Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Best New Cheeses of 2010

Posted By on Wed, Dec 15, 2010 at 5:30 PM

click to enlarge Kunik from Nettle Meadow: Goat, meet cow. - GORDON EDGAR
  • Gordon Edgar
  • Kunik from Nettle Meadow: Goat, meet cow.

Guest cheese blogger Gordon Edgar is the buyer for Rainbow Grocery and the author of Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge, published by Chelsea Green. He blogs at Gordonzola.net.

It shows the strength and popularity of the growing world of American craft cheese that not only are all of my top five new (to the Bay Area) cheeses of the year American, but I had a hard time choosing. Ten years ago I would have felt obligated to find one non-Euro cheese to mention. This year it's all American.

1. Nettle Meadow Kunik

From upstate New York, a ripened goat milk cheese made into a triple cream using Jersey cow milk. Jersey milk is the richest of all the cows and the Kunik is tangy, rich, refreshing, and fruity. Nettle Meadow Farm even runs an animal sanctuary on the premises. This is a cheese I didn't know I needed until I tried it. Now I think I'd cry if I couldn't get my hands on it.

click to enlarge Mountina from Vintage Cheese Company: Not some pale imitation of a Swiss. - GORDON EDGAR
  • Gordon Edgar
  • Mountina from Vintage Cheese Company: Not some pale imitation of a Swiss.

2. Vintage Cheese Company Mountina

"An Alpine cheese from the mountains of ... Montana." I was absolutely skeptical of this cheese before I tried it. Sure, third-generation cheese makers, blah blah blah. I expected yet another pale imitation of a baby Swiss like Jarlsberg. But no, Vintage Cheese Company's Heap brothers went to the real source for inspiration. Not only is this cheese nutty and earthy like a real Emmenthal, this is better than most Emmenthal sold in the states. Big, unexpected flavor.

click to enlarge Bonne Bouche from Vermont Butter and Cheese: Flat-out incredible. - GORDON EDGAR
  • Gordon Edgar
  • Bonne Bouche from Vermont Butter and Cheese: Flat-out incredible.

3. Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery Bonne Bouche

Okay, this is cheating for an end-of-year review, since Bonne Bouche has been available in the Bay for a couple of years now. But I include it because it is now flat-out incredible ― I'd go so far as to say that this is better than any soft-ripened French goat regularly available in the U.S., and it's made in Vermont. I was a judge at the American Cheese Society competition this fall and out of over 1,300 entries this got my vote for Best of Show. If you've tried this before, try it again!

click to enlarge Rush Creek Reserve from Uplands Creamery: French aspirations. - GORDON EDGAR
  • Gordon Edgar
  • Rush Creek Reserve from Uplands Creamery: French aspirations.

4. Uplands Creamery Rush Creek Reserve

It's probably not right to mention this one because it is still a little inconsistent. It takes years to get a cheese recipe right, considering the continuous corrections for milk protein levels, humidity, and timing, plus the Vacherin Mont D'or style (which the Rush Creek aspires to) is particularly tough. But this cheese is very good right now and has huge potential. Made by the company that is the only three-time winner of the American Cheese Society competition, this is oozy, earthy, rich, and a touch smoky. This style is the most complex soft cheese you can find.

click to enlarge Aged goat from Two Rock Valley, left, and Estero Gold from Valley Ford: Local heroes. - GORDON EDGAR
  • Gordon Edgar
  • Aged goat from Two Rock Valley, left, and Estero Gold from Valley Ford: Local heroes.

5. Four from California

My people (the Californians) will come after me if I don't mention all the good new cheeses in our own backyard. First off, Garden Variety Black Eyed Susan is one of the most incredible U.S.-made sheep milk cheeses I have ever had. Two Rock Valley's aged goat cheese is not only tangy and sharp, but often has flavors of tropical fruit (and I don't say crap like that often!). Pt. Reyes Farmstead Cheese Toma is rich and grassy, and Valley Ford Cheese Company Estero Gold is similar, only sharper and more acidic. Four new awesome cheeses is a lot for one state in one year!

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie.

  • Pin It

Tags: , , ,

About The Author

Gordon Edgar

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook

Slideshows

  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"