By Jesi Dunaway-Nishibun Cheese Department Director at Savenor's Market
If you want to be the hero of this year’s New Years party, there’s no easier way than to show up bearing an abundant cheese plate. What could be more comforting and satisfying—to say nothing of festive—than a platter full of creamy, fatty, satisfying wheels and wedges, with accoutrements to match? Though the standard protocol for holiday cheese involves an assortment of French triple-cremes, English blues, and Italian Robiolas, the locavore has at her disposal an array of delicious offerings made right here in New England. Here are some of our top picks.
Lake’s Edge: Blue Ledge Farm, Salisbury, Vermont; made with pasteurized goat’s milk
Easily one of the most striking local cheeses available, Lake’s Edge is snowy white except for a thin vein of vegetable ash that runs through the center. The layer directly under the rind turns creamy as the cheese ages; when your wedge is perfectly ripe, this inner layer will be gently runny, like slowly melting ice cream. A drizzle of local honey brings out the cheese’s natural sweetness.
Coupole: Vermont Creamery, Websterville, Vermont; made with pasteurized goat’s milk
Much like the French Chevrot, Coupole sports a crinkly geotrichum rind and a dense, thick paste. While the outer rind is pungent and somewhat funky, the creamy interior tastes fresh and young. This cheese really benefits from a bubbling beverage; Westport Rivers Brut, from Westport, MA, is a great choice.
Cabot Clothbound: Cabot Creamery, Greensburo, Vermont; made with pasteurized cow’s milk
No holiday cheese plate would be complete without a bold, English-style cheddar, and we are fortunate to have easy access to one of the best American versions available. Cabot Clothbound is both intensely savory and caramelly-sweet, with a crumbly, slightly crunchy texture. A cheddar this bold and complex loves accompaniments with some punch of their own, especially chutneys and pickles (like some of JJ's Pickled Peaches, if you were lucky enough to put some up this year).
Winnimere: Jasper Hill Farm, Greensboro, Vermont; made with raw Ayrshire cow’s milk
The best part about New England winter: Winnimere is in season. Sumptuous, fatty, and decadent, Winnimere is washed with a local lambic-style beer and hand-wrapped in spruce bark; enjoy Winnimere by peeling back the top rind and spooning out the creamy, just-barely-solid paste. The cheese will carry flavors of beer, forest, and farmyard and needs no enhancements, except perhaps a hunk of fresh bread and a Belgian-style beer, like Mystic’s Descendant.
Berkshire Blue: Berkshire Cheese, Great Barrington, Massachusetts; made with raw Jersey cow’s milk
Although the regal British Stilton gets a lot of hype, the Northeast has such a wealth of excellent blue cheeses that there’s little excuse not to choose a local offering. Berkshire Blue is creamy but firm, slightly piquant, and wholly delicious. This blue just begs to be paired with fruit—fresh sliced apples and pears are divine, as are quince preserves. To turn your blue into a dessert course, serve it alongside fresh, hearty bread with Doves and Figs Chocolate Fig Sunshine jam, a mélange of Cortland apples, figs, spices, and Taza chocolate.