If there’s one thing I’ll walk away from my internship with, it’s a deeper knowledge of–and passion for–cheese. Yes, cheese.
Many are the hours I spend behind my Mac in my workroom office space scouring the depths of the internet for inspiration for a cheese-related article that will run in the magazine in the distant future. I’d be lying if didn’t say I sometimes get bored when I research one topic for hours on end, but cheese is a whole different ballgame.
First, I am from Wisconsin, the dairy capital of America. Cheese flows through my veins. Second–well, there really is no need for any other explanation. I am from Wisconsin. There are at least five types of cheese in my fridge at all times; I know practically every cheese maker at Madison’s farmer’s market (the largest market in the nation); I’ve even toured several cheese farms in my state. The tRuth is, though, while I’ve loved cheese for as long as I can remember, my passion for it is only just blossoming. In the past, I’ve never ventured too far from my beloved extra sharp cheddar, but after spending hours learning about the hundreds of varieties of cheese out there–soft, hard, blue-veined, wash-rinded, natural-rinded, young, old–I feel I can’t call myself a true cheese connoisseur unless I work a little harder for the title.
Welcome to 52 Weeks of Cheese, a new series of my blog dedicated to expanding my (and your, in turn) cheesy repertoire. Every week for a year, time and funds permitting, I will try one new cheese and report back to you on it. Though I will have barely scratched the surface of varieties by the end of this journey, I will be one stop closer to becoming a cheesemonger. Plus, it’s a good excuse to eat more cheese.
All advice about which cheeses to try accepted! What are your favorites? Leave a comment below.
Week 1: “Nettlesome” Gouda from Valley Shepherd Creamery in Long Valley, NJ
Purchased at: Union Square Greenmarket, NYC
Cost per pound: $23
Aging time: 3 months
Milk type: Jersey cow
Rating (of 10): 5
The cheesemonger at this farmer’s market booth recommended this cheese when I asked for “something different but not too different.” I became quite familiar with Gouda cheeses while studying abroad in the Netherlands, but I never had a variety speckled with nettles (though apparently it is a thing…I’m sure I saw it in the stores, didn’t know what “brandnetelkaas” meant, and quickly looked away). The nettles added a nice earthiness to an otherwise mild cheese, and paired well with a crunchy cracker. The overall flavor was a bit too salty for my tastes, and I probably would have preferred a more well-aged version. Overall a pleasant snacking or sandwich cheese.
The cheese-tasting has officially begun!