[Clarification, 12:35pm PST] I received confirmation that Whole Foods is holding Cheese Night in Canada, U.K., and U.S. locations, so international cheese lovers can still participate! Go to Whole Foods’ store list to find a Cheese Night event near you. Thanks for asking!
Recently, Whole Foods contacted me to share with me information about their quarterly Cheese Nights. Their next one, focusing on alternative milk cheeses, takes place this Tuesday, June 24, from 6pm-7:30pm at all Whole Foods locations. The event is free, and includes pairings. The mongers at my nearest location are going to be featuring charcuterie and sparkling wine with their cheeses!
What struck me about the whole idea is how accessible this makes artisan cheese. Sometimes, making your way around a cheese counter can be intimidating, especially if you’re new to the cheese world. With an event like these Cheese Nights, people can go through a guided tasting, experience some pairings, and talk to their local cheesemongers (cheesemongers love sharing the cheese love!). The Cheese Nights take place at all Whole Foods locations, on the same day, at the same time, so it’s like taking part in a mass cheese party.
I went to my neighborhood Whole Foods to check out the cheeses on Friday night. Mai, the cheesemonger coordinating my store’s Cheese Night, showed me around the cheese department. I picked up some Lesley Stowe fig/date/almond raincoast crisps and Croatian fig spread to pair with the cheeses, thanks to her suggestions! This Night’s theme is alternative milk, featuring the following:
Quadrello di Bufala, a washed-rind buffalo’s milk cheese from the Lombardy region in Italy. It’s a favorite amongst customers everywhere, and is easy to love. Kind of like a buffalo-milk version of Taleggio, it is simultaneously tangy and buttery, subtle yet lush.
Humboldt Fog, an American classic goat’s milk cheese made by Cypress Grove Chèvre in Arcata, California. With that ashen line through the center and snowy white paste, it makes such a striking statement on the cheese board. Add to that its lemon cake flavor and soft, cakey texture and it’s almost like having a cheese cake, as in, a cake made of cheese.
Nancy’s Hudson Valley Camembert, made by the Old Chatham Sheepherding Company in Old Chatham, New York. It’s made with a mix of ewe’s and cow’s milk, resulting in a lot of buttery texture and flavor, along with toasted walnut undertones. Its texture is like that of a triple crème, even with that long lasting tang that I get from other triple crèmes, but I’m not sure it actually is one. Looking for decadent? Found it.
Royal Goat Cheddar by Ashley Chase Estate in England. This one’s a pretty easy going cheddar, if you ask me. There’s a little sharpness on the front that develops into a berry and toasted nut flavor characteristic of many cheddars. It comes in little blocks, so it’s easy to cut up for a crowd.
Cassucio by Kite Hill Farm. This one’s a vegan cheese, made of macadamia and almond milk. I KNOW what you’re thinking—it’s a little different from what I usually write about, but I have nothing against vegan cheeses. I do really appreciate them because it’s a tall order to come up with a dairy cheese substitute. That said, this round of Cassucio, infused with fennel, dill, and chives, was yummy. Its texture was more crumbly than creamy, kind of like firm tofu, and the cheese was very flavorful. There wasn’t the same depth of flavor that you’d get with a dairy cheese, but I enjoyed it. Heck, I’m probably going to have some right after I post this online.
There you have it! Now you know, dear readers! If you’re free this coming Tuesday, and need to get some grocery shopping done, you might as well hop over to Whole Foods to get a bit of a cheese (and charcuterie and sparkling wine) fix as well! 6pm-7:30pm! June 24! Your local Whole Foods Market!
Thank you, Whole Foods, for reaching out to me, and for collaborating with me on this post! And a special thank you to cheesemonger Mai, who showed me around the cheese case at my local store!