North American Artisan Cheeses

Many of the fine cheeses from France, Italy, and other European countries, including many of those listed above, are handmade in small batches. By contrast, until recently, nearly all the cheese produced in North America has been made by large industrial con-

Chèvre

In recent years, the production of small-batch artisan cheeses in North America has skyrocketed.This development has been stimulated, no doubt, by the adoption of the European practice of offering a cheese course after dinner in fine dining establishments. Increased interest in specialty cheeses has created a new market for these products. North American chefs have made their cheese menus into showcases for fine local cheeses.

The American Cheese Society offers the following definitions of limited-production cheeses:

Specialty cheese is cheese of limited production,with particular attention to natural flavor and texture profiles. Specialty cheeses may be made from all types of milk and may include flavorings.

Artisan or artisanal cheese is cheese that is produced primarily by hand,in small batches,with particular attention to the tradition of the cheese-maker's art and using as little mechanization as possible.

Farmstead cheese is cheese that is made with milk from a farmer's own herd or flock on the farm where the animals are raised. No milk from an outside source may be used.

European cheeses are the product of hundreds of years of tradition and include nearly every type of cheese imaginable, so it is natural that North American producers looked to European cheeses as models. At the same time, the best producers have also tried to develop distinctive products that set new standards of quality.Today, cheese producers all across Canada and the United States produce cheeses that compare in quality with the best from Europe.

It is impossible in a short space to list all the fine artisan and farmstead cheeses in North America.The following are just small random samples of the hundreds of varieties from many regions.

Fresh unripened cheeses

Mozzarella Company Mascarpone,Texas Shepherd's Way Ricotta (sheep's milk), Minnesota Silani Sweet Cheese Ricotta, Ontario

Soft washed-rind cheeses Harvest Moon, Colorado Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk, California Le Douanier, Quebec Colo Rouge, Colorado

Mold-rind soft-ripened

Blythedale Farm Brie and Camembert,Vermont Groupe Fromage Cote Triple Creme,Quebec Bittersweet Plantation Fleur-de-Teche Triple Creme,Louisiana Sweet Grass Dairy, Georgia

Hard cheeses

Roth Kase Gruyere, Wisconsin

Gort's Gouda,British Columbia

Sylvan Star Gouda, Alberta

Belle Gioioso Romano,Wisconsin

Carr Valley Canaria,Wisconsin

Mona (sheep and cow's milk blend),Wisconsin

McCadam Cheddar, New York

Blue cheeses

Rogue River Blue, Oregon Point Reyes Blue, California

Dragon's Breath, Nova Scotia

Firefly Farms Mountain Top Blue,Maryland

Hubbardston Blue, Massachusetts

Goat cheeses,fresh and aged

Vermont Butter and Cheese Company,Vermont Humboldt Fog, California Fromagerie Bergeron Patte Blanche, Quebec Capriole Pipers Pyramid, Indiana

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