly vinegary taste. This one often has a citric bitterness, like lime rinds.

La Serena Cheese

 

  Country: Switzerland  
Stanser Schafkäse

Stanser Schafkäse
Bern, Switzerland
Aged by Beeler

Another not to be missed sheep cheese, this Stanser owes its awesomely rich, nutty sheep taste to the caves of Maître fromager Affineur Rolf Beeler. Rolf is a master of the washed rind style, rare for this type of cheese. It's nice to see the usually mellow ewe's milk balanced by a decidedly decayed undertone.

 

  Country: France  

Saint-Marcellin
Dauphin, France

This is back woods Brie! A very simply made, acid curd cheese. Tart and fluffy when young, but will ripen into a very runny, earthy, zippy cheese. It's a perfect lunch with some pilsner, crusty bread and a cacciatorini.

Saint-Marcellin

 

  Country: United States  
Grayson

Grayson
Galax, Va, USA
Produced by Meadow Creek Dairy

The farmers at Meadow Creek have produced a truly astonishing cheese. They aimed for a Taleggio-style, but hit perhaps closer to a Trappist style. The cheese is big and beefy, with the strong aromatics of a washed rind, but still soft enough for anyone to enjoy. The color is a bold bright yellow, an indicator of the very high quality raw milk they coax from their Jersey cows. This will please the cheese initiate, and open the eyes of the novice.

 

  Country: Italy  

Pecorino Di Pienza
Tuscany, Italy

Of all the Pecorinos in Italy, those of Pienza are perhaps the greatest. Wonderful when eaten young, they age in a mature balanced way, and never fall to the extremes as other aged pecorinos do. They are studies in subtle power, elegant, nutty, slightly salty, and perfect with some Chianti.

Pecorino Di Pienza

 

  Country: France  
Fium'Orbu

Fium'Orbu
Corsica

This rare, washed sheep from Corsica is a real treat. The power of sheep's milk coupled with a strong washed rind means a rich, fatty paste that's also super stank. It's like eating rancid bacon fat and mayo, and loving it.

 

  Country: Italy  

Piave
Veneto, Italy

We all know how wonderful Parmigianino is, but sometimes it can be a little overwhelming. Enter Piave. This is a grana you can eat all day long. The sharp, fruity kick is balanced by a sweet cooked cream taste, and a faint hint of the mountain pastures the animals graze in. Ideal for grating or eating.

Piave

 

  Country: United States  

Sally Jackson Sheep/Goat Cheese

Sally Jackson Sheep/Goat
Oroville, WA, USA
Produced by Sally Jackson Farm

Sally Jackson makes one type of cheese, a simple pressed cheese wrapped in leaves. Whether she uses goat, cow, or sheep's milk, her cheese showcases the power of excellent quality raw milk. They are fragrant and earthy, and taste distinctly of the various microflora present in the milk. Seek out their yeasty tang whenever you can.

 

  Country: France  

Charolais
Burgundy, France

Usually you want French goat's milk from the Loire, but Burgundy makes some great goat too. Be sure to find this guy. He's still fluffy and tart like a Loire chevre, but the flavor is a little more dirt, a little less stone. Some of the best Charolais have a touch of cow's milk added. When these cheeses are aged, they pick up a great lemony quality that sits nicely with Pinot Noir.

Charolais

 



 
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