I have found it. Carefully hidden in a local cheese shop. It was packed away in a corner, neglected by pretty much everyone, including myself. Compared to the huge wheels of parmesan reggiano or the bright hues of the blues, this little gem look boring. Just a big, pale, square. Nothing to make it stand out.
Apparently this is one of those special cheeses bought by head chefs to be served at their restaurants on their expensive cheese plates, as the local monger explained. Few “civilians” ever give this particular beauty a second glance.
It is NOT an exotic cheese from some far off country, and it is not one of those celebrity cheeses from Europe that has been granted A.O.C or D.O.P status, guaranteeing taste and quality standards. It is a cheese made in America.
It does not have any flashy gimmicks like featuring truffles, herbs mixtures, or fine particles of gold. It follows standard production techniques and is simply finished with a washed rind.
The milk is from a cow, not from a goat, sheep, buffalo or some almost extinct snow leopard in the Himalayas.
It is…Grayson, a cheese made by Meadow Creek Dairy in Virginia.
Ok. It’s good, it’s not the ONLY cheese you will ever need, and it is not going to replace my go-to-Gruyere; but this humble American-made delicacy is pretty damn tasty. Modeled after a taleggio style of cheese, Grayson is far more powerful. This lesser-known cheese has got some serious funk, but not quite as stinky as Limburger. The taste though is extremely powerful and really hits you in the face. Earthy is one way to describe the taste, but you really need to try it. The flavor really does stand out and hold up to being cooked with a bunch of other foods. I have tried a VERY wide range of cheeses, and I am proud to say that this American made product has got to be one of the strongest dairy products I have ever experienced (and this includes the smell spewing from a fermented horse milk beverage served while I was in Mongolia).
As I have described before, the power of cheese is amazing, so naturally one of the best cheeses out there is going to rock your world in almost any application. So take my advice, be a cheese snob, and get yourself something you won’t find vacuum-sealed in Walmart.