Tomme-boys & Brie Femme-iers: Women in Cheese
You know what they say: Behind every great cheese is a woman who helped make it that way. (Well, they don't say that, but it's true, so we say it.) From owner to maker to monger, women are vital to the industry at every stage of cheese production! Here are some of our favorite cheeses and the women behind them.
Laini Fondiller is one of Vermont’s original artisan cheese pioneers, creating one-of-a-kind goat and cow’s milk cheeses since 1987 on her off-the-grid, solar and wind powered farm. While drawing on her experience making cheese in France, Laini also takes inspiration from her local community and public radio talk shows, creating cheeses that push boundaries and make statements (her latest creation is called "Biden His Time"). Contrary to the farm's name, Laini is one of the hardest-working women in cheese—she is constantly experimenting and reinventing, and as a result, she produces some of the most unique and interesting cheese at any counter. From a sprinkle of dill and basil into the curds to two thin lines of smoky pimenton, you'll understand from your first bite just why Lazy Lady cheese is in such high demand! Because her small-batch cheeses are so unique, you'll find a different one every week in our case or in your cheese box.
Made from pasteurized Saanen goat's milk, Brabander wheels are ripened in caves with slightly higher ambient temperatures to ensure proper aging and, in turn, fuller flavor. The stark white paste boasts sweet flavors of toasty caramel and brown butter, with a pleasant savory underpinning from the goat’s milk. The woman behind this iconic cheese is Betty Koster, the cheese queen of the Netherlands. Betty founded Fromagerie l'Amuse in 1989 and since then has been making and aging some of the worlds best gouda! Betty works exclusively with the sisters of Essex St. Cheese to bring her finest goudas to the US, including the black-rinded rare holiday treat Brabander Reserve.
Marieke Penterman, founder and cheesemaker at Penterman Farm in Wisconsin, is originally from the Netherlands and grew up on a dairy farm. When she moved to the United States in the early 2000s, she and her husband started their own 350-cow dairy farm, which would later become Penterman Farm. Marieke missed the cheese of her homeland so much that she decided to learn how to make gouda in order to bring authentic Dutch cheese to the States! 20 years later, Marieke's cheeses have won many prestigious awards and can be found in shops across the country. This creamy smoked gouda is made from raw milk from her herd of pampered Holstein and Brown Swiss cows, and aged for 2-4 months and gently smoked over hickory.
Parmigiano Reggiano is the king of cheeses, and Catia Zembrelli is the queen of Parmigiano. Not only is Catia the only female head cheesemaker in the entire Parmigiano Reggiano consortium, but Bertinelli is 1 of only 3 (out of 350+) completely farmstead Parmigiano operations in all of Italy, making their cheese truly unique and highly sought-after. This means that the company has control over the entire chain of production, from growing the grass the cows eat to aging and packing the cheese. Nicola Bertinelli, the owner of the family-run facility, is also the current President of the Consortium, so you know this is the Good Stuff. Our wheels of Bertinelli Parmigiano Reggiano are made from raw cow's milk (by Italian law!) and aged for a minimum of 24 months, giving them a sweet, fruity, and nutty flavor with a creamy and crystalline texture that is perfect for grating and even better for snacking.
Taleggio, also known as "Italian Brie" is one of the world's most popular stinky cheeses, and CasArrigoni's production of it is more traditional than any other company. In the interest of supporting local communities and traditions, CasArrigoni sources all of their milk and other materials from within 50 miles of their facility! This version is made of raw cow's milk and aged in pine wood, completely underground, for a minimum of 60 days before it makes its way to our cheese case. Second-generation owner Adele Ravasio has helped lead the company into popularity in Italy and beyond, helping to manage the company and ensure that CasArrigoni honors the cheesemaking tradition of the Valtaleggio in Lombardia.
Want to taste all of these amazing cheeses in a hurry? Try all of these amazing creations together in the Women in Cheese Box, available for same day delivery!