When you're on the hunt for a fabulous cheddar cheese, you turn to an artisanal shop or the gourmet cheese counter, right? No need! Turns out, the regular ol' dairy case at your supermarket has two of the fanciest sharp cheddars you can buy, for around six bucks a block.
Buy one of these for your cheese board or your next batch of mac and cheese.
This sharp cheddar, made primarily with milk from cows grazing on the lush grasses of Ireland, is aged for more than two years. Why does that matter? The longer the aging, the more intense the flavor gets. But that usually means the price goes up too, so a two-year cheddar made from grass-fed milk for around $6 a block is a serious bargain.
It tastes far fancier than the price — rich and creamy, with a complex, sharp tang rounded out with nutty notes, like a great Parmesan. It even has some of those delicious little crunchy crystals that are a hallmark of long-aged cheeses.
Of course, the price for this cheese varies depending on the store and the location. I nabbed the Kerrygold in Portland, Oregon, for $5.99. In Manhattan, it goes for about $7.39.
On the East Coast, Cabot Creamery dominates the shelves, and rightly so. The Vermont-based creamery makes a huge line of award-winning cheeses that are available at most supermarkets — although the selection narrows and the prices rise the further west you go. (It's usually around $5 on the East Coast and around $6.99 on the West Coast.) Of the vast lineup, this one in particular is truly stellar and a jaw-dropping bargain.
Aged for 16 months, it's aged longer than Cabot's Seriously Sharp cheddar. It's exceptionally rich but still has plenty of tang. While the Kerrygold is drier and more crumbly, with a complex and nutty flavor, this one is smoother and softer, with an underlying sweetness to the wallop of sharp cheddar flavor.
In addition to its yummy cheese, Cabot Creamery has a lot going for it. Owned by a cooperative of Vermont farmers, it's a certified B Corp recognized for its dedication to strict environmental standards. The co-op even plays nice with others. It partnered with Jasper Hill Farm, a fellow Vermont dairy and cheese producer, to make the award-winning (and $25/pound) Cabot Clothbound cheddar. According to Jasper Hill, the partnership is what made it possible for them to launch their cheese-aging program and expand their lineup of other award-winning cheeses (the soft, gooey Harbison is a particular favorite of mine). Isn't that sweet?
Have you tried either of these cheddars? What did you think?