Update February 3, 2011: Curtis, the Costco buyer of their specialty cheese and The Lady chatted this morning and while he wouldn’t confirm who made this fine cheese, he did let The Lady know (and she asked me to pass this along), this cheese is a LIMITED EDITION that was added for Holiday 2010. That means what is in the stores now, is all there is and WHEN IT’S GONE, IT’S GONE… but Curtis assured The Lady it will return in the fall of 2011. Out thanks to Curtis for returning The Lady’s call.
Despite best efforts by your favorite Feline Foodie (that would be moi) I was unable to suss out which of the Vermont cheesemakers produce this superb cheddar for Costco’s private brand, Kirkland Signature. A phone call to Costco’s corporate office (complete with detailed message) went unreturned… shame on Costco employees for not returning calls to customers… especially to customers who will be writing a review of their product… you don’t need to be a brain surgeon… well, what do I know??? Perhaps you do need to be a brain surgeon to return phone calls… but I digress.
In our never-ending quest to taste every cheese in the world, The Lady picked up a wedge of Kirkland Signature “Cave-Aged Vermont Cheddar” at our local Costco and brought it home for The Man and moi to taste.
A little Costco/Kirkland Signature history/information first. The Lady and The Man have been members of Costco (and the previous Price Club) since the early 80s. They are devoted members and believe that Costco only sells top-of-the-line product in pretty much every product they carry. They have never been disappointed with anything that comes from Costco and the price points are amazing.
Kirkland Signature products must be as good or better than the national brand providing the product to Costco and must offer a substantial savings to the customer. In 2010 the percentage of Kirkland Signature product was about 10% of the entire inventory and the percentage will continue to grow. Costco chooses the products and then lets the members decide if the product stays or goes according to sales.
Now for the Cave-Aged Vermont Cheddar:
The rind indicates this is a clothbound cheddar made in the traditional English manner and only a small handful of Vermont cheesemakers produce a cheddar of this superb quality: Grafton, Jasper Hills, Cabot…
This just in… From a “secret source” we just learned that this cheese is from Cabot Creamery and is a younger version of their own clothbound cheddar.
The aroma is earthy, which is how clothbound cheddar should smell. The paste is an ivory cream color and the texture is crumbly. The taste is sweet and nutty… everything you look for in a cheddar of this quality. The lingering aftertaste is nice and mellow. The cheese is robust without overpowering the palate.
The Lady served it with Dare Cabaret Crackers and Pinot Colada Jam from Oregon’s Vintner’s Kitchen. (The Lady previously paired this jam with The Isle of Man Cheddar back in October, 2010 – Pinot Colada is a great pairing for mature cheddars…) As you might expect, the flavor burst between the cheese and the jam made The Man swoon. More people need to pair cheese and jams: the savory and the sweet combination is hard to beat.
I give Kirkland Signature Cave-Aged Vermont Cheddar 3 Paws out of 4 Paws but I must give the pairing of this cheddar with the jam 4 Paws out of 4 Paws (cause that’s all I’ve got). (I won’t rate the “call-Return” service from Costco… you be the judge…)
Serving Suggestions: On a cheese plate with jams, salamis and even mustards would create an immediate hit. This cheese would also be great in a mixed-cheese mac n cheese recipe. I suspect it will end up in such a recipe as the wedge weighed north of a pound… that’s another Costco trait – no small wedges…
Wine Pairing: Bota Box Merlot. The Man was stunned when The Lady brought home wine in a box; but her Wine Merchant friend, Mark from Southern-Odom, sells it and The Lady bought it based on his recommendation. Now Bota Box seems to appear more and more around the manse…
Beer Pairing: Following her trip to The Tualatin “No Pets” Country Club for the cheese tasting with our friend, Waldemar Albrecht, The Lady has developed a taste for Rogue Chocolate Stout and decided this cheddar would pair well with it… she was correct…
Source: Cow’s Milk