Three cheeses and three cheese accessories for eating, serving, and making what has been called “milk’s leap into immortality.”
Rachel Aseltine of Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine
(multiple Chicagoland locations) recommended three cheeses that are popular with the company’s cheesemongers right now:
1. Five-year gouda ($11.49)
Gouda is one of the original washed-curd cheeses, which means that it tends to be nutty and sweet. The lengthy aging process of a cheese like this leaves it flaking into tiny crystals that even dignified diners will pick off a plate with their fingers.
2. Le Gruyère AOC ($9.99)
Gruyère is a Swiss cheese that’s slightly softer and more manageable than gouda. This one from from Fromagerie Le Cret is aged for a comparatively brief 17 months. It’s a versatile cheese that can appeal to those intimidated by potent gouda. If your recipient is particularly extravagant, it can be blended into a cheese fondue to add complexity.
3. Bent River camembert ($24.99)
Anything named for a French province and made in America is often met with skepticism by foodies. This camembert, made in Minnesota with local milk, probably rivals cheese with more refined French lineage. A chewy, edible rind infused with mild cultures gives way to an almost liquid interior that begs to be spread on baguettes. Instead of wrapping a wheel of this in festive paper, batter it and pan-fry it in oil. It tastes like a holiday miracle.
THREE CHEESE ACCESSORIES
1. Personalized engraved Grey Goose cheese board
Golden Engravables on Etsy
A cheese board can make cheese taste better with elegant lines and gleaming wood. Or it can serve as a conversation piece. This is definitely the latter kind of cheese board.
2. Ricki’s cheese-making kits
Online and at Brew & Grow
(multiple Chicagoland locations) | $22–$50
You can buy everything in this kit separately for cheaper, but something about the kit makes it harder to put off actually making cheese. I haven’t crafted any hard cheeses yet, but even the relatively simple process of making a soft cheese makes you appreciate the spectacular amount of time and labor that goes into a perfect wheel of gruyère.
3. The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese by Michael Paterniti
(multiple Chicagoland locations) | $27
Spanning decades, this nonfiction work is about murder, riches, and family. But it’s mostly about one piece of cheese.