We’re no strangers to a good clothbound Cheddar here at C+C. From our early blogging days, when we featured Cabot and Jasper Hill’s version, to when we nibbled our way through Fiscalini’s Bandaged Cheddar, we never turn down a wedge of craggy, crumbly, clothbound Cheddar. But I can’t recall ever sampling one from Wisconsin – until I visited new cheese shop Wedge & Wheel last month and tasted Kingsley Clothbound Cheddar from cheesemaker extraordinaire Chris Roelli. Wow, I didn’t know what I was missing.
Traditional English clothbounds are aged quite some time, which can lend them a signature mustiness. When Wedge & Wheel owner Chris Kohtz and I snacked on Kingsley, which is aged for eight months, he remarked that it lacks that slightly dusty, stored-in-the-cellar quality, and I had to agree. The Kingsley still carries an earthy, mustardy flavor that aged Cheddar lovers will recognize, but it offers a cleaner bite than your typical clothbound. That’s not a bad thing, in my opinion – there is room for all kinds of clothound Cheddars in this cheesy world.
Pair Kingsley with anything from Wisconsin – well, maybe not everything – but a hearty sausage and good beer would make fine accompaniments. Non-beer drinkers like me would enjoy it with a full-bodied red wine or a hard cider. And while I’m sure it would make a delicious grilled cheese, Kingsley is a cheese to nibble and savor, so give it the center spot on your cheeseboard instead.
Our inaugural #CurdChat last month focused on winter warmers — like Alpine-style cheeses that melt easily to keep us warm on these Arctic cold evenings we’ve all been treated to lately. This relatively new cheese in the category hails from someplace that doesn’t at first glance seem to have much in common with the Alps — Nature’s Harmony Farm in northeast Georgia. Yes, it has snowed in Georgia this winter, but as a general rule the state doesn’t see the same extreme temperatures. Perhaps this gives them an advantage as their cows can graze on pasture year round.
Nature’s Harmony has a small herd of fewer than 20 cows. Their cheeses are all raw milk and made by hand. Fortsonia, today’s specimen, is a Gruyere-style cheese that is firm, sweet and nutty. Regular Fortsonia is aged six months, while their Fortsonia Reserve is made only from spring milk and aged 10 months or longer. To make these larger format aged cheeses, Nature’s Harmony successfully raised funds via Kickstarter last year to support a new aging facility and open an on-site market. Confession: While I happily support a number of worthwhile endeavors via Kickstarter, I do give preference to those that offer cheese as a reward. I was especially glad to get my Fortsonia in the mail just in time for Christmas, so it was a welcome representative of the South on my holiday cheese board.
You could pair Forstonia with a spiced winter ale, or look towards spring with something hoppy and local like Terrapin Hopsecutioner IPA.
Should you find yourself in the Elberton area, stop by and visit their on-farm shop and you may catch a glimpse of Fortsonia being made, too.