Cheese Club Picks: July 2023

Cheese Club Picks: July 2023

In July of 2023, Antonelli's Cheese has dedicated our monthly Club box to one of our favorite Texas cheesemakers! And with credentials like hers, we know that Susan Rigg at River Whey Creamery is a favorite of tons of people!  We send out a uniquely themed box each month, relating to terroir, cheese history, and celebrations of cheesemakers or producers - become a member before the final day of the current month to get the next month's box at your very own door.

Click Here to Learn More or Join Today!  Read on to learn about the cheeses and producer our Club Members will enjoy this month!

From cheesemongers behind the Antonelli’s Cheese Shop counter, to many of the cheesemakers they represent, most folks working in cheese have had a moment where it all became clear: “I didn’t ‘choose’ cheese. Cheese chose me!” And River Whey Creamery’s Susan Rigg – a bookseller for over 15 years before the cheesemaking bug took hold – is no exception. As stars began to align for Susan, she followed her intuition and enrolled in the Culinary Arts Institute of America. Simply trusting in the journey led her to true love: making cheese! Deepening her knowledge and skill, Susan went on to study her newfound craft from the shores of California to the verdant fields of Vermont, and over the pond to England and Wales. But what really sets Schertz, Texas’ River Whey Creamery apart is the inspiration behind the cheeses: taking prompts from remarkable cheesemaking techniques collected across the world, Susan spins a unique Texas flair into every wheel she touches. Rooted in River Whey’s intention to create iconic cheeses that stand on their own merits, Susan believes Texas’ terroir makes her cheeses distinctive, explaining “great Texas dirt makes great Texas grass which makes great Texas milk.” Well, we could not agree more. Hop onboard, as we visit what’s tasting good today from River Whey! 

1. Garden Crisp (Cow, fresh)

Garden Crisp, Susan’s refreshing and balanced summer selection, starts out with a base of ‘fromage blanc’ cheese. Meaning ‘white cheese,’ it is the famously French and Southern Belgian creamy, soft cheese made from milk and cream. To be clear: fromage blanc is to cow's milk as fresh chèvre is to goat's milk. Unaged and young, its consistency can resemble something akin to Greek yogurt, but perhaps with a fluffier chèvre-like delivery. Not only has Susan perfected this delicate textural balance, she has chosen a brilliantly curious pair of accoutrements to really set it off: fresh organic arugula and celery seed sea salt from Anglesey, Wales (harvested by Halen Mon PDO Sea Salts).

Pairings: A true, ready-to-go ‘pairing in a package,’ Garden Crisp can give morning (or afternoon tea-break) vibes. Awaken your palate with a cup of citric, verbena (or even Earl Grey) tea, and observe the enchanted interplay of flavors. And look – we know this sounds wild, but trust & try – nibbles of Askinosie Chocolate’s Itty Bitty Bar, a single-origin firebomb of rich cocoa decadence. It just works!

2. Caldera Espana (Cow, semi-soft)

‘España, through a Texan lens.’ It’s a lofty ambition that might strike a bit of trepidation in an observant cheese-taster. Can it be done, and done well? Susan obliterates any doubt with Caldera España, taking her inspiration from cheeses of the high plains of Spain, and succinctly translating age-old Spanish techniques through local south Texas raw Jersey cow's milk. Three months is the sweet-spot for aging, actualizing a texture that retains moisture within gentle curdiness. For the touch of terroir that is even more native to south Texas, Pecan wood is used to smoke Caldera Espana, instilling deeply complex & hypnotic flavor sensations. You’ll swear you’re eating bacon-cheese!

Pairings: For sure-fire bets, coat a round of nachos in Caldera crumbles – and also, do not miss pairing with Round Rock Jelly & Co.’s Pineapple Habanero Jam – the perfect mix of sweet pineapple brightness and manageably moderate habanero heat from fresh peppers. Offset any high temps with pours of Babylonstoren Mourvedre Rosé, an elegant dry wine with a sophisticated coral-blush hue, revealing compelling hints of raspberry and rose petal.

3. Indigo Ridge (Cow, firm)

When Susan starts describing Indigo Ridge as “Gouda style with Gruyere flair!” – our always-polite exterior morphs into childishly hyperactive anticipation: ‘What did she just say?! And when can we taste it?!!’ Known as an Alpine-Hybrid, Indigo Ridge is celebrated as a true American – and Texan – original. Named for its vibrantly indigo-colored wax rind, it was officially accepted into the American Cheese Society's "American Original" category for judging in 2019! As Indigo Ridge ages for a full eight months, the texture becomes pliable and creamy on the palate as flavors fruity and tangy crest, yielding to a long finish that reveals notes of scalded milk and hazelnuts.

Pairings: Bring out subtle sweetness inherent to gouda-styles by placing atop an Effie’s Oatcake (a crumbly, American-style shortbread), and refresh with your favorite seltzer. Indigo Ridge also presents an unmistakable opportunity for sweet synchronicity with a brilliant, lighter medium-bodied red – we strongly suggest Red Thumb Tempranillo, a younger take than the bolder siblings of the grape, which presents berry & spice notes followed by a smoky-velvet linger.

4. Keystone (Cow, firm)

The bedrock of River Whey Creamery’s collection of cheeses, Keystone, is a strong northern Italian-style cheese, rubbed with Texas olive oil during its time aging in the “cave” (Susan ages her cheeses in a man-made cave, specifically designed with temperature and humidity regulated chambers). Traditional to many Italian cheeses, rubbing rinds with olive oil helps lock-in moisture & flavor with a rustically relaxed approach – but insisting on native olive oil, sopping in Texas terroir, is where River Whey elevates Keystone to supreme heights. Tomme-style in shape, Keystone develops an ambient natural (edible!) rind that gives way to a golden champagne-colored paste. The palate experiences sweet, piquant notes and an intensely extended finish.

Pairings: Keystone is one of those resplendent cheeses that is every bit as impactful in a recipe as it is on a cheeseboard, and you can find the keys to unlock such joys as Keystone Carbonara Fettuccine & Keystone Apple Cajeta Puff-Tarts (yes, please!) at River Whey’s website. For an initial handshake, combine with hearty slices of Visca Tuscan salami (and keep the Red Thumb Tempranillo flowing!).

Each month, Standard Members receive 4-5 wedges each month, while our Deluxe Members get specialty pairings too! Our Cheese Club is available for local pickup or delivery and national shipping. Don't miss out on next month's box!

Checkout our Cheese Club information page to learn more about memberships or watch our tasting videos we make for each box to get a better visual!

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