I have to confess that this cheese was the first that made me doubt the trusty “100 Great Cheeses” list, in its candy apple red wax coating and plastic shrinkwrap that made my inner cheese snob bristle. But after Jamie wrote on Serious Cheese this week about Grafton Village Cheese’s move to subsidize their supporting dairy farmers in the wake of falling milk prices, I decided to give Grafton a shot. I called around to my local shops and only Whole Foods carried Grafton’s cheddars. Despite my best “rain, rain, go away,” warblings, every nice DC day seems to be offset with another two rainy days, and today was one of the latter. Putting aside wistful thoughts of fresh chevre, I picked up the cheddar, some tomato soup and a loaf of whole wheat baguette and set about making a classic grilled cheese combination: apple, cheddar, arugula. (Mostly local, even, in a nod to Earth Day. The arugula comes from Va.’s Endless Harvest and apples from Pa.’s Toigo Orchards, both at DC’s Penn Quarter FreshFarm Market.)
I peeled back the red wax to reveal a milky white, crumbly cheese. The first bite was surprisingly full-flavored, a perfect balance of sharpness and sweet cream flavors, clearly indicative of a high quality milk base. Sure enough, Grafton Village carefully selects milk from rBST-free Jersey cows through Vermont dairy co-ops. The subsidy they’ll be paying out to their dairy suppliers will include a premium based on the butterfat and protein content of the milk. Grafton, who’s been making cheese in the historic village of Grafton, Vermont, since 1892, also makes a clothbound cheddar which also earned a spot on the Wine Spectator list. Alas, no local shops carry that one, so it goes on the “wanted” list for future tasting. (Cowgirl suggested Cabot’s clothbound as a substitute, which we’ve reviewed previously.)
At $3.99 a loaf, Grafton’s 1-year cheddar provides a nice break on the wallet, too. Whole Foods also carries a 2-year-aged and maple versions. Based on my first impressions, I’ll be giving Grafton Village’s other cheeses a try too.
(Psst … this has almost nothing to do with cheese, but if you’re in the DC-area and enjoy our other regional delicacy, blue crabs – or just enjoy clean water, please stop by FoodieTots and check out today’s “Blog for the Bay” virtual rally for the Chesapeake.)