BEST CHEESE SELECTION - 2005
How many sorts of blue cheese should a cheese counter have to win your admiration? Ten? Oh no, Surdyk's Cheese Shop can do better than that. Twenty? Keep going. Twenty five? Pshaw. How about 30! That's right, a recent visit to Surdyk's revealed more than 30 varieties of blue cheese, and not just your Stiltons, your Gorgonzolas, your Maytag Blues. Oh no. There's a raw milk blue from Massachussets, a buttermilk blue from Wisconsin, the Roaring '40s Blue from Australia, Neal's Yard Cashel Blue from the vaunted British producer, and a million more. Like the Bingham Hill Blue from Fort Collins, Colorado, with its sharp and pointed age, its dry crumble and deep finish. There's Le Papillon Roquefort, all ivory, salt, elegant mineral, and rich luxury (and, in the words of cheese guru Steven Jenkins, the reason God created caves.) There's even resilient, hopeful Shepherd's Way Farm Big Woods Bleu, from right near here in Nerstrand, Minnesota, which, when tasted beside the French Roquefort, seems to tell you something about American energy versus European tradition. What, you ask, how can a cheese be resilient and hopeful? Well, maybe what we're referring to here is the way the clear bright sheep's milk focuses the tang of the blue mold, or maybe we've just been touched by the way Surdyk's cheese shop customers and Surdyk's owners joined forces to present Shepherd's Way with $2,800 to help the farm recover from a horrible fire. Because even though Surdyk's initially won our admiration with the depth of their cheese selection, they've cemented it by showing the depth of their commitment to our local cheese community, and the depth of their hearts.