There’s a cheese scene in Denver?” It’s not an unlikely question.
Only in the past few years has Colorado’s growing network of small farms, dairy operations, and artisanal cheese producers fed a proliferation of specialty cheese shops, boutique purveyors, and farmers’ markets, all of which supply the capital’s burgeoning restaurant scene. The locally grown movement is in full force, and high-end supermarkets such as Whole Foods—which boasts eight branches in the region—offer access to domestic and imported cheeses as never before. Another sign: the American Cheese Society, that venerable king of curds, is headquartered here; and Leprino Foods, originally a cozy, family-owned grocery located in what is known as the Highlands neighborhood, is now the world’s largest producer of mozzarella. Here are our top picks in the Mile High City to feed your need for cheese.
Situated just an hour north of San Francisco, the Napa Valley produces some of the best and most coveted wines in the world.
It is also stunningly beautiful, flanked on both sides by wooded mountains plunging down to a valley floor covered with acres of grapevines in perfectly aligned rows, like carefully raked Japanese Zen gardens. But this is serious agriculture; Napa now produces approximately 10 million cases of wine annually and is home to over 400 wineries spanning the 30-some-mile-long valley, starting in the cooler, southernmost Carneros region and culmi- nating in Calistoga, the small town at the northern end, which lies on top of an active geothermal zone and is known for its natural mineral and mud baths.
As a Napa-based cheesemonger, I spend a lot of time pairing local wines with cheeses—yes, it’s a rough life . . . but someone has to do it. Knowing that most
Cheese and crackers: it's a classic pairing, simple enough for a kitchen snack yet complex enough for gourmet dessert menus. Tony Naylor at the Guardian has compiled his own guide for constructing the perfect cheese plate, rating everything from cheese to grapes to serving temperature.
A restaurant should be purchasing with more discretion. It should be aiming for cheeseboard perfection.
Which is what? Six to eight artisan cheeses, an even mix of hard and semi-hard, with at least one soft and one blue (more than one third blue, given how many people don't like it, is bad planning, if not bad manners). I also like this idea of ensuring variety by serving at least one goat's, ewe's and cow's milk cheese. All British cheeses too, please. This is one area where you can minimise food miles without compromising on quality.