Cheese Travel Guide: USA Edition

Discover the best cheese in the USA!

This article goes out to all of our American friends, or others heading to the United States! Get your stretchy pants ready, because we’re going to be talking cheese. Okay, so maybe you don’t need those stretchy pants yet…but get them out of your closets because you’re going to want to get out there and do some tasting once I’m done with you.  

Most people know that France is renowned for its cheeses. There are approximately 1,600 different varieties to choose from, and 47% of French people eat cheese daily. We may not be French, but we are definitely part of the group of people that eat cheese every single day! And we wouldn’t change it for the world. 

If you don’t have the time or budget to cross the Atlantic and visit us in Paris, that’s okay. I do think you should invest in a trip abroad at one point in your life, but if it’s not in the cards for you at this very instant, I get it! That’s where my cheese travel guide: USA edition comes in!

 

The nitty gritty on America cheese

Cheese. Image by Jean Beaufort – Needpix

Before I get into specific locations with amazing cheese, I want to talk a little bit about the basics that you need to know. 

When I was doing research for this article, I stumbled upon a little thing called the American Cheese Society. I thought to myself, “Say what?! That sounds like a society I need to be a part of.” While I didn’t join the society, as I don’t live in the United States, I found a TON of valuable information on their site that I’d like to share with all of you!

According to their website, the American Cheese Society is “the leading organization supporting the understanding, appreciation, and promotion of artisan, farmstead, and specialty cheeses produced in the Americas.”

They also say that in the States, cheese is “defined in the Code of Federal Regulations as:

The fresh or matured product obtained by draining after coagulation of milk, cream, skimmed, or partly skimmed milk, or a combination of some or all of these products, and including any cheese that conforms to the requirements of the Food and Drug Administration for cheeses and related cheese products.” A little wordy, I know. But, someone needed to define what cheese officially is, and the Code of Federal Regulations did it!

You can find cheese in various locations around the United States, but today I’m going to be focusing on Vermont, New York, Wisconsin, California and Washington. Keep reading, and keep your map handy…because you’re going to want to go on a cheese-inspired road trip once I’m through! 

Vermont

Hot Cheddar cheese from Cabot. Image by Bryce Spivey on Flickr

I’m originally from the East Coast, so I’m going to be starting here. Vermont is known around the United States for their excellent cheese production. And rightfully so! Vermont cheese is my favorite 🙂 And, the state boasts the highest per-capita cheesemakers in the country.

You probably recognize the most famous, Cabot. Cabot now has a co-op called Cabot Creamery Coop, which is made up of several farmers and their dairy farms. The co-op boasts 24 different types of cheese, but only a handful are available in supermarkets, so head to the Cabot Cheese Visitors Center in Cabot, Vermont to try out the other flavors. I did this a few years back (told you I love Vermont Cheese!) and I had a great time.

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You can also head to Shelburne Farms, a nonprofit farm made up of 120 Jersey cows. Here, you can go on their 2 hour tour called the Sun to Cheese Tour. You’ll taste and learn about 6 different types of cheddar, including an American Cheese Society’s (our old friends!) award winning 6 month aged option. 

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Jasper Hill Farm is also located in Vermont, and is owned by a pair of brothers named Mateo and Andy Kehler. They make several different types of cheese, but their most famous is probably their Bayley Hazen Blue, which is also one of the most famous blue cheeses in America.  

New York

Alleva Cheese. Image by Marcela on Flickr

One of the oldest cheese shops in America is located in New York City, and is called Alleva Cheese. You’ll find it in New York’s Little Italy, and they make their cheese themselves, on site. Head here for ricotta and mozzarella which will melt in your mouth, it’s that good! Fun fact: it is co-owned by Tony Danza.

Don’t miss Murray’s in Greenwich Village, founded in 1940, which has also made a name for itself. They offer tours, tastings and classes, including a whiskey pairing class option! I really want to try this out the next time I’m in the city. 

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Much farther north, in Chatham, you’ll find the Old Chatham Creamery. I like to think of this creamery as the “sheep city” of New York, as their farm houses thousands of sheep which produce the milk used in their products: Kinderhook Creek, Ewe’s Blue, and Nancy’s Hudson Valley Camembert, are just a few.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin Cheese. Image by infowidget on Flickr

Perhaps even more famous for its cheese than Vermont, enter: Wisconsin. Home of the giant cheese hats, you know that Wisconsinites are serious about their fromage. Wisconsin produces a quarter of all American cheeses. 

Before you taste anything, you can visit the National Historic Cheesemaking Center in Monroe. Here, you can visit the Restored Imobersteg Farmstead Cheese Factory, or hop on a bus tour to explore the city on Monroe. Try to go in summer, as every second Saturday of June a 90 pound wheel of Swiss cheese, just how it was done more than a century ago.

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A #Limburger sandwich in honor of #cheesedays2016!

A post shared by Wisconsin Foodie (@wisconsinfoodie) on

The oldest cheese shop in Wisconsin, Baumgartner’s is also in Monroe! The shop has a tavern next door which has been serving up their signature sandwich since 1931, which features a very stinky Limburger cheese on rye bread with onions and horseradish mustard. You’ll want to make sure to bring a breath mint for after 😉

Uplands Cheese Company is located in southwest Wisconsin. Uplands produces a cheese called the Pleasant Ridge Reserve, which has won both the U.S. Cheese Championship and the American Cheese Society’s top prize (told you the ACS really knew what they were talking about!).

California

Image courtesy of Cowgirl Creamery’s Facebook page.

Who would have thought that California was known for their cheeses?! Well, now you know, and you’re definitely going to want to add the West Coast to your cheese travel agenda!

In Point Reyes, you’ll find 2 amazing creameries. Cowgirl Creamery is located in a former hay barn that founders Sue Conely and Peggy Smith restored. They produce a dozen different types of cheese, and all of them are award winning! Don’t miss their cottage cheese and Mt. Tam options. 

Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company is a family business that has been running out of their farm in Point Reyes since 1959. Here, you can go on tours of the farm, participate in cheese tasting classes, or book their cheese concierge service!

You’ll find my next creamery in Northern California. Cypress Grove Chèvre focuses on, you guessed it, cheeses made from goat’s cheese! Their most famous option is called Humboldt Fog, and is so creamy it will melt in your mouth. They also have a “pepper remix” version of this superstar, which I am dying to try.

Washington

Image courtesy of Beecher’s Handmade Cheese’s Facebook page.

Last but not least on my cheese journey through USA is Washington. If you’ve ever been to Seattle, you’ve probably heard of Pike Place Market. That’s where you’ll find Beecher’s Handmade Cheese. Their cheese is made on site, and you’ll be able to sneak a peek at the process if you decide to visit the shop. 

In Bow, visit Samish Bay Cheese. All of their cheeses are made from milk from the cows on their personal diary farm, and their thoughtfulness really shows. Or should I say, tastes?! Head to their retail location, which is open daily, and you can taste their offerings, which they pair with beer, cider or wine. 

If you’re ever in Leavenworth, and are interested in American and imported cheeses, head to The Cheesemonger’s Shop! The shop offers nearly 100 different cheeses to choose from. Yes, I said 100! You’ll also find a variety of meats, wines and beers. Apéro, anyone?

Conclusion

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about all of the best cheeses in the USA. I haven’t even scratched the surface, as there are plenty more options to discover, but it’s a start!

This has been a bit of a diversion from our regular programmed Paris articles, but I thought to myself, “if our American clients like French cheese, they’re going to need something to hold them over at home!” So, there you have it.

If you want to learn more about French cheeses, I wrote a blog about a few options here. You can also taste French cheeses with us on our Tickle Your Tastebuds and Eat Like a Parisian food tours! As a special thank you for reading this article, we’re offering 5 euros off any of our tours with the discount code CHEESE. If that’s not incentive to book, what is?! Click here to learn more about all of our options 🙂

Thanks for reading! Share your favorite American cheeses below!

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