Today is cheesemaker Veronica Pedraza's birthday and I think we should celebrate with beauty shots of her fabulous cheeses.
For those of you not in the know, Veronica is the lead cheesemaker at Meadowood Farms in New York. She is also a former monger, spectacular fellow member of the American Cheese Society Education Committee, and is an honorary Wisconsinite, as she attended Beloit College and has been overheard appreciating how just gosh darn nice we are here in the Midwest.
When you find her cheeses at retail, buy them immediately. Each is made lovingly in small batches and is exquisite. Here are three of my favorites:
Ledyard: Veronica was inspired by Robiola and St Marcelin when she created this beauty. A soft-ripened sheep's milk cheese, it is wrapped in grape leaves soaked in Deep Purple, a wheat beer made with Madison County concord grapes.
Strawbridge: in Wisconsin, we have a dearth of non-stabilized soft-ripened cheeses, so this bloomy-rind sheep's milk cheese especially speaks to me. When it's young, it's easy to eat and agreeable to all, but as it ripens, it develops the bold mushroomy flavors of a real Camembert. Similar to a triple crème, it is decadent and buttery.
Juvindale: this is about as close as you're going to get to Reblochon without paying the European airfare to eat the original. Made with cow's milk, the rind is thin and pillowy, with a buttery, tangy paste with just the right amount of barny pungency.
Happy birthday, Veronica! You have a fan club in Wisconsin. Your cheese makes us happy.
Photos by my fabulous husband, Uriah Carpenter.