Nearly three decades after Judy Schad’s Capriole goat cheese put Indiana on the fancy-fromage map, a host of Hoosier dairies are producing some elegant handcrafted varieties garnering attention beyond our borders. From aged Alpine classics to ripe, complex chevres, here are our top picks for dressing up your next cheese course.
This fresh, un-aged goat cheese—an Americanized chevre that’s one of the company’s original products— is hand-ladled into its mold and wrapped in chestnut leaves soaked in Woodford Reserve bourbon. The result is a creamy, dense texture and a crisp flavor that intensifies with age. capriolegoatcheese.com
Swissland Cheese Company Goat’s-Milk Mozzarella
Longtime dairyman Kirk Johnson produces a host of grass-fed and raw-milk choices at Berne’s Swissland Cheese Company, including this smooth, mild mozzarella made with goat’s milk. Almost spreadable when soft, it complements nuts or seeded crackers and excels as a pizza-topper. swisslandcheese.com
Fair Oaks Farms Aged Gouda
Hardly the flavorless, plasticky Gouda typically sold in red wax, this grownup version of the Dutch classic is aged for at least 18 months for a butterscotch richness and slightly grainy bite that is good savored on its own or grated in pastas or crumbled over salads. Excellent with apples or thin slices of salty ham. fofarms.com
Ludwig Farmstead Creamery Jake’s Wheel Habanero
Bright-orange flecks of habanero pepper lend a sweet, slow burn to this otherwise mild raw-milk version of Havarti, designed at a Fithian, Illinois, creamery under the tutelage of local cheese legend Fons Smits. Jake’s Wheel is best paired with a crisp blond beer or shredded for use in a kicked-up, luxe version of macaroni and cheese. ludwigfarmsteadcreamery.com
Jacobs and Brichford Briana
Bold and buttery, with a finish some say tingles on the tongue, this one-of-a-kind, smear-ripened cheese from Leslie Jacobs and Matthew Brichford’s Connersville creamery stands up to a dark beer or a tannin-heavy red wine. Aged for three months, the Briana offers the nutty, grassy overtone of a Gruyere but melts like a good Swiss or raclette—a true party-pleaser. jandbcheese.com
Tulip Tree Creamery Larkspur Blue
Having consulted at such illustrious cheesemakers as California’s Cowgirl Creamery and Indiana’s own Traders Point Creamery, Fons Smits has returned to Zionsville to open his own place, whose name pays homage to his native Netherlands as well as Indiana’s state tree. Alongside mold-ripened and washed-rind cheeses, Smits turns out this lusciously approachable, less moldy blue from non-homogenized cream—as welcome out of hand as it is swirled into cream sauces. tuliptreecreamery.com
Traders Point Creamery Farmstead Feta
Velvety and less salty than typical Mediterranean feta, this cow’s-milk version now sold in wedges adds enough bite to top your Greek salad while being mild enough to pair with berries and honey. Marinate it in olive oil and herbs—or crumble it into Traders Point’s plain yogurt and add dill to make a bracing dressing for salads. traderspointcreamery.com
This article appeared in the June 2014 issue.