June 4th is National Cheese Day (also known as International Cheese Day)! In celebration, we thought it’d be fun to find out which of our cheese are our customer favorites. So, without further ado, here is a list of our top ten best selling cheeses in the last year. We’ve also included pairing ideas for each cheese!
It’s no surprise to see Brabander at the top of this list- it’s been a staff and customer favorite for years. This creamy, buttery, and slightly fruity Goat’s milk gouda is made from pasteurized milk of Saanen goats in the Brabant region of southern Holland. The cheese is set in large wheels, wrapped in wax, and then taken to famed affineur Betty Koster at Fromagerie L'amuse to be aged for a short (short for a gouda, that is) period of six months. We suggest pairing the Brabander with an equally fruity quince paste, on a mild cracker, like the Rustic Bakery Olive Oil & Sel Gris.
Runner up is the L’Amuse 2 Year Aged Gouda. We like to think of this gouda as the Brabander’s older sister. Made from pasteurized Cow’s milk, this gouda is born at the Cono cheese-making plant in Northern Holland, where wheels are hand-selected and sent to Betty Koster at the L’Amuse cheese shop. There, Betty matures them to her own specifications, in an environment warmer than that of traditional gouda-aging facilities. This increased temperature during aging is one of many practiced techniques that brings out deep, complex flavors that would otherwise take much longer to present themselves. This gouda is incredibly caramelly, nutty, and has crunchy protein crystals (crystals that appear naturally in more-aged cheeses) embedded throughout the cheese. We suggest pairing the L’Amuse 2 Year Aged Gouda with a rich stout and a buttery, fatty meat- perhaps thinly sliced prosciutto.
3. Prairie Breeze Cheddar
Prairie Breeze is certainly the most popular cheddar we carry, and we’re happy to see it sit so highly on our overall cheese rankings. This cheddar is Milton Creamery’s twist on a well-aged white Cheddar style cheese. Made in Iowa, where the creamery is located, this cheddar is aged for a minimum of 9 months, resulting in a pleasantly sweet, yet still sharp, cheddar that’s crumbly yet creamy- with a little crunch from the calcium crystals developed during the aging process. It’s the perfect snacking cheese, though we wouldn’t mind it in a gooey grilled cheese, perhaps with a smear of chili pepper jam to cut through the creaminess.
Our parmigiano is the real deal. Since 1855, the Cravero family (Giorgio, Giacamo, Giorgio, Giacamo, Giorgio, in that order) has been hand-selecting and aging wheels of Parmigiano that are so good, you could eat a hunk of one like an apple. Despite its age, there is a creamy mouthfeel to this parm, with fine crystals that punctuate each warm, toasty, bright, mature bite. Sometimes it is peppery like arugula; occasionally, its fruity sweetness rivals that of a pineapple. Grate it over your pasta dish, use the rind for making an extra flavorful broth, or pair with some fresh grapes for a knock-out cheese board.
(Photo from Cowgirl Creamery)
5. Mt. Tam
Our middleweight champion hails from the golden coast- made by Cowgirl Creamery, based in San Francisco. Mt Tam, Cowgirl Creamery's signature cheese, is a smooth, creamy, elegant triple-cream encased in a snowy-white bloomy rind. Made with organic milk from the Straus Family Dairy, Mt Tam is firm yet buttery with a mellow, earthy flavor reminiscent of white mushrooms. We suggest pairing the Mt Tam with a fresh, crunchy baguette and perhaps a dollop of Blackberry Farm’s Mushroom spread. Mmmmm.
A much loved, classic Alpine cheese! Our Gruyere is different from the rest, however. Gourmino Gruyere is produced by numerous cheesemakers in the Fribourg region of Switzerland banding together in the name of tradition to produce one of the most beloved cheeses of all time. Made from the unpasteurized milk of cows feeding on fresh alpine grasses, formed into giant molds, and aged for a year. The Gruyere plays well with slices of fresh apples or a drizzle of delicious honey (try our favorite, Brooklyn Queen Honey).
7. Bio Truffle Gouda
The Bio Truffle Gouda is from Treur Kaas in Holland. Made with pasteurized Cow’s milk and Italian Black Truffle, this gouda is unbelievably creamy and buttery, with pleasantly fragrant bits of truffle speckled throughout the wheel. We once had a customer buy over a pound of this cheese, saying that she had plans to make truffle mac & cheese for her family that night. We highly support this idea-- perhaps throw in some Ossau Iraty for nuttiness and Reading for extra melt-ability.
We’d like to think that a Comte and a freshly baked baguette is a well-rounded, wholesome meal. Perhaps not nutritionally (or so experts say), but flavor-wise- we’re fully convinced. There’s a reason why Comte is one of the most well-known Alpine cheeses around: it’s nutty, earthy, creamy, buttery, and ever-so-slightly funky, all-at-once. It’s very versatile, perfect for snacking, a great melter, and pairs well with both sweet jams (and dark chocolate) as well as savory meats and mustards. It’s a staple in our Turkey & Comte sandwich, though when snacking, we suggest pairing with the Askinosie 72% dark chocolate!
9. Mozzarella 1.98%
Our mozzarella comes from Lioni Latticini, started by the Salzarulo family in the town of Lioni, Italy many decades ago. In the 1980s, the family moved to Brooklyn, NY, where they became famous and respected for their fresh, high-quality, and authentic mozzarella. Lioni mozzarella is made the old-fashioned way, hand-wrapped slowly to create an intensely smooth, delicate, and moist texture. We only use Lioni mozzarella in our classic summer Green Tomato sandwich and our winter Eggplant Copanata sandwich. We’d highly recommend slicing the mozzarella, layering with some fresh basil and heirloom tomatoes and drizzling with San Giacomo Balsamic for a heavenly summer snack.
(Photo from Cowgirl Creamery)
10. Black Betty 1.89%
We were quite surprised to see this gal on the list, because she’s only available for purchase a few months out of the year. Though, every year, Black Betty sells out within weeks. With good reason, too! Black Betty is often touted as the “older sister” of Brabander, with a similar sweet, caramelly flavor profile, but definitively more aged and more complex both in taste and texture. In fact, Black Betty wheels are simply select Brabander wheels that have been aged for an extra half year in the cheese caves. This extra time allows for the cheese to develop calcium crystals and a more intense flavor. Though she shines on her own, we’d also suggest pairing Black Betty with BRINS Banana Jam.