Three Cheddars


I was in New Hampshire yesterday and did some food shopping at the Upper Valley Co-op, an excellent source of many food items with local Vermont and New Hampshire cheeses prominent among them. On another recent visit, I had picked up some Cabot cloth-bound cheddar cheese affineured by Jasper Hill Farm. It was excellent, but in a recent discussion on Facebook, a number of people made a case for Grafton Village cloth-bound cheddar and for Shelburne farms cloth bound cheddar. The Co-op carried the Cabot and the Grafton Village, but unfortunately not the Shelburne. In its place, I picked up another clothbound cheddar, this from Piermont, New Hamphire's Robie Farm , called "Swaledale." All three are raw milk cloth-bound cheddars.

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L-R: Cabot, Swaledale & Grafton Village, top: raw, bottom: toasted, Same order in top photo

In an effort to compare the three, I conducted a blind tasting amongst my family, laying out three columns of cheese, each column containing one of the cheeses atop a slice of King Arthur Flour baguette purchased the same day at the same store. A second sampling of cheese melted atop toasted baguette slices was conducted in the same way. In both tests the Cabot cloth bound was the unanimous favorite with the Grafton second and the Swaledale third. All three cheeses were very good, but the Cabot was felt to have the most "depth" and the best flavor of the three. This result was most pronounced in the raw sampling. The toasted sampling was decidedly closer, though Cabot still won out. Ironically, the unit prices for the three cheeses ranged in reverse order from where they finished in the taste test with the Swaledale the most expensive and the Cabot least. None of the three were cheap. The Cabot sold for $17.99/lb, The Grafton $18.49/lb and the Swaledale $23.79/lb. The Cabot currently sells for $19.99/lb at Murray's in NYC.

I would still like to compare the Cabot head to head to the Shelburne farm cloth bound cheddar as well as another great, California's Fiscalini Bandaged and also to some better English cheddars. To date, the greatest cheddar of my memory is a ten year aged cheddar from Ontario purchased at Fromagerie Chaput in Montreal a number of years ago.The Cabot is right up there, however, albeit not quite at the level of the Ontario cheese.

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