Food & Wine’s editors try hundreds of products each year while researching stories. Here, senior food editor Kristin Donnelly names the five most spectacular cheese of the year.
Bellweather Farms Basket Ricotta; Sonoma, Calif.
This ricotta cheese is made traditionally, using the farm’s leftover whey from its cow and sheep cheeses. The ricotta drains in Italian-style baskets, and it’s so thick that it tastes almost buttery. From $8 for 12 ounces; bellweatherfarms.com.
Maplebrook Farm Burrata; Vermont
With its liquid center of fresh cream and stracciatella (shreds of mozzarella), burrata is like the molten chocolate cake of cheese. It’s best when it’s fresh, fresh, fresh — and this Vermont version, made by a Puglian cheesemaker, is as good as it gets. $13 each; murrayscheese.com.
Carr Valley Cheese Casa Bola Mellage; Wisconsin
This 100-year-old Wisconsin cheese company ages its new, nutty cheese — made with sheep, goat, and cow milks — for two years, so it’s super-complex. More than one F&W taster called it "phenomenal." $15.70 per pound; carrvalleycheese.com.
Andante & Noble Ballad; Petaluma, Calif.
The partnership between cult cheesemaker Soyoung Scanlan of Andante Dairy (whose fans include Thomas Keller and Daniel Humm) and Noble Handcrafted (makers of bourbon-barrel-aged syrups and vinegars) yielded a delicious, semi-firm aged goat cheese. Its rind is washed with Noble’s maple syrup, so the cheese is less tangy than many goat cheeses. $27 per pound; mikuni.com.
Kapiti Kikorangi; New Zealand
This New Zealand cow-milk cheese is not as pungent as most blues, most likely because it’s a triple cream, meaning that it has more than 72 percent butterfat. It’s richly creamy and slightly nutty, with just enough barnyardy blue-cheese funk. kapiticollection.co.nz.
— Kristin Donnelly, Senior Food Editor, Food & Wine
More from Food & Wine: