I love what I do! That includes exploring North Carolina agricultural fronts in search of delicious way to eat and drink local. Local dairy farms are an important part of our agricultural landscape, so in this post my focus is on one of my favorite ways to eat local dairy. Time to smile and say NC Cheese, please.
Today I share six sensational ways to eat local NC cheese. The “where-to-buy” news is that local cheese is readily available in and around Charlotte. Look at specialty shops with a cheesy bend such as all three locations of Pasta & Provisions and at local Saturday farmers’ markets.
We are fortunate in Charlotte to have three locally-owned cheese shops in and around town: Orrmans at 7th Street Market in Uptown; The Loyalist in Matthews NC and, most recently, Mere’s in the Dilworth Neighborhood. Each of these cheese shops offers a rotating selection of local NC cheeses.
Why you should make NC Cheese a part of your daily diet
Not that we need an excuse to eat and enjoy local cheese. But it is good to know that cheese is a good-for-you local product. Not only is cheese a delicious addition to your daily diet, it is also the second leading food source of dietary calcium in the United States. The first, of course, is milk. Like milk, cheese is a high quality source of protein; and contains many of the essential nutrients our bodies regularly need such as phosphorus and vitamin A.
As local cheese comes from local milk sourced from local and regional dairy farms, eating cheese as a part of your daily diet is a wonderful way to eat healthier and support our local agricultural economy.
What’s in a name?
Just a bit about the lingo before we go any further. People who sell cheese are called cheese mongers.
Dairy farms who produce cheese on site are farmstead cheese producers. Cheese makers using local dairy to produce their cheese, but don’t actually own or raise the cows themselves, are known as artisan cheese makers.
I’ve included both artisan and farmstead cheeses in this round up and have plugged them all into a handy dandy printable map, so you can easily see where your local cheese comes from. As I visit more cheese makers and dairies over the course of time, I’ll update the map with additional details.
Heidi’s NC Cheese Map
Over the past couple of weeks it has been my pleasure to visit many of the North Carolina dairy farms and creameries on this list. For fun, I decided to make a map documenting my cheese tasting adventures. As it happens all of these cheese makers are producing cow’s milk cheeses.
For more places to eat and enjoy local NC cheese, check out the Western North Carolina Cheese Trail and the NC Cheese Trail, which features dairies and creameries in the middle and Eastern part of the state. Both of these organizations have great printable maps, too; and sponsor local NC cheese festivals you’ll want to plan to attend. Be sure to #TellThemHeidiSentYou !
Don’t Miss A Single Bite of the Delicious Details
As is the case with many of my Eat and Drink Local posts, I am thrilled to be sharing the same info with a televised segment, this morning, on WCNC’s Charlotte Today. I’ll be on television the morning of Friday Feb 22 sometime between the 11 and noontime hour to talk about some of the wonderful cheeses the following six dairies and creameries produce.
Tomorrow, I encourage you to come back to these digital pages for a second cheesy helping. I’ll write a follow up post that will include today’s televised video, more cheesy photos and even a recipe or two.
Simply, subscribe to HeidiBillottoFood.com by entering your email address where prompted in the upper right hand column of my home page. You can enjoy all the good eats as they go live, including this weekend’s updated “Smile and Say NC Cheese” post.
Let’s start with local Farmstead Cheese
Chapel Hill Creamery – Chapel Hill NC
Meet my new friend, Charlotte, pictured above. Charlotte is one of the sweet dairy cows from the Chapel Hill Creamery herd.
The Creamery’s aged Calvander and Hickory Grove cheeses; and its soft-ripened Carolina Moon cheese are on many Charlotte restaurant cheese lists. Chapel Hill Creamery is one of the most popular North Carolina dairies in the Triangle.
Chapel Hill Creamery’s Hickory Grove cheese is featured every Thursday at Orrman’s Cheese Shop’s weekly raclette tasting. Nothing beats the taste of warm melted cheese. Check it out soon!
When you are in the Chapel Hill area be sure to shop at area Triangle farmers markets. Look for the Creamery’s you delicious fresh farmhouse cheese. The farm is generally closed to visitors, save for annual farm days and special events. Keep up with all that is happening on the farm via social media and visit them online. Chapel Hill Creamery cheeses are made on site with rich Jersey Cow milk.
The pigs at CHC eat the whey that is left over as a result of the the cheese making process. The heathy “whey heavy” diet, results in a rich and tender cuts of pork. Want to try for yourself? Next time you are in town, order the pork at Chapel Hill’s Lantern Restaurant. You will see what I mean!
Guernsey Girl Creamery in Shelby NC
Guernsey Girl is the smallest of all the creameries I am showcasing today. However, cheese maker and dairy farmer, Ashely Bridges is a 4th generation dairy farmer. Ashley makes Cheddar cheese, cheese curds and soft cow’s milk chevre are made with milk from the Golden Guernsey cows.
Guernsey Girl cheeses are available at the farm store right on the property in Shelby at 3370 Bridges Dairy Road. You can check their facebook page for details. Visit soon, and meet this little lady, one of the sweet calves soon to be part of the herd.
Hidden Gem Alert:
Guernsey Girl cheese curds are regularly available at the Honey Hog restaurant in Fallston, NC. The restaurant is just up the road from the creamery. There these local fresh curds are breaded and fried and served with a side of ranch. Yes, I believe I will !
Looking Glass Creamery in Fairview NC and in Columbus, NC
Big news is the works for this local NC Creamery! The original farm and the very popular cheese shop is located in Fairview Nc just outside of Asheville. Last year, Looking Glass owners Jen and Andy, expanded the operation, purchasing the dairy that provides the milk for their cheeses. This winter they are working on the farm – a bucolic 226 acre property. Just check out the photo above! Looking Glass will continue to operate in their Fairview cheese shop. In the spring and summer of 2019, look for the first of many on-the-farm events at the Columbus NC property. Soon there will be a cheese shop there too!
Looking Glass is probably best known for a cheese called Chocolate Lab. Chocolate Lab is washed rind cheese, lovingly bathed in Highland Brewing Company’s Black Mocha Stout and finished with cocoa nibs from French Broad Chocolate.
Looking Glass also makes several varieties of blue cheese, an new Alpine swiss I’ll showcase here in the next post, and a melt in your mouth dulce-de-leche style caramel sauce called Carmoolita.
Now to the Artisan Cheese Makers in this Eat Local NC Cheese Line Up
Boxcarr Handmade Cheese – Cedar Grove NC
At Boxcarr creamery owners and cheese makers Austin and Samantha Genke were inspired by the cheeses of Italy. And so, they produce incredible semi soft and aged Italian inspired cheeses using Locally sourced North Carolina Jersey and Holstein cow’s milk and often a variety of goat’s milk from neighboring dairies. Their robiola is one of my favorites and is currently available at Mere’s in Charlotte. Many of their other cheeses are available locally at Orrman’s Cheese Shop at 7th Street market. Pictures of lots of the Boxcarr cheeses to come in the follow up post -stay tuned!
Uno Alla Volta Cheese – Charlotte NC
Many of you who have taken my cooking classes and have followed this blog know how much I love Charlotte’s Local cheese maker Zach Gadberry. Chef turned cheesemaker, Zach sells his fresh mozzarella, smoked mozzarella, burrata, ricotta and cottage cheese to many area chefs and restaurants. Locals can also buy directly from Zach at both the Matthews Community Farmers market and the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market every Saturday morning.
I featured one of my favorites, Uno Alla Volta’s Cottage cheese, in this recent Cooking with Local Milk post. The post also includes a video from another wonderful NC Dairy – Lutz Farms.
Ashe County Cheeses from West Jefferson NC
The last cheese in this Eat Local round up is Ashe County cheese. This is the oldest running cheese operation in North Carolina and possibly the biggest. Originally opened in 1930 by the Kraft Corporation, the cheese shop in West Jefferson Nc and the Ashe County cheese making operation are now independently owned. Cheese makers here source local and regional milk. Ashe County is not a farm, but its fun place to go and see the basics. You can go and watch cheese being made and have fun shopping in the Ashe County Cheese story ( which by the way has a massive new candy section).
In Charlotte you can fine Ashe County cheeses at lots of local farm stores and at the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market Thursday – Sunday at the All Natural Farms booth in Building B; and on Saturdays at the Clearview Farms booth in Building A.
As always, I’d like to express my thanks to my friends at The Dairy Alliance, sponsor of this partnered post. The mission of The Dairy Alliance is to educate the public on the value of including dairy products into our daily diet as they promote and protect the interests of the Southeast dairy farm families. I am delighted to help by sharing their story. Visit the Alliance’s website for more delicious dairy-centric recipes and to learn more about all The Dairy Alliance offers.