The Last Great Cheeses of 2013

As the year comes to a close, we're celebrating with the last "new" finds of the year in Imported Cheese. Don't worry, though. We'll have tons of new flavors and varieties to explore in 2014. But as we say goodbye to 2013, enjoy these new tastes this month and as you ring in the New Cheese Year!

1. Widmer's 6-Year White Cheddar – Six years sounds like a long time – unless you're from a family who's been making cheese since 1922! Joe Widmer of Theresa, Wisconsin, ages his outstanding Cheddar anywhere from 1 to 8 years. The 6-Year has a moist texture with an occasional crunch from crystalized amino acids. This cow's milk cheese is rich and sharp but with a smooth, bitter-free finish.

Ziege Zacke Blue2. Ziege Zacke Blue – Ziege Zacke (pronounced "ziggy zacky") is a collaboration between Wisconsin's Katie Hedrich of LaClare Farms and Chris Roelli of Roelli Cheese Haus, mixing their goat and cow's milk for a wonderful blue cheese. Ziege Zacke uses a Dry Jack recipe and is cave-aged for 3 months. It has a dense, chewy texture with an earthy flavor that has tanginess up front and a slightly sweet, mellow blue finish.

3. Martone – These little beauties are a recent creation of Wisconsin's LaClare farm's award-winning cheesemaker, Katie Hedrich. Martone is made with cow and goat's milk, covered with vegetable ash and surface-ripened for 10 days. It has a buttery creaminess with sweet, tangy notes. Enjoy with your favorite fruity white wine or light-bodied beer.

Brillat Savarin with Papaya4. The Red One Red Leicester – This mature Red Leicester is produced at the renowned Taw Valley Creamery in the heart of Devon in England. It has a mild yet tangy and slightly nutty flavor and is perfect for snacking or on sandwiches. Enjoy with a brown ale or fruity red wine.

5. Brillat Savarin with Papaya – This wonderful triple crème from France is luscious and decadently buttery with slightly sour notes that are well balanced by the little chunks of papaya that cover it. This a perfect dessert cheese, and it pairs beautifully with Champagne or Sancerre.

6. Barricato al Pepe – This cow's milk cheese from Veneto, Italy, is made by Sergio, the famed producer of Sottocenere. Barricato al Pepe is first aged for 4 months and is then placed in oak barrels, covered in copious amounts of peppercorns and aged for another 6 months. The resulting flavor is full, round and buttery and is enhanced by the wine residue from the barrel aging, with a lovely snap from the peppercorns.

Pecorino alla Canapa7. Pecorino alla Canapa – New from the files of "what will they think of next?" is Pecorino alla Canapa. Yes, this little sheep's milk cheese from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy is buried in hemp and then aged in wooden crates for 2 months. Eureka, it works! The resulting cheese is rich, full and buttery – a wonderfully unique addition to any cheese plate.

8. Enrobed Chèvres with Papaya, Apricots and Shallots & Chives – These three fantastic French goat cheeses are a wonderful alternative to cream cheese on a bagel.

9. Nusskase Bio – Nusskase is produced in Switzerland in the village dairy of Doppleschwand in the UNESCO Biosphere Entlebuch and is made from the organic raw cow's milk of 12 regional suppliers. The cheese is wiped with a walnut distillate for 4 months, which enhances the mellow, creamy flavor of the cheese with a wonderful walnut flavor on the finish.

10. Kerrygold Aged Cheddar with Whiskey – Infused with robust flavor, Kerrygold's rich and creamyAged Cheddar now has unique undertones of Kerrygold Aged Cheddar with Whiskeythe smooth, woody and nutty taste of pure Irish whiskey. Entrenched in the history and traditions of Ireland, Cheddar and whiskey are now together in one spirited cheese.

Also look for:

  • Kerrygold Irish Dubliner with Stout – The classic flavor combination brings out the sweet, nutty, rich flavor of Dubliner, swirling and tumbling it together with the malty, caramel, bitter flavor of a perfect pint of Irish stout.

11. Sovrano Bufala Milk Parmesan – Sovrano is a unique, grana-style hard cheese from the province of Lodi in northern Italy. This Italian beauty is aged for at least 2 years and, unlike its famous cousins Parmiggiano-Reggiano and Grana Padano, Sovrano uses a blend of buffalo and cow's milk. This gives the cheese a slightly tangy, sweet flavor on the finish. Enjoy Sovrano on any cheese plate or grated over salads, pasta or soup.

Beehive SeaHive12. Beehive SeaHive – From the land of salt and honey, SeaHive is hand-rubbed with wildflower honey and REALSALT® sea salt. REALSALT® is harvested from an ancient seabed near Redmond, Utah, and contains unique flecks of color from more than 50 natural trace minerals.

Also look for:

  • Beehive Big John's Cajun – This spicy hand-rubbed cheese packs a heated punch as you near the rind. Made from the milk of local Jersey cows in northern Utah, the combination of sweet creaminess and spice make it a great addition to any cheese plate.
  • Beehive TeaHive – Rubbed with a blend of black tea and pure bergamot oil, leave it to the Beehive boys to create another unique, delicious cheese! The creaminess of this Jersey cow cheese immediately delights the palate, and the complexities of the tea-rubbed rind continue through the finish. The sweet fragrance of orange blossoms in April comes to mind.

13. Le Carré du Berry – This French pasteurized goat's milk cheese is covered with a blend of herbs, peppercorns and juniper berries. It is creamy and rich with a tangy finish. The cheese produced is delicious with nuances of clover, herbs, pines and walnuts.

And For the Meat Lovers...

La Quercia Spicy Borsellino SalamiSpicy Borsellino Salami – This award-winning salami is made by La Quercia in Norwalk, Iowa. All of the pork used is vegetarian fed, antibiotic free and is humanely raised on local family farms. Their spicy Borsellino is richly spiced with Spanish pimentón (paprika) and red chile and is perfect for snacking or sandwiches. It pairs well with Cheddar, Manchego and aged Gouda and is great with most beers or bold red wines.

Duck & Pork Paté with Foie Gras – Delpeyrat has been making paté and foie gras in France since 1890 but has only recently introduced its excellent products into the U.S. after starting production in Quebec in 2012. They use a complete line of production from farm to table and never use added hormones or antibiotics. Their ducks are 100% corn fed, which gives their patés a sweet, nutty flavor that is very clean without any tart aftertaste. Pair with wine or beer and bread for an elegant appetizer, or try Duck Rillettes or duck-pork paté on a baguette with Dijon and prosciutto for a dynamite sandwich. Also look for Delpeyrat's Duck Mousse Foie Gras with Port Wine.

Mini Mortadella – These mini mortadella are the perfect size for a gift or party. Italian producer Leoncini uses carefully selected cuts of pork that are very finely minced and undergo a slow cooking process in special dry air ovens to create a mortadella of incomparable softness and delicate sweet flavor.

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