Oh Cheesus! - Ohio's Cheese Renaissance

In recent years, Ohio cheeses have been popping up at an increasing rate at local restaurants, markets and grocery stores. There's a good reason for that, of course: Ohio's cheesemakers are producing some really fantastic offerings.

Brian Moran, owner of Cleveland's Lake Erie Creamery, says Ohio cheese producers are enjoying a renaissance for a number of reasons. "First, the public is increasingly conscious of where their food comes from. Second, and most notable, is the quality and diversity of local cheese that's available." This includes blue cheeses made from cow and sheep milk, blooming-rind cheeses like Brie, Camembert and bucheron, feta, fresh chevre, ricotta, and cream cheese, among others.

Moran says those who are interested in learning more should look to the Ohio Cheese Guild (ohiocheeseguild.org), which formed this January. "It's an organization dedicated not only to those making Ohio cheese, but to dairies, cheese mongers, wholesalers and cheese enthusiasts, too. The guild's primary goal is to connect everyone involved in the Ohio cheese experience."

We selected five Ohio cheeses worth buying and the creameries that produce them (please call ahead for availability of specific cheeses):

Lake Erie Creamery's Croquis: Lake Erie Creamery is a small urban creamery that specializes in handmade goat- and cow-milk cheeses. Their Croquis is a smooth, creamy soft-ripened cheese that possesses a slight tang. Select cheeses are available at Constantino's Markets, Heinen's, Fat Cats and Gypsy Bean and Baking Company. (216-961-9222, lakeeriecreamery.com.)

Mackenzie Creamery's Chevre: Mackenzie Creamery produces award-winning goat cheese with a rich, creamy texture and mild, salty taste. Mackenzie also offers numerous flavored versions that include black truffle, sweet fire (with a blackberry and habanero syrup) and toasted coconut lemon. Select cheeses are available at Murray Hill Market, West Side Market, Bar Cento, Coquette Patisserie and Lucky's Café. (440-226-0772, mackenziecreamery.com.)

Yellow House Cheese's Yellow House Blue: All cheeses at Yellow House are handmade from raw sheep's milk and aged for at least 60 days. An American Cheese Society winner, the Yellow House Blue is a firm blue cheese with a sharp, salty flavor. Select cheeses are available at Medina Farmer's Market, Fire Food & Drink, Flying Fig and Toast. (330-769-9733, yellowhousecheese.com.)

Clover Road's Cream Cheese: Brand new to the Ohio cheese scene, Clover Road Cream Cheese produces specialty cream cheese utilizing fresh, local milk and cream from grass-grazed cows. Flavored varieties include Cinnamon Sugar and Cayenne, Dilly Ranch, and Espresso, Espresso! Available at the Shaker Square North Union Farmers Market. (216-331-2897, cloverroadcreamcheese.com.)

Mayfield Road Creamery's Camembert: Mayfield Road Creamery is a farmstead creamery whose master cheesemaker hand crafts and ages specialty unpasteurized milk cheeses with care. This beautiful Camembert-style cheese features a bloomy rind and a melt-in-your-mouth interior. Select cheeses are available at the Creamery and can be ordered and shipped. (440-437-8754, mayfieldroadcreamery.com.)

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