Editor's note: This story was originally published on April 16, 2018.
As artisanal cheese continues to grow in popularity, newcomers to the cheese case should fear not! We’ve enlisted one of the cheese world’s foremost experts as our guide to the delicious and diverse flavors of artisan cheese.
Meet Adeline Druart, president of Vermont Creamery. Adeline and the team at Vermont Creamery recently took home top honors the World Championship Cheese Contest, winning “Best in Class” for their Coupole, after earning six wins at the annual American Cheese Society Competition last year. Adeline has spent her career immersed in the art and science of cheesemaking and has a passion for delighting consumers with new, innovative flavors.
The spring of 2019 marked the two-year anniversary of Vermont Creamery joining Land O’Lakes, bringing together two brands that share a culture based on strong rural values and an appreciation for purpose and people. Vermont Creamery is a pioneer in the artisan cheesemaking movement, using unique, high-quality ingredients in their award-winning products. Together with Land O’Lakes, Vermont Creamery is leading new growth and innovation across both organizations in the growing dairy business.
5 tips for buying, tasting, pairing & cooking with cheese
”Cheese doesn’t need to be fussy or intimidating,” says Adeline. “When shopping for cheese, trust your senses, choose cheeses you like and build your repertoire over time.”
Ask Questions! Befriend your friendly neighborhood cheesemonger. Find a cheese shop you love or a particularly well-stocked counter at your favorite specialty grocery store. Cheesemongers are eager to share their passion for, and knowledge of cheese. Ask them what’s in season, what’s tasting especially good this week, and above all -- ask for a sample!
Smell, taste, savor. Cheese doesn’t always taste like it smells, but sometimes it does. Give it a good smell before you taste it and try to identify any aromatic notes before tasting. Once you taste it, see if the aromas match its flavor. Let the cheese do a little lap around your pallet to experience the full depth of flavor.
Don’t fear the rind! Most cheese rinds are edible and introduce a whole new world of flavors and aromas. There are several types of rinds; at Vermont Creamery, we craft geotrichum-rinded cheeses. They look brainy and wrinkled but are supple and delicious.
Learn a little lingo. Keep your adjectives simple at the start. Is the cheese sweet? Salty? Acidic? Bitter? Sour? How does it feel in your mouth? Creamy? Crumbly? Learning how to identify flavor, texture and appearance is half the battle.
Take your cheese out of the fridge one hour prior to serving, allowing it to come to room temperature.
Choose 3-5 cheeses, and plan on 1-2 ounces of cheese per person.
Accompaniments are key. Choose rustic bread and crackers that won't overshadow the cheese. Fresh pears, apples, figs, and grapes or dried apricots, cranberries and cherries are all good choices. If you want to include berries, they are best served in the form of compotes, jams, and chutneys. Pickled veggies, nuts and charcuterie are also great additions.
Now, if you’re itching to put your new found knowledge to the test, good news! Vermont Creamery recently made some new additions to their roster of cheeses, using ingredients as unique and dynamic as the state they are made in.
The new Blueberry, Lemon and Thyme fresh goat cheese logs are rolled in wild North American blueberries that are authentically sweet. Try it with a green salad.
No matter how you choose to enjoy your artisan cheese, remember the most important rule: there are no rules. Just taste and enjoy!