When I arrive at Sprout Creek Farm in New York’s Hudson Valley just outside of Poughkeepsie, it’s snowing for the first time this season. The grey sky blankets the farm’s rolling 200 acres with gentle white flurries. The last of fall’s vibrant foliage blazes from the trees. It’s gorgeous here.
Recently, I made a spontaneous decision to travel to Lebanon, which turned out to be a revelation in cheesemaking. This was prompted by my partner, who was attending a last-minute wine trip in the country during a week we were planning to spend together.
After he asked me what I thought about joining him on an excursion to this Middle Eastern country, it took just a split second of consideration before I booked my flights. Prior to leaving, however, I began my research and discovered that Lebanon was richer in its food and wine culture than I could ever imagine. Of course, being a cheese professional, my vested interest was in this region’s cheese scene.
As an internationally renowned heavyweight, Wisconsin is the Midwest’s undisputed champion of cheese. But don’t overlook its scrappy western neighbor. In Minneapolis, an urban creamery, a vibrant dining scene and bustling cheese shops put Minnesota on the cheese enthusiast’s map. True, winters can be brisk, but that’s nothing a locally-sourced cheese plate or a bubbling pot of fondue can’t fix.
Appenzellerland, set between the Alps and Lake Constance in the northeast region of Switzerland, is a place where traditions are closely guarded and time is a relative term. In fact, as I walk through the car-free village of Appenzell, with its candy colored, chalet-style houses, quaint restaurants and whimsical displays of garden elves lining the sidewalks, it’s the anachronism of brightly clad tourists taking selfies on their iPhones that reminds me I’m actually in the 21st century.
Room temperature and naked.
That’s how Cheddar lovers say they want their favorite aged cheese served, perhaps paired with a cracker. Admittedly, a slice of mature Cheddar is a palate pleaser par excellence needing little garnishment.