Crafted by the experts at Saxon Homestead Creamery in Cleveland, Wis., Saxony is made from the milk of the Klessig/Heimerl dairy farm, where cows graze near the shores of Lake Michigan in the summer. The Klessig/Heimerl family first started making cheese in 2005, when they converted an abandoned beer warehouse into a state-of-the-art cheese factory. They've been making top-notch cheese every since.
While I've enjoyed their first two cheeses, Green Fields and Big Ed's, I have absolutely no qualms in announcing that I am a HUGE fan of Saxony. Cheesemaker Neville McNaughton was kind enough to give me a quarter wheel two weeks ago to taste, and I served it in three different venues, with three sets of very different people, and got the same result every time.
The first was at the holiday party for the Dairy Business Innovation Center, a non-profit where I do communications work. All 20 consultants agreed it was the best Saxon cheese so far, and to get 20 dairy consultants to agree on ANYTHING is an achievement in itself.
The second venue was for 12 women friends who are all foodies and who have come to expect good cheese when they visit my house. Saxony was the hit of the evening - every one of them kept asking where they could buy it. Saxony is just now starting to hit the retail market, so if your favorite cheesemonger doesn't yet carry it, ask them to order it.
The third venue was for 21 high school juniors and seniors, all of whom when asked about their favorite cheese, either said cheddar or muenster. After tasting a series of several different Wisconsin artisan cheeses, all proclaimed Saxony to be their favorite. One 18-year-old even pronounced it would be worth paying $20 a pound for. How's that for an endorsement?
The thing I like about Saxony is that it's a crowd pleaser. It's sophisticated enough to satisfy the cheese critic, yet subtle enough to win over the artisan cheese novice. It's also absolutely beautiful. If you get the chance, try and buy at least a quarter wheel - that way you'll enjoy the wine-colored rind and raised leaf pattern on the edges. Put it on a wooden cheese board for your holiday table centerpiece and then eat it during the meal. Voila -- your table is complete. Happy holidays!