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American Artisan Cheese

  • 5 WAYS TO ENJOY SPRING CHEESES

    spring cheese blogSpring is a wonderful time to explore seasonal varieties of artisan cheeses which aren't typically available year round, or hit the peak of perfection when paired with the flavors of the season. Nothing beats a classic grilled cheese or dunking a fresh baguette into a velvety bloomy rind, but here are a few of the ways we're branching out our cheese repertoire this Spring.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Breakfast

    pff chevre and pear tree
    Melting a few slices of Gruyere into an omelet is sure to enhance the most important meal of the day, but citrusy, fluffy cheese like sheep milk Brebis or fresh chèvre are wonderful breakfast staples. Topped with fresh fruit, honey, preserves, or olive oil these cheeses are lower in fat while imparting the important protein, vitamins, calcium and minerals you need to start your day.

     

    Salads

    etude 500x500

    One of the best parts of Spring dining is the bounty of fresh, green vegetables. Sweet peas, asparagus, artichokes and ramps are all amazing when paired with the naturally grassy and lactic cheeses coming into season. A bright salad of shaved asparagus or celery drizzled with olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper pairs perfectly with a grating of Etude from Andante Dairy. Try it over chilled Spring pea and ricotta ravioli for a bright yet filling pasta salad for warmer months.

     

    Covered in Herbs

    pecorino camomilla 500x500

    A large part of why artisan cheese is so delicious is that the farmers (who are oftentimes, also the cheesemakers) who care for the animals providing the milk truly care about their herd and the land they are raised on. Their lush surroundings, vibrant scenery and healthy diet imparts a signature herbal, grassy and earthy flavor into a lot of the fresh Spring cheeses you will find in our case this time of year. For that reason, cheese aged in a covering of herbs or whipped with fresh ones is such a harmonious combination. Most people are familiar with goat cheese coated in herbs like Dutch Girl Creamery's Chèvre Frais, but a unique offering like Pecorino Camomilla - coated in chamomile tea is a delightful addition to a Spring cheese plate.

     

    Start 'Kidding' Around

    juliana 500x500

    Spring is known to the cheesemaking community as 'kidding season' - the time when baby goats are born and there is an abundance of fresh goat milk. You'll find that most goat cheese aren't aged for very long, due to their tendency to become a bit gamey after extensive aging. However you will find that a little bit of aging goes a long way with Julianna from Capriole Farms, aged for just 3-6 weeks in a light coating of herbs. For a mellow washed rind with a complex palate, try Baetje Farms' extremely seasonal Fleur de la Vallee - it's toasty, buttered bread paste is the perfect complement to crisp, refreshing lagers.

     

    Paired with Wine

    It's no surprise that pairing cheese with wine is one of our all time favorite ways to enjoy cheese. If you've been inside of one of our stores, you may have noticed that we arrange our wine wall to reflect to reflect the cheese in our case. That means that every bottle we source is a an ideal pairing for artisan cheese, and furthermore we keep them arranged from to light to heavy to make pairing them with subtle to more more complex cheeses much easier. Here's a small sampling of the wine pairings we're playing with this Spring:

     

    WEINGUT DOSTERT 'ALVA'

    Spritzy and fresh with notes of yellow apple and green pear with the slightest and most fascinating whisper of bubbles on the finish, this wine is Chicago summer in every sip. The ideal pairing for most wines in our cheese case but its magical with the Wabash Cannonball.

    FIELD RECORDINGS 'FICTION' ROSE IN A CAN

    fiction rose can 500x500

    A bold and beautiful Rose that's mostly Grenache that's perfect for outdoor drinking all summer long. Strawberry and cherry fruits followed by a touch of spice make this an ideal match with Prairie Fruits Farms' Chèvre Frais.

    EMILE BEYER PINOT GRIS

    A sunny interpretation of Pinot Gris with just the slightest touch of sweet on the finish. We've also enjoyed how easy it makes our life at the bar. This wine is EXTREMELY versatile in food pairing and quite refreshing on its own but we really really like it with Zingerman's Manchester.

  • Spring Brook Farm - Pastoral's Artisan Producer Festival Highlights

    farms for city kidsSpring Brook Farm in Reading, Vermont runs the Farms For City Kids Foundation providing an outdoor classroom where urban youth explore new dimensions of learning as academics are integrated into everyday farm activities that practice and teach sustainability.

    John and Janine Putnam studied their craft from an artisan cheesemaker in the French Alps a decade ago. Today, after several years of practice on their own Vermont farm, they are sharing what they have learned with the young students at Spring Brook Farm. The Farms for City Kids Foundation brings students to this dairy farm to participate in their interactive, agricultural classroom. The raw milk from the farm’s 40 Jersey cows is used to make 20 pound wheels of the complex and meaty Tarentaise that both the students and the American Cheese Society give top honors, along with their nutty, Alpine-style Raclette.

    Taste the delicious cheeses from the inspiring cheesemakers of Spring Brook Farm at Pastoral's 4th Annual Artisan Producer Festival.

    Held every Spring at Chicago's French Market, Pastoral's 4th Annual Artisan Producer Festival on Saturday, April 12th from 11am - 3pm is a FREE tasting and meet-the-maker event features producers of artisan cheese, bread, beer, wine, charcuterie, confections, and other food stuffs. Along with a stage show packed with chef demonstrations and informative panels.

    FOLLOW US HERE AND ON FACEBOOK IN THE WEEKS LEADING UP TO THE FESTIVAL AS WE CONTINUE TO PROFILE MORE OF THE PRODUCERS ATTENDING THIS YEAR!

  • Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board - Pastoral's 4th Annual Artisan Producer Festival Highlights

    WMMB LogoThe Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board is a nonprofit organization of Wisconsin dairy producers that promotes Wisconsin Cheese—made in 600 varieties, types and styles—along with milk and other Wisconsin dairy products. The board creates and executes marketing campaigns to consumers, food service professionals and retailers throughout the country.

    You can find several members of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
    at our 4th Annual Artisan Producer Festival including, La Clare Farms, Saxon Creamery, Hidden Springs Creamery, Clock Shadow Creamery, Holland's Family Cheese, Uplands Cheese and Widmer Cheese Cellars. Thanks to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board's major sponsorship, Pastoral can keep the Artisan Producer Festival the largest FREE event of its kind.

    Held every Spring at Chicago's French Market, Pastoral's 4th Annual Artisan Producer Festival on Saturday, April 12th from 11am - 3pm is a FREE tasting and meet-the-maker event features producers of artisan cheese, bread, beer, wine, charcuterie, confections, and other food stuffs. Along with a stage show packed with chef demonstrations and informative panels.

    FOLLOW US HERE AND ON FACEBOOK IN THE WEEKS LEADING UP TO THE FESTIVAL AS WE CONTINUE TO PROFILE MORE OF THE PRODUCERS ATTENDING THIS YEAR!

  • Milton Creamery - Pastoral's Artisan Producer Festival Highlights

    milton-cheese-making-013Milton Creamery was established in 2006 as a partnership between Amish dairy farmers and the Musser Family. The Musser Family in Milton, IA uses milk from local Amish dairy farmers to create some of the most consistently delicious and award-winning cheeses today.

    The Musser family has trusted the cheesemaking to their son Galen, who has been in charge of cheese production since he was 16 years old - winning his first award at 17! The Pastoral favorite, Prairie Breeze not only secured Galen his first U.S. Cheese Championship award, but continues to be an award winning cheese to this day, with its crystalline texture and flaky shards of flavor.

    Sample the fruity and complex Prairie Breeze cheddar and more at Pastoral's 4th Annual Artisan Producer Festival.

    Held every Spring at Chicago's French Market, Pastoral's 4th Annual Artisan Producer Festival on Saturday, April 12th from 11am - 3pm is a FREE tasting and meet-the-maker event features producers of artisan cheese, bread, beer, wine, charcuterie, confections, and other food stuffs. Along with a stage show packed with chef demonstrations and informative panels.

    FOLLOW US HERE AND ON FACEBOOK IN THE WEEKS LEADING UP TO THE FESTIVAL AS WE CONTINUE TO PROFILE MORE OF THE PRODUCERS ATTENDING THIS YEAR!

  • Clock Shadow Creamery - Pastoral's Artisan Producer Festival Lineup

    ClockShadowCreameryClock Shadow Creamery is Milwaukee's first ever urban cheese factory, located in the historic Walker's Point district where it churns out squeaky curds, ricotta, quark and other fresh cheeses from milk supplied by local dairy farmers.

    Making their selection of cheeses fresh every day is part of their commitment to staying environmentally sustainable, while also providing the freshest, highest quality product available to their wholesale and retail customers.

    Sample Clock Shadow Creamery's impressive fresh urban cheeses at our 4th Annual Artisan Producer's Festival.

    Held every Spring at Chicago's French Market, Pastoral's 4th Annual Artisan Producer Festival on Saturday, April 12th from 11am - 3pm is a FREE tasting and meet-the-maker event features producers of artisan cheese, bread, beer, wine, charcuterie, confections, and other food stuffs. Along with a stage show packed with chef demonstrations and informative panels.

    FOLLOW US HERE AND ON FACEBOOK IN THE WEEKS LEADING UP TO THE FESTIVAL AS WE CONTINUE TO PROFILE MORE OF THE PRODUCERS ATTENDING THIS YEAR!

  • Baetje Farms - Pastoral's Artisan Producer Festival Highlights

    baetje farmsBaetje Farms is situated in the oldest town in Missouri in Sainte Genevieve County, amidst a land rich in agricultural diversity.

    Steve Baetje prides himself on the great care he takes of his goat herd. The animals are free to do whatever they’d like over acres of land including drinking from an endless supply of natural spring water. During kidding season, all the fresh milk produced is used for fresh goat cheeses and well as beautifully aged ones.

    You can find Baetje Farms' beautiful Bloomsdale as the featured centerfold of the Spring 2014 issue of Culture Magazine: the word on cheese.  Their Marinated Feta is the perfect Spring treat to add to add to salads, pasta or as a savory snack on its own; meet the makers, sample these cheeses and more at our 4th Annual Artisan Producer's Festival.

    Held every Spring at Chicago's French Market, Pastoral's 4th Annual Artisan Producer Festival on Saturday, April 12th from 11am - 3pm is a FREE tasting and meet-the-maker event features producers of artisan cheese, bread, beer, wine, charcuterie, confections, and other food stuffs. Along with a stage show packed with chef demonstrations and informative panels.

    FOLLOW US HERE AND ON FACEBOOK IN THE WEEKS LEADING UP TO THE FESTIVAL AS WE CONTINUE TO PROFILE MORE OF THE PRODUCERS ATTENDING THIS YEAR!

  • The Pastoral Oscurds - Best Aged: Cabot Clothbound Cheddar

    Continuing with our awards ceremony for the most intriguing cheese to cross our cutting boards this year is the Best Aged Category.

    Best Aged - Cabot Clothbound Cheddar

    best aged awardCabot Creamery was one of the first family farm Cooperatives in Vermont when it was established in 1919 and to this day is renowned for its quality American Cheddar production. In 2003, Cabot approached Jasper Hill about a collaboration effort to produce a world-class Clothbound Cheddar in the English clothbound style. The Cellars at Jasper Hill, which encompass 22,000 square feet of facilities built specifically for affinage, or the careful ageing and ripening of cheese. With milk sourced solely from Kempton Farm of Peacham, VT, Cabot Creamery produces 40 pound wheels of cheddar, which are wrapped in muslin and rubbed with lard in the traditional English cheddar style before being sent to the Jasper Hill.While in the Cellars, the cheese is aged for 10—14 months in a temperature and humidity controlled chamber. During the process, the wheels are continually monitored, brushed & turned to ensure even ripening around the huge wheels.The cheese retains the tangy sharpness that most Americans have come to expect from cheddar, but the subtle notes of caramel and hay that come through bring a surprising and subtle complexity to the cheese.

    Check back here, Twitter and Facebook all week long as we unveil the recipients of the Pastoral Oscurds!

  • Pastoral Presents: The 12th Day of Cheesemas

    On the 12th Day of Cheesemas My Cheesemonger Gave to Me...Wisconsin's Pride and Joy of Luxury

    rushcreek The French cheese this is fashioned after, Vacherin Mont d'Or, may have just met its match. This spruce-wrapped, washed rind ripened beauty will win the hearts of all who demand flavor. Uplands Cheese Company's Andy Hatch modified the size of the original recipe in order to optimize the minimum 60 days that this cheese - made from raw autumn milk - must be aged.

    Notes of savory bacon strike first but quickly dissipate into a delicate floral character that leaves you wanting more. Remove the top rind and serve with a spoon.

    Stop by any one of our three retail locations in the city of Chicago, and you could be the random winner of 1/3 lb. of this amazing cheese!

  • Pastoral Presents: The 11th Day of Cheesemas

    On the 11th Day of Cheesemas My Cheesemonger Gave to Me...A Mixed-Milk Cheese That's Dense and Pillowy

    MietteThis little "crumb" has the intoxicating aroma of fermented grapes and an amazing cake-like consistency.

    One bite confirms that the only way to improve upon the classic French crottin is to add a little bit of sheep's milk into the mix! Missouri-based Baetje Farm took the cheese world by storm this summer and we haven't looked back since we first set our eyes on this beauty.

    For a truly decadent delight, pair Miette with Pear Tree strawberry rhubarb preserves and a chunk of dark chocolate... go ahead, you deserve it!

    Stop by any one of our three retail locations in the city of Chicago, and you could be the random winner of 1/3 lb. of this amazing cheese!

  • Meet the Best of the Fest

    The 3rd Annual Pastoral’s Artisan Producer Festival was a HUGE success. It was a full house with 89 artisan producers and vendors, plus over 12,000 guests in attendance!

    Culture Magazine: The Word on Cheese sponsored a special ‘Best of the Fest’ Competition. We are very pleased to present to you the winners of these tasty awards!

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    Best-in-Show: Alemar Cheese Company's Bent River Camembert

    Find Online & In-Stores

    beehive1Most Innovative Products: Beehive Cheese Company's Earl Grey Cheese

    Find Beehive Cheese Co. Online & In-Stores for a limited time

    salted caramelMost Decadent: Salted Caramel's Bacon Bourbon Caramel Corn

    Find Online & in-Stores

    koval Most Likely to Become a Trend: Koval Distillery's Jasmine Liquer

    Find Koval Distillery In-Stores

    sams2zingermansBest Comfort Food: Sam's Gourmet Lasagna & Zingerman's Cream Cheese

    Find Sam's Gourmet Lasagna at the Chicago French Market
    Find Zingerman's Cream Cheese Online & In-Stores for a limited time

    smoking goose

    Best Booth Display: Smoking Goose Meatery

    Find Online & In-Stores

     

    Thanks to our wonderful judges for lending us their taste-buds for this great event! Amy Scheuerman from Culture Magazine, Brady Lowe from Cochon 555, Ann Flood from Edible Chicago, Sara Hill from Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Bruce Sherman from North Pond, Pascal Bensidoun from the Chicago French Market, Catherine De Orio from Culinarycurator.com, Ari Bendersky from Abe's Market, David Hammond from Chicago Sun Times, and Greg Mosko from North Pond

    Fest Judges

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