11 years ago

Hook’s 10 Year Cheddar

Be it potica, krumkake, or lefsa, the holidays are a time for celebrating family and community culinary traditions. Nonetheless, this season is also a time we seek out new and unique items for gifts or holiday tables. In my home, we make sure to always include the three Cs—crackers, charcuterie, and cheese. 

Over the years, many cheeses have come and gone from my Christmas and New Year’s shopping lists. Eichtin’s Tilsit has always been a part of my Christmas. This Tilsit has a creamy-mouth feel with hints of bright citrus on its finish. Eichtin’s Tilset works well with caraway rye crackers.

Below are some of my other favorites with guides on how to pair certain cheeses, how to handle them and their various flavors. Enjoy!

Aged Cheddars and Goudas 
Both are easy crowd pleasers and with thoughtful selection, they also impress the most sophisticated palate. Additionally, these cheeses travel well and most do not require constant refrigeration.

Merieke Gouda

Hook’s 10 Year Cheddar is a classic gift cheese; no other cheddar makes a finer statement. In this cheese, rich Wisconsin creaminess is harnessed by a demanding sharpness, while plentiful calcium crystals are a pleasant surprise. You can’t go wrong with any of the Marieke Gouda selections from Hollands Family Farms either. Hollands Family Farms’ Aged, Super Aged, Foenegreek and Clove Marieke Goudas all share a sweet nutty taste that’s perfect for pairing with seasonal winter ales.

Sartori BellaVitano selections 
Fast becoming a holiday tradition, but difficult to classify since they’re truly American Originals. Their Merlot and the Espresso cheeses are perfect bookends for any holiday dinner. Before or after a meal, these cheeses are fun to mix and match with your beverage of choice.

Satori BellaVitano

In addition to the BellaVitano Reserve line-up, this year Lunds and Byerly’s are proud to offer a limited supply of Cognac cured BellaVitano. This is a limited release cheese with only 10 wheels available at select Lunds and Byerly’s locations.

Young Cheeses 
Softer, younger cheeses, with their delicate nature, demand careful attention when given as a gift I’m fond of two local selections in this style: Alemar’s Bent River and Uplands Rush Creek Reserve.

Uplands Cheese Rush Creek Reserve

Bent River is a Camembert style cheese with a thin snow-white rind, and an interior rich with herbal notes that is accented by flavors of fresh mushrooms. I enjoy this cheese on its own, but many friends find it delicious when I serve it with our Casa Forcello Amarena Cherry Compote.

Rush Creek Reserve is a new seasonal favorite from Uplands Cheese. Rush Creek Reserve is impressive on its own—I gently warm the spruce wrapped round and simply slice the top rind off to reveal its lush inner cream. The sylvan scents are a perfect complement to hearty crusty bread and thinly sliced speck or prosciutto.

This holiday season, take some time to discover and share the world of flavor in our local cheese selections. Keep your cheese fun and inviting–mix and match selections based on rind, texture, and flavor.

What are your favorite holiday cheeses? What types of cheese do you pair with your holiday meals?

John Stueland, deli category manager