While no expert, I consider myself to be fairly well-educated when it comes to Minnesota cheeses. After all, I live here – why shouldn’t I be? So I was surprised to find a Minnesota cheese during a recent trip to Surdyk’s that I didn’t recognize – not only the cheese, but the cheesemaker, too. And you wouldn’t expect me to bypass a local raw-milk cheddar, would you?
What I found was Sunny Road cheddar, a creamy, buttery, totally snackable cheese from Morning Star Farm in Cokato. Sold under the Sunny Road brand, this cheddar, made from the milk of grass-fed Brown Swiss cows, is aged four to eight months before coming to market. My slice certainly tasted young and fresh, which perfectly suited my palate on a warm summer day. (The farm also produces a sharper version aged one year.) Sweet and nutty, the Sunny Road cheddar would be ideal for grilled cheese or a gooey mac and cheese – two of my favorite uses for young cheddar. You know I love aged cheddars, but they’re not for mac and cheese, in my opinion.
A little online research reveals that Sunny Road is a relatively new cheesemaking operation started by a formal Cargill manager named Daniel Lemke, who had no experience with cows nor cheese before beginning his business. Lucky for him – and for us who enjoy his cheese – Daniel seems to have the knack for it. Try Sunny Road cheddar with a rich ale or medium-bodied red wine.