Todd Utter knows his coagulated milk protein — that’s cheese to the laymen out there. After two decades of sampling and selling cheeses, he has spent the past seven years as deli manager and cheese guru for Heinen’s in Rocky River. He’s always sampling new cheeses to add to the store’s ever-changing list of roughly 250 artesian offerings. We asked him for four cheeses exclusive to Heinen’s (this year’s Silver Spoon winner for best cheese selection) to check out when you’re in his neighborhood.
1) Cahill’s Porter Cheese | This is cheddar cheese with a drinking problem. Guinness is repeatedly added as the cheese hardens, giving this sharp cheddar a chunky texture.“ I would pair it with a soft cheese like a Brie or an aged Gouda,” Utter says.
2) Oud Brugge | This smooth, light yellow cheese is aged for 18 months, several months longer than the average Gouda, so it’s not nearly as moist. “As it ages, the fullness of the flavor is a little more pronounced,” Utter says. “When it comes to all the aged Goudas, this has a better balance to me.”
3) Carr Valley Wildflower Cheddar | Somewhere in Wisconsin, a small herd of cattle are grazing on wildflowers. By fall, the milk they produce will have aged into the mild Carr Valley Wildflower cheddar. “[Carr Valley] sticks to one particular group of cattle,” Utter says. “[It has] its own distinct flavor. This cheddar is great paired with Fuji or Braeburn apples.”
4) Valdeon | This Spanish blue cheese comes covered in Sycamore leaves. “Just like a leaf you would leave out in the yard that turns that brownish color, it absorbs that color into the cheese,” says Utter. It’s also the reason Valdeon has a deeper, earthier flavor, unlike traditional, saltier blues. “It’s more on the creamy side,” he says. “It would be great served with a red wine like a Cabernet.”