We’ve written almost exclusively about American made cheeses here on the blog this year, but now that the holiday season is here we’re going to intersperse a few selections from abroad to help round out your holiday cheese boards. (Not that you can’t continue to entertain with All-American selections, but the more the merrier.) And no holiday cheese board would be complete without a blue cheese. Whether creamy and mellow or robust and salty, a blue cheese is always appropriate. It can even stand alone, paired with a nice jam or honey, for dessert after a holiday meal.
A current favorite in my house is a Swiss cheese, Willi Schmid’s Jersey Blue, recently named the World’s Best Jersey Cheese at the World Jersey Cheese Awards (that would be cheeses made from Jersey cows’ milk, not cheeses made in New Jersey). My six-year-old is totally smitten with this cheese (pictured above). Admiring its distinctive blue veining at the cheese counter, he quickly told the cheesemonger he’d take half a wheel. It is the consistency of butter with the brilliant bite of a really good blue. (Local readers, you can find Jersey Blue at Arrowine — and if Katie’s behind the counter, ask her about her visit to make cheese with Willi.)
It seems that blue cheese is also on the minds of the judges at the World Cheese Awards, which took place yesterday in the U.K., under the auspices of the U.K.’s Guild of Fine Food. More than 2,700 cheeses (2,781 to be precise) from 30 countries were judged by 255 judges. Just 50 cheeses garnered the coveted “Super Gold,” including nine for American cheesemakers. A buffalo milk blue from Italy very nearly won top honors, and an American blue you may recognize was the highest scoring American cheese: Rogue River Blue from Oregon’s Rogue Creamery. Without further ado, here are the highlights:
World Cheese Awards, 2012 Results
Cows Milk Blues:
- Super Gold, Rogue River Blue, Rogue Creamery
- Gold, Flora Nelle, Rogue Creamery
- Silver, Smoked Berkshire Blue, Berkshire Cheese
- Super Gold, Blue Bay, Ticklemore Cheese, England
- Super Gold, Blue Cornflower, 60 Thise Mejeri, Denmark
- Super Gold, Barkham Blue, Two Hoots Cheese, England
- Super Gold, Creamy Gorgonazola PDO, Cairati Fine Italian Foods, Italy
American Super Golds:
- Bloomsdale, Baetje Farms, Missouri
- Alpha Tolman, Cellars at Jasper Hill, Vermont
- Harbison, Cellars at Jasper Hill, Vermont
- Midnight Moon, Cypress Grove Chèvre, California
- Bandaged Wrapped Cheddar, Fiscalini Cheese Co., California
- Shepsog, Grafton Village Cheese Co., Vermont
- Sunset Bay, Rivers Edge Chevre, Oregon
- Rogue River Blue, Rogue Creamery, Oregon
- Sartori Limited Edition Cognac BellaVitano, Sartori Company, Wisconsin
Four American cheeses placed in the Top 16, with Rogue Creamery’s namesake blue just barely besting Cellars at Jasper Hill’s Harbison for top-scoring American cheese: Rogue River Blue, 99pts.; Harbison, Jasper Hill, 97pts.; Shepshog, Grafton, 93 pts.; Bandaged Wrapped Cheddar, Fiscalini, 73pts.
Oh, the overall winners? After a two-way tie in points awarded between Blu di Bufala, Azienda Agricola Gritti Bruno E Alfio S.S. of Italy and Manchego DO Grand Reserve, Dehesa de los Llano of Spain, the manchego was declared Supreme Champion (after a taste-off and show of hands among the judges, according to twitter accounts from those in attendance). The complete results have just been posted. We’ll update with the complete tally for American award winners as soon as we comb through the list. In the meantime, cheers to all our friends listed above!