Hear ye! Hear ye! The newest batch of Hook’s 15-year-old super-aged cheddar has made its way to the Twin Cities.
Overall, Hook’s 15-year-old cheddar has a balanced, intensely cheddar flavor. Like so many aged cheeses that I enjoy, the lactic acid has crystallized in the Hook’s 15-year-old cheddar forming a few crunchy bits of calcium lactate, the crystals ranging in color from darkish yellow to almost white.
While some aged cheddars take on an extremely bitter quality, most likely brought on by the temperature being raised during the aging process, the marginal bitterness of the Hook's 15-year is balanced with sourness and saltiness expected in cheddar cheese. It’s slightly crumbly, and best at room temperature. Savor the delectable cheddar chunks on their own, or perhaps with a few slices of apple.
If it sounds like the Hooks are cheese wizards, they very well might be. Nearly 40 years ago, Tony and Julie Hook started making cheese together. Julie Hook remains the only woman to win the World Championship Cheese Contest for her Colby cheese in 1982, and more recently the Hooks won a Silver Medal for their Gorgonzola at the 2010 World Championship Cheese Contest.
This year, Hook’s began selling their 15-year cheddar at their cheese factory in Mineral Point on Friday, November 4, and shipped it out to shops around Minnesota shortly thereafter. It’s currently available at France 44, Surdyk’s, and Lunds & Byerly’s while supplies last. Obviously prices vary, but you can expect to see it selling for about $60-$70/lb. At that price, I budget for it, forsaking other indulgences, and it’s always worth it.
[where: cheese, St. Paul, Minneapolis, Twin Cities, Minnesota]