Is your grocery store like mine — not carrying all of the Cabot cheese flavors? My local Target has crapped out altogether. And yet, this is just the type of food producer we should be supporting! Cabot is a cooperative of 1,200 family farms in New England and New York, making all kinds of cheese, yogurt, butter and other luscious dairy products. Their visitors center in Cabot, Vermont — hey! — is a wee bit remote, but oh-so-worth getting there! It’s where the whole magic started in 1919. I was glad to be hosted to experience it.
Cabot makes a range of Cheddar cheese, but even their most mild is interesting: redolent of the sweet clover grass and fresh air way up north. Cabot, Vermont is, after all, part of Vermont’s storied “Northeast Kingdom,” so-named for its special beauty. In this part of the world, they don’t shy away from aged, sharp or tangy flavors. I adore those notes! If you’re unfamiliar with cheese that doesn’t taste like a crayon or a stick of butter, do like I saw so many Vermont restaurants do: grate the sharp cheddar over your favorite foods, in the same manner that people grate Parmesan over Italian dishes.
During the tour, you’ll see the award-winning product being made. Another delightful part? The tasting room! I really looked forward to it, as I regularly peruse their website. It was hard for me to tell the difference between some of the varieties online and also, I was curious about flavors I’d never seen back home. Artisan Reserve styles are available regionally. They also have a super-premium, 5 year aged cheese that’s only available at the visitors center. Of course, I had to buy a brick to take home! To my palate, its sophisticated complex flavor profile included walnut husks, toasted yeast, sea salt and buttermilk. Love at first bite!
They sell a clothbound cheddar wheel that I’ve seen at Whole Foods locally.
There’s a “Farmers Legacy” collection that includes the flavor Alpine Cheddar. It’s got that grana texture and flavor of Parmesan and I found it absolutely addictive. I bought two bars of it and they disappeared within just a few days! Cheese does pack some calories, though Cabot has a some light varieties. If Alpine Cheddar would be available in the Baltimore area, I would be a very, very happy person! It’s perfect for snacking, good for savory or sweet meals and I’m sure I could work it into some quite interesting recipes. I’m envisioning a takeoff on Mexican corn with lime, mayo and hot sauce, when corn’s at its peak.
If you aren’t so much of a chef, I have a product suggestion for you: Cabot’s flavored Cheddar, such as hand-rubbed Tuscan Cheddar or hand-rubbed Everything Bagel. They’re fun — pair with a beer! — and you don’t have to overly think garnishes, etc. Cube them up on a wooden board and let the party begin!
The gift shop carries other locally made artisan food products, souvenirs, cookbooks and other goodies for the cheese lover. Something that’s absolutely free: they have the most fantastic, detailed recipe pamphlets! There are pairing suggestions for different varieties of pears, recipes incorporating wild game, things to make your pets — my dog loves cheese much more than meat — healthy recipes, even things to make for the Jewish holidays!