I’m a simple girl when it comes to cheese… I LOVE Cheddars; mild cheddars; medium cheddars; clothbound cheddars and especially aged cheddars. Recently the kind folks at Vermont’s Grafton Village sent me a selection of their cheeses. Several were cheddars including their 4 Year Raw Milk Cheddar. Last night The Man and I enjoyed this cheese with some Italian cured meats, dark cherry preserves and cornichons with 100% Parmesan Crisps with Caraway Seeds from Kitchen Table Bakers. Turns out The Man has decided that cornichons are his new “go to” pickles… who knew???
Before I give you my thoughts on the tasting, I’d like to share with you some of the history of Grafton Village.
In the late nineteenth century, a small cooperative of dairy farmers began making cheese with their surplus milk in Grafton Village. In 1912 a fire destroyed the original factory and cheesemaking ceased until the 1960s when the non-profit Windham Foundation restored the facility and brought cheesemaking and a new era to the Village. The Windham Foundation’s mission is to promote the vitality of Grafton and Vermont’s rural communities through its philanthropic and educational programs and its subsidiaries whose operations contribute to these endeavors. Profits from the sales of Grafton Cheese go back into the Foundation to further their mission. In addition to the facility in Grafton, the company has built a new cheesemaking faculty in Brattleboro, Vermont.
In 2013 alone, Grafton Village cheeses won more than twenty awards, including the American Cheese Society’s Best of Show Runner-Up (for Bear Hill, which I will be reviewing in the coming days) in Madison this past summer.
The 4 Year Raw Milk Cheddar is made from milk collected from small, local dairies, another example of Windham Foundation’s mission continuing to re-vitalize the rural communities of Vermont. Microbial rennet is used to coagulate the milk into curds and whey, also making this cheese suitable for vegetarians.
The cheese is crumbly, with a robust, full flavor that makes cheddar lovers go wild with pleasure… or if it’s The Man… swoon with pleasure. The finish is smooth with that enjoyable bitterness that well-aged cheddars develop. We paired the 4 Year with both sweet and savory. On the sweet side, we schmeared a little dark cherry preserve, which was a perfect “opposites attract” pairing. We also paired the cheese with Italian cured meats and cornichons… that’s when The Man began to swoon… he, too, is a simple cheese lover… give him a little cheese, a little meat and in this case, a little pickle and he’s one happy The Man…
Grafton Village is a 4 Paws Winner… even though no longer hanging at The Manse, Spaulding’s rating system will continue to grade our cheese reviews…
Wine pairing: A Full-bodied Cabernet. Beer pairing: An IPA
We also served Caraway Seed Parmesan Crisps from Kitchen Table Bakers, the caraway adding a nice spice to the savory pairings with the meat and cornichons. (You can read our review of KTB’s original flavor Parmesan Crisps by clicking here.) Kitchen Table Bakers makes crisps that are 100% Parmesan cheese except for the herbs, spices, seeds and flavorings they add. Naturally gluten-free, these crisps are an excellent alternative to crackers for cheese lovers with gluten allergies.
(The cheese board to the left was handmade for me by my Uncle Ray, a marvelous woodworker. Thanks for adding to my collection with this beautiful addition.)
Grafton 4 Year Cheddar, as well as their other fine cheeses and Kitchen Table Bakers’ Parmesan Crisps are available in specialty food shops nationwide. You can also order these fine foods online below.
FTC Full Disclosure – The manufacturer sent me their product(s), without any obligation on my part, hoping I would review the product/cheese. For more information, please see my About Me page.