A note on seasonality:
Late winter is kind of a weird time for cheese; most sheep and goat producers haven’t even started milking yet and won’t be till April. Currently, most of these farmers are in their breeding stage, which means barnyard bonanza for the animals and sleepless nights for the humans. During this period the majority of the milk is reserved for feeding their babies, meaning the remaining milk is all that’s left to make cheese (often this is very watery milk and is not ideal for producing fine quality cheeses).
In order to keep up with demand many cheesemakers will use frozen curd. As a result, store favorites such as Kunik, Cherry Glen, and Humboldt Fog are simply not as good as they are during the other 8 months of the year. These types of cheese have a noticeable lack of brightness, complexity and often remain either too chalky or too watery in texture. But, we’re nearly out of winter and in another month we’ll begin to see a significantly positive change in the fresh cheese category, and just beyond that the soft-ripened category will come to fruition.
Having said all of that, there are still plenty of great cheeses in our case. Personally I’d stick with bold wash-rinds (Winnimere and Taleggio) and aged alpine styles (Gruyere/Appenzeller/Pleasant Ridge); cow’s milk cheeses are not as affected by seasonality. You could liken the soft-ripened goat cheeses to Asparagas in the spring and cheddar to apples in the fall. All of the above is what makes artisianal cheese so exciting- each season brings a new & unique bounty of glorious cheeses. Anyway, next time you’re at the store ask Caitlin, Amelia, or myself what’s good right now and we’ll give you a sample of our current favs.