Cheese is an elegant way to start or end a holiday meal. The occasion calls for something special, and putting together an exceptional cheese plate doesn’t have to be a complicated affair. A special cheese, like these selections from Wisconsin, can shine on their own or with a simple accompaniment. They’re best enjoyed with friends and family as you celebrate the holiday season.
Rush Creek Reserve
Rush Creek Reserve from Uplands Cheese made a big splash when it was introduced last fall, and cheese lovers couldn’t get enough. Luckily, this luscious, runny cheese – with a flavor that’s been compared to smoked meat – makes its return in this month. Cheesemaker Andy Hatch begins making Rush Creek Reserve as the cows transition from pasture to hay, following the seasonal cheesemaking tradition in the Alps. This indulgent cheese is aged for 60 days and will be available in limited quantities through mid-February with a three-week shelf life. Hatch recommends drizzling it on potatoes or toast and pairing with a Riesling or IPA.
Sartori Reserve continues to add unique flavors to its BellaVitano® line and one of its latest introductions – Espresso BellaVitano – begs to be served at the holiday brunch or dessert table. Sartori hand-rubs freshly roasted espresso into sweet, sugary BellaVitano wheels aged to creamy perfection. The cheese received a silver medal at the 2010 World Cheese Awards. With such a bold flavor, Espresso BellaVitano doesn’t need much in the way of pairings. Dried blueberries make a subtle and sweet companion.
Hook’s Cheese is releasing the 2011 batch of its highly sought-after 15-Year Cheddar in early November, and it’s sure to go quickly. Considered the oldest Cheddar on the market, it typically retails between $50 and $75 a pound. Cheesemaker Tony Hook says the cheese has a well-developed flavor without the bitterness often associated with aged Cheddars. Hook’s also offers 12-Year, 10-Year and 7-Year Cheddars with wonderful aged flavor. Try pairing with a hearty stout beer or tawny port.
Gouda with Cloves and Cumin
Marieke Penterman of Holland’s Family Cheese starts with her Old World Gouda recipe and flavors it with ingredients found in her native Holland. Her Gouda with Cloves and Cumin combines subtle spiciness with the caramel notes in the cheese. Try this cheese with Drunk Figs steeped in red wine or Maple Balsamic Pecans. Find both recipes from cheese blogger Madame Fromage in our Thanksgiving Entertaining feature.