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In honor of International Women’s Day (March 8), we’re celebrating women and their contributions to the world of cheese.

Our cheeses this week come from two of America’s best creameries – both founded by women. Mackenzie Creamery (Ohio) and Cypress Grove (California) are the result of the work of two inventive and creative women: Jean Mackenzie and Mary Keehn. And our product of the week comes from a company founded by an English woman, Ann-Marie Dyas.

Thank you, ladies!

Sour Cherry Bourbon Chevre - Tastings Gourmet Market
courtesy Mackenzie Creamery

Sour Cherry Bourbon Chèvre

Jean Mackenzie entered cheesemaking almost on a fluke. She attended a cheesemaking course while on vacation, and five months later Mackenzie Creamery was born. At 61, she had finally found her true calling!

She is a true innovator and is constantly experimenting with new flavors, and we’re pleased to treat you to one of them this week. You can read more about Jean here.

Known for its outstanding goat cheese, Mackenzie Creamery uses traditional methods to create its award-winning Chèvre. Its all-natural, handcrafted artisan cheese is made from hormone-free goat milk from local farms. You won’t find a smoother or fresher Chèvre anywhere!

What would make it even better? How about some sassy sour cherries combined with a hint of Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey? The cheese comes in a 4.5 oz. cup with the cherry Bourbon sauce on top. To enjoy this amazing combination of Chèvre with cherry sauce, let it come to room temperature and simply turn the cup upside down on your cheese plate. Dig in with pieces of crusty baguette or crackers.

Origin: Hiram, Ohio
Producer: Mackenzie Creamery
Milk: Pasteurized goat
Rennet type: Vegetarian
Rind: None
Age: Fresh
Look: White cheese in a cup with cherry jam at the bottom
Feel: Soft, creamy
Smell: Sweet and tangy
Taste: Creamy, sour cherry with a tang of Bourbon. Can you say Manhattan?
Tastes good with: Crackers
Drink with: Red wine

Purple Haze - Tastings Gourmet MarketPurple Haze

Mary Keehn’s contribution to cheese began with her role as a mother who wanted her children to have goat’s milk. In the 1970’s, goat’s milk was not commercially available and so Mary began raising and milking her own goats. Before long, that grew into her experimenting with cheesemaking.

Fast forward to 2020, and now Cypress Grove is the leading U.S. maker of artisanal goat’s milk cheeses. From self-proclaimed hippie to successful entrepreneur, Mary Keehn helped found the modern American artisanal cheese movement.

Mary is clearly a woman with a sense of humor: all the cheeses have funny and creative names: Lambchopper (with its label of a goat riding a Harley), Humboldt Fog (with its sly nod toward the most famous crop in Humboldt County, CA), and others named after songs (Sgt. Pepper, Little Red Corvette, Purple Haze).

Purple Haze is in my brain — and on my cheeseboard — this week. It gets its name from the Jimi Hendrix classic and from the lavender in the cheese. The flakes of tender, purple lavender buds and fennel pollens create an addictive mix atop the soft, creamy cheese: you’ll be glad you bought two!

And, should you be so lucky as to have some left over, you’ll find that Purple Haze lends itself to recipes. Here are few to try: whipped into a tangy cheesecake, melted into a gooey sandwich, or turned into icing for cupcakes.

Origin: Humboldt County, California
Producer: Cypress Grove
Milk: Pasteurized goat
Rennet type: Vegetarian
Rind: None
Age: Fresh
Look: 3-oz. disk covered with lavender and fennel pollens
Feel: Soft
Smell: Aromatic, herbaceous
Taste: Floral, piquant, sweet
Tastes good with: Crackers, figs
Drink with: Zinfandel, un-oaked Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling

Midnight Moon - Email
courtesy Cypress Grove

Midnight Moon

If you hate goat cheese, you’ve probably never tried Midnight Moon. Midnight Moon does not have the tart, tangy flavor people associate with goat cheese. Instead, it is unbelievably delicious with a nutty and brown butter flavor and an intense caramel finish.

Made from goat’s milk in Holland and then shipped to the U.S. for additional aging, Midnight Moon is the result of Dutch expertise in Gouda making and Cypress Grove’s insistence on using only the finest goat’s milk. This is a Gouda-style cheese with a smooth, dense texture, studded with protein crystals, which give it a slight crunch.

Not only is Midnight Moon popular among consumers, the critics love it, too. It won the best new product award from the Specialty Food Association in 2002, and has gone on to win the Super Gold in the 2015 and 2018 World Cheese Awards.

Excellent for parties, it looks striking on a cheeseboard with its black wax contrasting with the beautiful ivory-colored cheese.

Origin: Netherlands and US (Humboldt County, CA)
Producer: Cypress Grove
Milk: Pasteurized goat
Rennet type: Vegetarian
Rind: Natural
Age: 6 months +
Look: Ivory, cloaked in black wax
Feel: Dense, smooth
Smell: Nutty, sweet, milky
Taste: Nutty, brown buttery, caramelly
Tastes good with: Fig jam, seeded crackers. Try it in a sandwich or add some to your mac and cheese to take it to the next level.
Drink with: Belgian Tripel, Sherry, Rhone reds, Zinfandel, Ice Wine

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