May is American Cheese Month—and what better way to celebrate our country’s amazing artisan cheesemaker community than with a luscious cheese board bursting with fresh seasonal flavors?
After all, spring is a really special time in the creamery. An abundance of rich milk is flowing with the coming of new calves, lambs, and kids—a flush that gives us traditional fresh cheeses like chevre and fromage blanc. The animals are back on grass after a winter of hay, and those fresh, green meadows and wildflowers give springtime cheeses terroir that’s unique not only to place but also to time of year.
We checked in with some of our cheesemaker friends to find out what’s coming out of their caves right now, along with their favorite accompaniments and pairing ideas to make a springtime cheese board. You can try these cheeses for yourself in our online store—or subscribe to our American Artisan Collection to get luscious new cheeses delivered to your door on a Monthly or Quarterly basis.
Green Dirt Farm, Weston, Missouri
At this Animal Welfare Approved® dairy, which specializes in sheep’s and cow’s milk cheeses, springtime brings the complexity in bloomy wheels such as the Robiola-like Ruby. “In the springtime when we are getting fluid sheep's milk again, it becomes more of a washed/bloomy hybrid,” says events director Alix Hoylman. “It results in a slightly funkier, oniony flavor.”
Prairie Tomme: This nutty, grassy wheel makes a great stand-in for Pecorino Romano. Serve it on a classic antipasti platter and a bold red wine, a dark beer, or a glass of whiskey—or simply shave it over your spring salads and pastas.
Dirt Lover: Accent the richness of this bloomy button with a lemony cocktail, blackberry jam, and a box of crisp Effie’s Oatcakes. Or simply enjoy it with a fruity glass of rosé or hazy saison.
Ruby: Snack on this pudgy, buttery square with prosciutto, olives, cornichons, or roasted veggies. Sip a Belgian-style beer, a funky white wine, or sparkling wine alongside.
My Artisano, Cincinnati, Ohio
Owner and cheesemaker Eduardo Rodriguez looks to local farms and fields for his favorite spring pairings. That includes green or foraged wild onions, which he chops and bakes with butter atop bloomy wheels or simmers with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to make an onion vinaigrette reduction for drizzling over washed rind cheeses.
Sharon Creek: Pair this pillowy, snow-white Brie-style wheel with wildflower honey and roasted nuts, or go savory and bake with green onions.
Glenwood: Tangy and earthy, this Italian-inspired toma shines with first-of-the-season strawberry-rhubarb jam.
Cooper Creek: Reminiscent of Taleggio, this washed rind has a rich, fudgy texture and bready, nutty notes. Set them off with bright, juicy strawberries on a cheese board, or layer the umami by pairing it with asparagus spears roasted with slices of red onion, topped with a squeeze of fresh lemon.
Firefly Farms, Accident, Maryland
Firefly’s delicate, award-winning goat cheeses were made to take center stage on a cheese board, but they’re great for incorporating into your springtime menus. Sales director Cristi Menard recommends crumbling their blue-tinged pyramid Mountain Top over a zippy arugula salad tossed with figs and balsamic vinaigrette. She also loves to warm bark-wrapped wheels of their Spruce Reserve in the oven to create a fondue-like dip for spring veggies, especially new potatoes.
Mountain Top: For the perfect wine pairing with this American take on Valençay, reach for the Riesling—both dry and off-dry will work well.
Merry Goat Round: Pair this creamy goat’s milk Brie excellent with a spring delicacy like pickled ramps and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, or spread it on a baguette with French jambon for a quick yet indulgent lunch.
Spruce Reserve: Enjoy this rich, spoonable specialty—it’s the first goat’s milk cheese aged with the traditional Alpine spruce bark—with your favorite New World Pinot Noir.
Redhead Creamery, Brooten, Minnesota
Sure, warm weather means fresh grass and sweet strawberries—but it also signals the start of grilling season. Redhead owner-cheesemaker Alise Sjostrom saves a spot on the grill for their Little Lucy Brie, then pairs the molten wheel with grilled asparagus.
Little Lucy: Kick back and enjoy the spring weather with a glass of wheat beer or sparkling wine and a wedge of this bright, mushroomy wheel.
Lucky Linda: Pair the big flavors in this earthy, nutty clothbound cheddar with your favorite dark ale.
St. Anthony: While we tend to associate Raclette-style washed rinds like this one with snowy ski lodged, it lends itself beautifully to warm-weather cooking, too. Melt it over burgers to enjoy with a lightly hopped pilsner or a glass of Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris.
Boston Post Dairy, Enosburg Falls, Vermont
This highly decorated family farm in northern Vermont specializes in goat milk wheels. Cheesemaker Anne Doe turns to the panty for versatile pairings like tree fruit and candied nuts to go along with our trio of aged goat and mixed-milk cheeses.
Eleven Brothers: Drizzle a slice of this buttery, nutty wheel with your favorite local honey. For more of a meal, add sliced apple and crusty bread.
Trés Bonne: Emphasize the caramel qualities of this Gouda-like cheese with slices of Vermont Salumi’s red wine and garlic salami, a dollop of fig jam, and your favorite crackers.
Gisele: This crystal-flecked Alpine wheel is washed in spiced apple cider during the aging process. Bring out the sweetness with sliced pears, blackberries and the farm’s own maple-glazed walnuts.
Jasper Hill Farm, Greensboro, Vermont
From Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom come some of the country’s most celebrated cheeses—and in the springtime, their makers turn to the woods for culinary inspiration. “If you have access to ramps, throw a few on the grill and enjoy them with crusty bread and slabs of Little Hosmer,” says cheesemaker Lilith Spencer.
Bayley Hazen Blue: While Spencer recommends the floral and herbaceous honey from Barr Hill—which is made into the excellent Barr Hill Gin at nearby Caledonia Spirits—your local spring honey will complement the notes of toasted nuts and anise spice just as well. Crumble the cheese over slices of toast or grilled bread, then drizzle on that golden goodness.
Landaff: The tangy, brown-butter qualities of this Welsh-style cheddar make it a perfect playmate with vegetables raw and cooked. Shave it over a spring pea salad, melt it with roasted radishes, or grate it over a pile of charred greens—or simply enjoy it as-is with a fruity, tropical cocktail.
Little Hosmer: Age this rich, earthy bloomy rind to peak ripeness in your Cheese Grotto and spoon it over roasted veggies—ramps, carrots, mushrooms, whatever you’ve got. Or—if you don’t want to wait that long—warm it on the grill or in the oven until it’s melty and dippable, then dig in.
Miracle Springs Farm, Ancram, New York
At this Hudson Valley goat farm, sustainability guides everything from how animals are raised to how cheese is made. Here are some of owner Jaimie Cloud’s favorite pairings (read our interview with her).
Signal Rock: The crisp, refreshing acidity of an Albariño brings out floral notes while cutting the richness of this bloomy button shot through with an ash layer made from burnt beet leaves.
Roe Jan Reserve: Make the most of tender greens with a springtime pesto: buzz up fresh spinach, sunflower seeds, cloves, and avocado oil, then finely grate this aged raw milk cheese and fold it in. Toss with pasta and serve.
What are your favorite ways to serve cheese with spring flavors? Let us know!
Leave a comment