With all of the wonderfully delicious cheeses that you’ll find in our Cheese Departments at any given time, it can be pretty overwhelming choosing just the right selection for your get togethers or quiet nights in. I like to peruse the cheese case, pick up pieces that look interesting, smell them, read the label, and look for any special distinctions, like whether it has won an award. Knowing a cheese has been judged by some of the best palates in the business definitely increases its value to me.
Here are a few of my favorite cheeses that we carry that are award-winning and held in very high regard amongst people “in the know.”
Jeff’s Select Gouda
3rd Place Best in Show, American Cheese Society Competition 2016
This gouda style cheese is made in Wisconsin by Master Cheesemaker Jeff Wideman, and aged in Minnesota by affineur (or cheese ager), Jeff Jirik. Unlike your typical gouda that is aged in cold temperatures, this American Original is aged in the warm and humid environment of natural caves. The result is full-bodied flavor that is both sweet and savory. The annatto-rubbed rind gives the cheese its vibrant color.
Point Reyes Bay Blue
Sofie Award Winner, 2015 in the Specialty Cheese category
Taking home top honors in 2013 for Outstanding New Product, Bay Blue is already renowned as an approachable cheese with multiple layers of flavor. Early notes of mushroom and earthiness give way to a sweet, salted caramel finish with a fudgy texture and natural rind.
Mackenzie Creamery Cognac Fig Chevre
2nd Place, Fresh Goat Cheese with Flavor Added, American Cheese Society Competition 2016
Even if this cheese wasn’t made right down the road in Hiram, OH and the cheesemakers weren’t the most lovely people, I would still want to buy this cheese by the truckload. It is absolute perfection, especially when entertaining. Everyone loves it, and the cognac fig sauce doesn’t overwhelm the goat cheese. Rather, both flavors complement each other very nicely.
Adam’s Reserve Cheddar
Best in Class, US Cheese Championship 2016
For the 3rd year in a row, Adam’s Reserve Cheddar wins the distinction as the Best in Class for 12-month aged cheddars. One taste and it’s easy to see why; it’s super easy to eat, not overly complex, but with enough flavor to make it the perfect ingredient for grilled cheese sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, or simply for snacking with your favorite salami olives. You won’t find a better cheddar for the price!
~Shannon Welsh, Heinen’s Cheesemonger