A&Eats: holiday sample day at co-op

On the Saturday before Thanksgiving, Northfield’s Just Food Co-op hosted the Holiday Entertaining Sample Day. Though advertised on Facebook as a meat and cheese sampler, I spotted no meat at this event (but there was maple syrup?). Despite this initial letdown, I was pleased by the variety of cheeses nonetheless.

Cannon Belles cheese:

Many of the cheeses featured were from local creameries. I first stopped at the Cannon Belles table, a cheese company based in Cannon Falls, Minn. They were offering a gouda, cheddar and curds. Although all the cheeses were good, they also all tasted the same. I couldn’t distinguish the gouda from the cheddar, and I could distinguish the curds only because they were oddly shaped. If I needed to stock up on a basic cheddar and also wanted to support a local business, I’d pick up some Cannon Belles cheese if it was on sale. But if I’m looking to impress my guests at a holiday party, I’d look elsewhere.

Cannon Belles rating: 4/10.

Caves of Faribault cheese:

My next stop was at the Caves of Faribault table (note: this is definitely a cheese company, not a landmark.) Their cheese is aged in sandstone caves located in Faribault, which was also home to the first American blue cheese. These cheeses were delicious and flavorful. I abstained from the blue, because it’s objectively gross, but Jeffs’ Select Gouda was fantastic, as was the Fini Cheddar. I would 10/10 serve this to guests I liked, and I would also impress them with my knowledge of local caves and the history of cave-aged blue cheese. In terms of quality and taste, this range was outstanding and would please even the most picky cheese eater. But if I’m looking to wow my guests with presentation and flair, consider the next cheese I tried.

Caves of Faribault rating: 9/10.

The Snowdonia Cheese Company:

The last cheese I sampled hailed not from Minnesota, but from North Wales. The Snowdonia Cheese Company had a very unique range of truckles – wax encased cheddars – with interesting fillings. They were showcasing their seasonal cheeses at the co-op, all of which were very good, and also spreadable, making them ideal for a cheese and cracker platter. Their Green Thunder, encased in emerald wax, was perfectly seasoned with garlic and herbs. I also tried the Bouncing Berry, which had cranberries in it. Though not my personal favorite, it would be appropriate for a holiday party. Both cheeses were creamy and the cheddar was aged to perfection. Visually, these would be beautiful on a well-curated cheese platter, and all of your friends would be super impressed. I would definitely pick up a truckle if you find yourself in need of some cheese.

Snowdonia Cheese Company rating: 8/10.

Overall, this was a great event hosted by the co-op. Definitely make sure to grab some cheese along with your ham and potatoes this season.