Behold NJ Cheese

NJ CheesesThis year I used all New Jersey cheeses for my cheese trays on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  These five cheeses got rave reviews; each one had something special to offer.  Even that little mouse on the Cherry Grove Brie in the upper left was excited!  (The sixth, in the bowl, was my homemade ricotta. I had a saucer of NJ honey-soaked walnuts on the side for that, and the brie.)

I fashioned cheese flags with wooden picks and adhesive labels I printed out, and printed out a sheet with the descriptions below, so the curious could read about the cheeses.  All were cows’ milk except the Oldwick Shepherd.  (If you know of anyone in NJ making commercially available fresh goat cheese, I’d be interested in knowing.  Also, if anyone knows a source of disposable write-on cheese flags, I’d love to have a source.)

Bobolink Dairy, Vernon NJ

Zinfandel-cured Frolic – Frolic is a collaboration between Bobolink Dairy and three Amish graziers. Made from raw milk from grass-fed herds, it has a grassy, complex yet subtle flavor. This limited edition is enhanced by a few weeks of immersion in the must of local Zinfandel grapes.

Cave-ripened Cheddar – Jonathan White’s truly traditional cheddar, cave-aged with a natural, bloomy rind.

Jean-Louis Bleu – named in honor of the memory of chef Jean-Louis Palladin, who encouraged food artisans to aim for bolder, earthier flavors.

Cherry Grove Farm, Lawrenceville NJ 

Buttercup Brie – A fresh Camembert style brie; its bloomy rind hides a delicious soft center with a deep rich color. 

Valley Shepherd, Long Valley NJ

Usually Bon Appetit has two or three Valley Shepherd cheeses in stock, but when I went they only had one. But this is one of my favorites, and a good representative of this dairy’s products.

Oldwick Shepherd – Raw sheep’s cheese, A cave ripened, raw milk cheese that develops a brownish-white mold exterior during its 3-4 month stay in our cave. Great earthy aroma, nutty smooth finish. Just a wonderful Pyrenees style sheep’s milk cheese. Batches vary based on pasture grass, temperature and time of year.

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10 thoughts on “Behold NJ Cheese

  1. Just bought a wedge of Manchego Semi-soft cheese – from the sheeps in Spain – featured at Trader Joes. Sells for $10.99 a lb. though I bought a modest amount. Seems nice, dry, and not salty. Joan Goldstein

  2. They all look and sound wonderful. Glad to see that Jonathan White is around. Didn’t realize he’d moved to NJ. I just returned from the Marin County farmer’s market where I visited the Cowgirl’s Creamery Booth and bought some of their Red Hawk. Looking forward to trying it tonight as part of a cheese course tonight along with some Humboldt Blue Fog. I’m putting Manchego on the salad tonight – inspired by the menu from San Francisco’s Zuni Cafe – will be trying to duplicate their salad of Frisee w/ sultana raisins in anisette, Manchego and hazelnuts. Great to know that NJ cheese-makers are making it possible to Eat Locally in the Garden State! Hope to try some of those cheeses when I head east next summer. P.S. Made Sou Boreg w/ feta, a local gouda, and jack cheese for Christmas – it was a big hit, thanks to Sam’s recipe!

  3. Boy, you are talking about some of my favorite cheeses, etc! It must be possible to get a bad meal on the “Left Coast,” but so far it hasn’t happend to me.

    NJ gained bigtime when the Whites relocated here from NY – they had the Egg Farm Dairy, right? Their cheeses were just amazing, really, well worth mail ordering, which is what I had to do.

  4. Yes, the Egg Farm Dairy. I think they ran into problems with distribution up there in lower Putnam, upper Westchester counties. For awhile, the local supermarket was carrying their cheeses, but they were not storing them properly, so the Whites stopped selling them there. I was invited to do an apprenticeship with them, but didn’t have time in my schedule and I really regret that I never got to do that. If you run into them at a food event, please give them my regards.

  5. I loved the garnishes on your cheese tray, so last night for a New Year’s Eve party, I sprinkled the cheese platter with toasted pecans and dried cherries and cranberries. It was a big hit, so thanks for the inspiration!

  6. I found a source for paper cheese tags here: http://www.formaticum.com/shop/home.php?cat=251
    They are kind of large, but might be ok on a large cheese tray.
    They come in packages of 100, so seem like a good item to be purchased by a group of cheese-lovers. This site also sells cheese journals for keeping track of favorite cheeses, and many other cheese storage and serving products.

  7. Thanks for that great tip, they did not come up in previous searches I made, but it’s been a while since I looked, and their smaller size is perfect.

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