Travel the World at the Our Cheese Counter
Posted by by John Stueland, deli category manager
Thursday, May 19, 2011
On any given day , at our Lunds or Byerly’s stores, you will find a vast selection of specialty cheese. Our specialty cheese counters are a destination, a place for discovery and education. The selection is always changing as local cheese makers continue to produce new creations and our importers endlessly discover new selections. Although almost half of our specialty cheese is domestically produced, at last count we sourced cheese from countries such as Norway, Germany, and Greece and from as far away as Australia. In all, you can find over 20 different countries represented in our delis.!
Arranged by both style and origin, perusing our cheese selections is like a visit to your favorite bookstore—each cheese tells its own story and is detailed by the makers’ craftsmanship, terrior, heritage, and innovation.
For example take our Cheddar area where we have Fini, a Cheddar made in Wisconsin and aged in the sandstone caves of Faribault Diairy in Minnesota. , Tthere are also the famous Wisconsin Cheddars from Widmer, Hook’s, and Carr Valley. Some are aged longer than others, the oldest is 15 years old and is annually released in very limited quantities,; while others are smoked and some others have cranberries or hot peppers added ( Carr Valley’s Chipotle Cranberry has both). Outside of Wisconsin, we have Prairie Breeze from Milton Creamery in Iowa and carefully selected representatives from Vermont’s Grafton and Cabot Creameries. Our friendly neighbors to the north provide us with Canadian Cheddar, while the classics come from England and Ireland. The Australian Cheddars are some of the cheese selections that travel the farthest to reach us in Minnesota. And this is just the beginning.
Asking a cheese specialist for a tour of their current selection demonstrates all the variety available. Knowing your personal taste enables the cheese specialist to help you to branch out and discover new favorites. Do you like particular styles? If so, what is the attraction—--is it a texture or an aroma? Many Cheddar lovers would probably not head over to the Italian section and discover a freshly cut piece of Montegrappa on their own. However this would be a perfect recommendation for someone looking for a unique cheese, but one that still fits the Cheddar profile.
For some people knowing they like a particular milk type (cow, goat, or sheep) is key to trying something new and tasty. But, don’t be lulled into thinking that this is the universal rule for liking or disliking a cheese. I have known many people who have passed on trying a new cheese based on its milk (“I don’t like goat’s milk because it’s barnyard-y.”) only to discover later that they actually enjoyed the cheese itself.
Cheese is almost always enjoyed while being “paired”. The crackers or bread you choose to serve with a cheese can be just as thoughtful of a selection as a bottle of wine. Additionally, some of the flavors of cheese can be heightened or accented when combined with a fruit topping or special honey. Cheese is not limited to matchmaking with wine; the other beverages you enjoy can also be used to create amazing combinations. Beer, tea, coffee, juice, and even cocktails all make wonderful companions to your favorite cheese. You never know what you’ll discover if you ask a cheese specialist, “Do you have any cheese to serve with fresh squeezed Margaritas?” (Halloumi or a Chipotle Cranberry Cheddar would be my two recommendations!)
Get to know the cheese counter and the cheese specialist at your favorite Lunds or Byerly’s store. Ask them what’s new, in season, or on feature. From the Spring release of Beemster’s annual Graskaas to samples of the American Cheese Society contest winners, we have a different cheese for every day of the year.
Do you have a cheese pairing that’s proven to be a crowd favorite?