Picture this: It’s Thanksgiving, and your parents’ very French friends are in attendance. Their idea of American cheese is a pre-packaged single slice of processed cheese-like food. At best, a block of sharp cheddar from unknown origin. It’s somehow fallen to you to bring a cheese platter that impresses them, and now you don’t know what to do. Your first instinct might be to come chat with our friendly cheesemongers, and you’re not wrong—we’re happy to help you curate a cheese platter that could wow anyone! But you’re in a time crunch, with little space in the day for a tour of our cheese case. Our head cheesemonger and buyer, Emilia D’Albero, has just the fix!
Okay, it’s unlikely that this very specific scenario will happen to you (especially friends from outside your bubble). If you just want to bring something special to the table this year, though, this list of exclusive cheeses is for you, too—and Provisions has some special cheeses you might not find anywhere else in the city. Check out Emilia’s picks below!
The weather is getting colder and the holidays are fast approaching, which means that cheesemongers everywhere are preparing for the arrival of their favorite seasonal cheeses! The holiday season marks the arrival of highly sought-after exclusives that are only available for a few months out of the year. From gooey, woodsy Rush Creek Reserve to brown buttery Brabander Reserve, the Greene Grape Cheese Counter is your one-stop shop for everything you need to build an impressive cheese platter for your holiday gathering. But act quick, because most of these cheeses are only around for a few weeks before they go back into their caves until November 2021!
Bernard's Bergkase (Raw cow, Switzerland)
This cheese is made from raw cow’s milk sourced from only 4 dairies in the area surrounding cheesemaker Bernhard Meier's Hüpfenboden Dairy, a producer of Slow Food Emmentaler. Because the dairy only has Emmentaler molds, Bernard's Bergkase is a hefty 150-pound wheel that has been aged for close to 2 years, giving it an elegant salt balance and crystalline texture with notes of sweet caramel, cured meats, mild green olives and stone fruits. We’re one of only 4 shops east of the Mississippi to get a piece of this wheel, so come and try some before it's gone!
Rush Creek Reserve (Raw cow, Wisconsin)
This absolute delight from the legendary Uplands Cheese in Wisconsin is every cheesemonger's favorite recommendation during the winter months. Made in the style of a classic Vacherin Mont d'Or, Rush Creek Reserve is a luscious, custardy wheel wrapped in spruce bark to give it a slight woodsy flavor that complements the savory and meaty notes of the paste. Rush Creek Reserve is produced only in the fall, when the cows begin to eat dry hay instead of green grass, making their milk higher in fat and therefore creating a thicker and richer cheese! To serve this decadent treat, let it come to room temperature for about 45 minutes, then slice off the top and you can scoop out the creamy interior. Serve alongside roasted vegetables, cured meats, and your favorite pickles!
Also known as Black Betty, Brabander Reserve is Brabander's older, wiser, and cooler sister. World-renowned cheesemaker Betty Koster hand-selects a very limited number of wheels of Brabander and ages them an additional 6 months, creating the black-label version of her goat gouda that is only available from November to January. Brabander Reserve has all the brown-buttery notes and creamy bite of the Brabander we know and love, with additional rich flavors of licorice and pineapple. Each shop is only allowed a certain number of wheels, and when it's gone, it's gone until next year!
Cornish Kern (Pasteurized cow, England)
This black wax-rinded cow's milk cheese is made by Lynher Dairies in England and won the title of Best Cheese in the World in 2017! Based on a Gouda recipe, Cornish Kern (meaning "round" in Cornish) is a crystalline, butterscotchy mouthful, with an almost cotton candy-like flavor. This is a showstopping cheese that is sure to impress!
Jamon Iberico (Pork, Spain)
Made from the indigenous Black Iberian pig, Jamon Iberico is a delicacy that is not to be missed. The pigs' vegetarian diet from pastures and oak groves in southern Spain gives the meat a silky, nutty flavor when the legs are cured to perfection by fourth-generation maestro jamoneros - literally "masters of ham". Serve alongside an aged Manchego!
Culatello (Pork, Italy)
The King of Charcuterie has arrived for the season! While the name means "little ass" in Italian, there's nothing little about the surprisingly sweet and nutty flavor. Traditionally sliced paper-thin, this whole-muscle rarity is gently massaged with white wine and hand-tied before being aged for a minimum of 12 months - truly the royal treatment! The Devodier family was one of the founding members of the Prosciutto di Parma Consortium in 1963, so you can be sure that they know good ham. Eat one of these velvety slices and let the creamy fat melt in your mouth - don't forget to wash it down with some good Lambrusco!