Hooked on Cheese: 26 Cheeses in 45 Minutes

Raymond takes one for the team, and samples a lot of cheese
Cheese tastings

Raymond Hook

Cheese producers included LaClare Farms, Landmark Creamery, and Cypress Grove.

I eat a lot of cheese. I have eaten a lot of cheese for a long time. It’s my job – it’s who I am, it’s what I do. I have to. And that’s the truth.

What’s “a lot of cheese,” you ask? Read on….

Last week I was invited to attend a trade show in Detroit by the Chicago-based distributor Fortune Gourmet. Their head saleswoman Kelly Cosgrove is a dear friend of mine so I jumped at the chance.

The doors to the show opened at 10 a.m., and by 10:45 I had tasted twenty-six different cheeses made by eight different cheesemakers. Yup. You read that correctly.

The first round: I spotted my pal Debbie Peterson of the famed northern California goat cheesemaker Cypress Grove Chevre. I love their cheeses and she had a full display. I noshed and chatted.

Next I ran into another friend, Andy Dalley of Beehive Cheese from Utah. I love their coffee-crusted cheese, Barely Buzzed, and it seemed appropriate for morning snacking.

I then wandered over to the Zingerman’s Creamery table. They’re part of the venerable Zingerman’s Deli group from Ann Arbor, Michigan, and always have high-quality cheese. I tasted seven (!) of their cheeses and there was not a bad one in the group.

Next I walked towards the Jacobs & Brichford booth. I wrote about their Arabella cheese in a previous Hooked on Cheese column and it’s still a true stand-out. It was great to chat with Leslie Jacobs and try some of her newer cheeses.

After J&B, I slid over to the LaClare Farms table. I had visited this Wisconsin goat dairy last year, and they have a great facility, dairy, café and even visible aging rooms. It was a pleasure to re-taste their cheeses, especially their stunning goat’s milk cheddar.

Another dairy then caught my eye: Green Dirt Farm, a farmstead sheep cheesemaker from Missouri. This dairy was new to me, and I liked their Wooly Rind and Dirt Lover cheeses – delicious with great names to boot!

Ambling down the aisle, I came across Landmark Creamery, a new dairy barely in their second year of cheese making. I tried their Anabasque, a cave-aged sheep’s milk cheese that reminded me of Ossau Iraty. The cheese was great, and I look forward to great things from these nice folks in the future.

Before I lapsed into a cheese coma I tried a few cheeses from the Indiana dairy Tulip Tree Creamery. I was most impressed with the Foxglove, a beer-washed double-cream cheese. It was lush and tangy with lots of flavor.

Twenty-six cheeses in forty-five minutes may have been a personal best for me. I live a good life and I count my lucky stars that this is what I get to call “work.” Keep the Lipitor coming!

You can follow Raymond's cheese adventures on Facebook, Twitter and his website. Additional reporting by Madeleine James.

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