A year or so ago, when Colleen and I were still making our way through the Wine Spectator list, I tasted Grayson, a washed-rind cheese from Virginia’s Meadow Creek Dairy. When I mentioned to C that I really enjoyed it, she said that if she expanded the 100 great cheeses list to 110, Grayson would have made the cut. So it’s a little odd that we haven’t posted about this Taleggio doppelganger yet, but hey, better late than never.
Colleen posted about Grayson’s sister cheese, Applachian, earlier this year, and while this is also a raw cow’s-milk cheese, Grayson has a flavor profile all its own. Its yeasty orange rind encases a smooth, thick paste that offers aromas of beef and bacon. If you like Cowgirl Creamery’s Red Hawk or Jasper Hill Farm’s Harbison, chances are you’ll be a Grayson fan, too. But it doesn’t have the creaminess of a triple-cream like Red Hawk or the spoonability of Harbison – the texture is firmer and fudgier, making it a filling cheese that could be part of a traditional ploughman’s lunch as well as part of an elegant cheeseboard.
Grayson is a powerful cheese that dominates the palate, so you’ll want to keep the accompaniments simple and hearty. Its consistency is perfect for schmearing on a hunk of rustic bread and pairing with a beer. Pastoral recommends a PranQster Belgian-Style Golden Ale from North Coast Brewing Company, while Culture is partial to Allagash Tripel Reserve. If you prefer wine, like I do, Meadow Creek recommends a full-bodied white or medium red.