With most anniversary PR releases and pitches, my eyes pretty much glaze over as the "Happy Birthday to Us" email loads up since oftentimes it's a one-shot dinner/party that's hard to preview OR recap.
So I definitely perked up a little when I was invited to try two new cheeses exclusive to Whole Foods for their 30th Anniversary celebration, since this is something that's going to be readily available for quite a while. And of course, it helps that for their big 3-0 they've collaborated with two of my favorite artisanal California cheesemakers, Cowgirl Creamery and Cypress Grove.
With Cowgirl, a Petaluma-based cheesemaker known for their aged, washed-rind mini-wheels such as Mt. Tam, St. Pat's and Red Hawk, they teamed up to make Buckaroo, a cow's milk cheese (with the milk coming from nearby Straus Family Creamery) aged at least two months with a saline rind wash [by hand!], resulting in a semi-firm cheese that's mildly salty with a nutty cheddar fragrance and a silky-smooth mouthfeel. But what I love most about this cheese is its hard rind, which has a more prominent nutty profile with a little bit of funk, reminiscent of an aged Parmigano-Reggiano or Asiago. This cheese was great for snacking on its own (which is what I did with most of my wedge,) but given its mellow, buttery profile I'd imagine it works wonderfully with sandwiches, melted over a burger or in cheese sauces too.
Their collaboration with Cypress Grove, an Eureka-area cheesemaker known for their goat's milk creations including Purple Haze, Humboldt Fog, Truffle Tremor and (my personal fave of the line) Midnight Moon, is Lil' Ziggy, literally molded in the shape of a miniature flat-top ziggurats. A soft ripened cheese with mixed molds, the slightly-crumbly Lil Ziggy has a good dose of tang and a little tingly bite at the finish. Considerably more assertive in flavor than the Buckaroo, for me this cheese works best alongside some fruit or preserves, or smeared over crackers or warm toast, alongside a crisp, fruit-forward white wine or a hefeweizen.
Of course, Whole Foods have a lot of other products debuting for their 30th too, plus charitable partnerships with some of their longtime vendors (and just held an awesome contest for a culinary weekend at its HQ for 30 lucky winners,) so I'm definitely keeping my eyes peeled. But I'm definitely adding these two cheeses to my rotating repertoire for my next impromptu party platter, or just to snack at home.