Do you think that we’d stop talking about Wisconsin cheese once we hit December? Not a chance! In fact, our recent trip to America’s Dairyland gave us such great exposure to Wisconsin cheeses that we could do an all-Wisconsin cheese blog for the next six months. (I’m sure our friends at the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board would love that.) While we won’t go that extreme, we did taste some special Badger State cheeses that merit their own cheese plate for the holiday season. After all, is there a better time than the holidays to whip out coffee- or vanilla-infused cheeses? We think not.
Espresso BellaVitano from Sartori will prove wrong those naysayers who think coffee and cheese don’t belong in the same room, let alone the same bite. Believe me, folks, it works. A wheel of Reserve BellaVitano, Sartori’s signature cheese notable for its nutty, Parmigiano-like flavor and cheddar-ish texture, is rubbed with espresso grounds, giving the rind a deep, smoky flavor that blends perfectly with the fudgy paste. Add a few bars of bittersweet chocolate to the plate and your guests won’t be able to stay away.
Vanilla Cardona, on the other hand, offers a sweeter bite since its rind has been rubbed with vanilla sugar and the goat’s milk from which it’s made has been infused with vanilla bean. Though it looks mild, don’t let the snowy white exterior fool you: The caramel and coconut notes come through right away. Depending on how strong your sweet tooth is, you might get a sugar rush from eating too much, so account for smaller portions when purchasing Vanilla Cardona.
There’s nothing particularly holiday-like about Hook’s 12-Year Cheddar - no special flavorings or festive wrappings – but after being aged for 12 years, the cheese forms sweet, crunchy crystals that make each bite almost like enjoying a candy bar. Heck, I’d choose a chunk of cheddar over a Chunky bar any day! And at a lower price point than Hook’s 15-Year Cheddar, you’ll be more compelled to share with friends. (I’m sure I’m not the only one who hoards her 15-Year, right?)
Which cheeses are you serving at your holiday parties this season? Share your finds with us!