I’m extremely excited to report that our Southern Season cheese family recently expanded to include none other than Virginia-based cheesemonger extraordinaire Dany Schutte! Dany came up in cheese and specialty food in both Austin, Texas and San Francisco, California (where she was mentored by Deborah Dickerson of Cowgirl Creamery). She returned less than a decade ago to her hometown of Richmond to be closer to family and naturally, to continue to sling cheese and educate like it’s nobody’s business! In Richmond, Dany worked at a well-known natural foods grocer, building the largest and most diverse ripened goat selection Richmond cheese connoisseurs had ever seen. Now folks, she belongs to us! Welcome to the family, Dany!
The Southern Season Richmond store opened to the public on July 31st! Having just gotten back from the store a few days ago, I do declare that the department is both beautiful and bountiful, and Dany and her crew are guaranteed to make it the favorite destination cheese counter in the state of Virginia. If you’ve not met her yet, I recommend introducing yourself to Dany and haunting that counter like the cheese fiend that you are! Expect to find the finest international selection available as well as some local favorites you’ll not see elsewhere. Come by and let Dany and her crew lay some cheese knowledge on ya whilst you taste your way through their unique and delightful selection!
Since the Richmond Southern Season location opens this month, it’d be a crime not to feature the cheese rock stars of Galax, Virginia. Am I right? Friends of the curd, we bring you the mighty Meadow Creek Dairy!!! Can I get the cheese equivalent to an Amen? How’s about a cheese-driven Hallelujah?!
Meadow Creek Dairy’ is a family farm in Galax, Virginia, nestled away in the mountains not too far from the North Carolina border. At an elevation of 2800ft, the combination of pure water, clean air and deep soils produce an ideal environment for growing diverse, mineral-rich pastures. The family farm works closely with their Jersey cows, developing a herd best adapted to their high altitude environment. In the process, their Jersey girls produce the highest quality milk for crafting delicious Meadow Creek cheeses!
Meadow Creek practices sustainable farming methods, managing the land and cattle for health rather than high production. They practice intensive grazing management which involves giving the cattle fresh grass every day; they are not allowed back on the pasture already grazed, allowing the grass to regrow and preventing overgrazing. Meadow Creek uses no herbicides or pesticides and their only crop is grass. They’re therefore able to provide excellent nutrition for the dairy herd while improving the health and fertility of the land.
Their milking season begins in late March when all calves are born coinciding with the grass growth. The cattle are never confined, but instead are born and raised on pasture. The cows graze a diverse mixture of perennial grasses and legumes supplemented with some grains, salt and Norwegian kelp. In the fall, when the grass growth wanes, the cows begin to wind down their milk production. Christmas Eve is the last day of the milking season and the beginning of a two month rest for the cows as well as for the family farmhands.
The two Meadow Creek cheeses we’ll be featuring this month at all three Southern Season locations are as follows:
On a table this month you’ll find Meadow Creek’s Appalachian. A pressed raw cow’s milk cheese, cellared at least sixty days. Appalachian is lemony and tangy with buttery flavors and a delicious mushroomy, earthy rind. Appalachian appeals to all! Seriously, everyone who tries it loves it. When I bring it home, my wife and I are lucky to get any, as our children gobble it up. If you’ve not yet tried this cheese, come down to Southern Season and have a taste! Appalachian will be $1 off per pound for the month of August while supplies last!
Also featured this month by Meadow Creek is their dreamy washed-rind cheese, Grayson. Meaty, fruity, bready, yeasty and aromatic are all words I regularly use to describe this sophisticated beauty! Although washed-rind cheeses are not for everyone, Grayson tends to be very well loved by those who appreciate the style. Grayson is the cheese I give to anyone who claims there are no great domestic washed-rind cheeses. I’ve converted many a non-believer that way and will continue to do so. Grayson will be $2 off for the month of August!
Neither local, nor domestic, we’ll also be featuring a couple of out-of-towners this month, some cheeses I simply couldn’t pass up a good deal on! Both are Swiss born and both… well, just keep right on reading:
First up is every cheesemonger’s favorite Swiss Alpine: Chällerhocker!!!
I will not say Holla for Chällerhocker! (oh ,wait, shoot… I just did).
Pronounced “hall-er-haw-ker” and crafted by Walter Raas, a third generation master Appenzeller maker at Käserei Tufertschwil, this Swiss gem showcases everything you’ve ever loved about an Alpine cheese and then some. It’s sweet, creamy, fruity, nutty, funky, spicy and was absolutely born to melt atop your favorite style of cured hog for the ultimate “ham and Swiss” sandwich! The name Chällerhocker literally translates to “Sitting in the Cellar” or “Cellar Sitter” and is a reference to the extra aging involved (many describe Chällerhocker as an extra, extra, extra aged Appenzeller). Although the seemingly menacing, somewhat demonic looking, illustration on the wheel may be off-putting to some, the image actually depicts an excitable child checking on a cellared cheese during its maturation process. If you’re looking for Appenzeller folks, we do apologize. We stopped carrying it years ago. Why bother after tasting this Swiss masterpiece? Expect to find this cheese on a table, offered at $2 off per pound for the month of August while supplies last!
Last, but none the lesser, we bring to you from the Caroline Hostettler collection: Entelbucher Schwingerkäse! Sweet, lovely and extremely approachable… not unlike Caroline Hostettler herself! Caroline is the owner of Quality Cheese importing and distribution. She’s built a reputation for importing the best of the best when it comes to Swiss-made cheeses. One taste of Schwingerkäse and you’ll know just what I’m talking about. Raw, sweet and endlessly flavorful, this cheese will please! I do hate making the cliché “Aged Gruyère comparison” when it comes to any Swiss Alpine cheese, but… Schwingerkäse really does remind me of some of the better examples of Gruyère that I’ve had. Ugh, comparing it to Gruyère is like saying all two dimensional visual artists who abstractly render the human form remind me of Pablo Picasso… it’s just a stupid thing to say, but alas, the comparison has been drawn and I’m stupid. So be it! Now don’t you be stupid too! It’s rare that we’re able to offer such an amazing cheese at such a steep discount. Entelbucher Schwingerkäse will be $8 off per pound while supplies last! Come by for a taste and enjoy it while you can!