A (cheesy) New Year's resolution: Five cheeses to try in 2011

For a goat’s milk selection Cypress Grove’s Truffle Tremor will treat your taste buds. Cypress Grove produces so many quality products that it is no surprise I love this cheese. The classic decadent truffle flavor and velvety texture of this ripened treat will make you shake all over. Truffle Tremor is cake-like in consistency until it ages, turning runny near the rind and chalky near the center. Pair Truffle Tremor with a dry Pinot Grigio and experience new heights of cheesy pleasure.


[image-1]Wisconsin is known for cow’s milk cheeses, and at Uplands Cheese Company they are embracing Old World style and producing a beautiful wheel called Rush Creek Reserve. I enjoyed this seasonal cheese recently. It is only made in autumn and in small quantities (which is reflected in its price). When allowed to reach room temperature, this soft goo-bomb is silky and runny showcasing flavors of a washed-rind that has been tenderly wrapped in a strip of spruce bark and aged for 60 days. Rush Creek is not as stinky as some washed-rinds, but certainly has the smoky, meaty spectacularness true to washed-rind character. Sip on a Riesling or Gewürztraminer and ponder how you let any year pass without this blissful combination.


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On to the mixed milk category, Campo de Montalban is a Spanish cheese similar to Manchego. The difference is that Campo de Montalban is made with the perfect blend of cow, sheep and goat milks instead of just sheep’s milk. The flavor is sweet with nuances of warm, caramelized onions. The richness of the three different milk types works delightfully well with Grenache or sweet oloroso Sherry. Campo de Montalban will take your recipes to the next level too; just don’t keep it a secret because everyone deserves the substitution of this cheese over the more expensive Manchego.


[image-3]Finally it is time for the colorful world of blues. Shropshire Blue deserves a class of its own. It is a traditional blue cheese from the United Kingdom made in the style of Stilton, but Shropshire is milder and bright neon-orange! A flavorless, natural coloring called annatto gives this cheese its spectacular hue. The sweet, milky cooked cream flavors last but a moment before the spicy tang of the finish reminds you - you are eating a blue cheese. When it comes to Shropshire, ports are perfect companions!


Since I did so well with last year’s resolution I have decided to surpass the 306 mark in 2011. Instead of reverting back to the classics (manage stress, save money, be on time) I am going to press forward into the new year and eat copious amounts of cheese again – only this year I will also run faster and longer because all that cheese is catching up with me. Cheers to your own cheese filled new year!


Kira Jefferson is the resident "cheese guru" at SideBern's in South Tampa.


All photos by Dean Hurst.

My resolution for 2010 was to eat more cheese than any other year. For the first time, I accomplished my goal and the numbers are staggering! Last year (according to my well maintained list of consumed cheeses) I tasted 39 sheep’s milks, 71 goat’s milks, 134 cow’s milks, 19 mixed milks and 43 blue cheese selections from all over the World. I will help you with the math: that’s 306 different cheeses! All I had to do was create a goal that was attainable. In celebration of this occasion, I have picked one cheese from each group to share with you in the hopes that you can start 2011 off right with a wedge of every single one.

Choosing one sheep’s milk cheese to recommend seemed an impossible task. They are all so flavorful and balanced. Upon scrolling through my list, Azeitão (ah-zay-DONH) stood out as the most memorable sheep’s milk selection from 2010. Made in Portugal, this wheel is small and rustic. The cheesemaker molds the curds into cloth and washes each 9-ounce wheel with brine. Azeitão is one of those sumptuous treats that you can dig into the paste with a spoon. Just cut the top off along the circumference and let it come to room temperature. This cheese is rich, sweet, acidic and vegetal pairing perfectly with Tempranillo and Albariño wines.

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