A couple months ago, I received a letter in the mail from my mom. Inside were newspaper and magazine clippings that only moms can send- she included some ideas for the blog. One clipping in particular caught my eye- a new service offered by one of my favorite shops, Star Provisions, called Cheese & Crackers.
It's essentially a cheese of the month club but with a twist- they are all artisanal cheeses from the South. Each month you'll receive three different locally made, handcrafted cheeses, in varying flavor and texture that equal a pound and a half total. Then different accoutrements are added...such as crackers, jams, honey, nuts- whatever Cheesemonger in Charge, Tim Gaddis desires.
Each month Tim picks cheeses that are in season and at their peak in terms of flavor and complexity. One example are the three cheeses featured above; Green Hill from Sweet Grass Dairy which is a soft ripened cheese that's really buttery with fresh milk and mushroom flavors. Then a Kentucky Bleu from Kenny's Farmhouse that has bold and spicy flavors. And lastly, an Appalachian cheese from Meadow Creek Dairy in Virginia that has a nutty and grassy flavor.
If you've been to Star Provisions in Atlanta, you have probably already fallen in love with their fromagerie. Tim offers approximately 120 cheeses at any one time, with 30-40% of the cheeses made in the South. Tim knows the importance of locality and reminds me that when you travel to France, to Italy, to Normandy- all the fromageries sell primarily locally made cheeses. Cheese tastes best when it's fresh, when it doesn't have to travel far to get to your plate.
When I asked Tim what cheeses we should look out for in the spring, he immediately mentioned goat cheeses. The goats will have had their kids and have started eating lots of fresh grass and flowers. As Tim shared, "These flavors become really bright and floral." Two creameries that are currently on his favorite radar right now that are producing really wonderful, small batch cheeses are the Looking Glass Creamery in Fair View, North Carolina and Nature's Harmony Farm in Elberton, Georgia.
In true Star Provisions fashion, there are lots of delicous jams, jellies and honey to choose from, which pair well with all manner of cheeses. Tim shared that he prefers honey with the stronger cheeeses to balance the bold and strong with the sweet. Jams do well with the softer cheeses but there's lots of exceptions. As Tim said, "Cheddar and chutneys are great together." Mix and match to find your favorites...
Your local cheesemonger can answer all your cheese questions and offer recommendations but it can't hurt to research creameries in your own state. Find out how they make their cheeses- What are the cows eating? How are they living? All the components of the Slow Food movement which I heartily endorse. Celebrate what's made locally and crafted with care and skill. As Tim shares, "Cheese & Crackers spreads the word of Southern cheeses because there are so many great ones to choose from." I love that...
*To learn more about Cheese & Crackers memberships, call the Star Provisions cheese shop at 404.365.0410, ext 132. The monthly shipment can be picked up at Star Provisions directly or shipped anywhere in the U.S.
Photos and Content: Sweet Peach