The Grate Outdoors | August 2020 curdbox

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It’s August, when we’re all trying to squeeze out the last drops of summer fun from what has been an atypical season. For this month’s box, we wanted cheeses that wouldn’t be fussy, that could stand up to the dog day temperatures and just easily travel to the back patio for burgers as they could to the summit of a daylong hike. So what could be better than that Swiss army tool of cheeses: cheddar.

We believe that in order to understand and appreciate a cheddar, you should taste several cheddars side-by-side—just like in a wine tasting! Because cheddar isn’t just cheddar, it’s a whole world unto itself. And this month, we're dipping a toe (or three) into that world with of trio of distinctly different but definitely delectable cheddars. To play along, we have a snacking power pack of nuts, chips, and jerky, it’s all you need to fuel up for an adventure in The Grate Outdoors. 

The Grate Outdoors curdbox

Big John’s Cajun from Beehive Cheese
When you don’t want to keep your love of cajun and your love of cheddar apart, you reach for Big John’s Cajun. With this award-winning cheese, Beehive Cheese in Utah takes starts with Jersey cow’s milk, cheddars it, and then rubs it with magic pixie dust a.k.a. a Cajun mix made up of garlic, celery, and cayenne. (We’ve actually seen this trick from Beehive before, their Barely Buzzed from the March box is the same cheddar with a different rub.) This is the youngest cheddar of the group, so you’ll notice that it’s a little softer and more flexible than the others, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in flavor: the Cajun rub imbues the cheese with savory notes, which mingle delightfully with the creaminess of the paste. Oh, and the name? It’s named after Chef John Dearman, one of Beehive’s first customers (who was also tall), and his Louisiana rib rub recipe. The rind has a kick, but if you’re spice-shy, then just cut it off, there’s no need to suffer—Big John wouldn’t have wanted that.

Big John's Cajun by Beehive Cheese with Pizootz Flavor-Infused New York Dill Almonds

Cave Aged Cheddar from Cabot and aged by Jasper Hill
If you’ve been with us for a while (or even since June), or if you spend any time near your local cheese case, you’ll recognize Jasper Hills as one of the major players in American artisanal cheese. While they do make their own cheeses, they also age cheeses from other producers in their Cellars, and this month’s Cave Aged cheddar is one such example. It's a block cheddar made by Cabot Creamery (one of the oldest family farm cooperatives in New England), but then, due to its promising potential, was personally plucked from its peers by Jasper Hill to be aged in their Cellars. Once at Jasper Hill, the cheese is rubbed with lard, which helps cultivate the living natural rind and thus developing complexity in the cheese. After a year under the expert care of Jasper Hill, this cheese is ready for the market with a bright flavor with an undercurrent of deep, umami and caramel notes.

Cave Aged Cheddar made by Cabot and aged by Jasper Hill with Fowl Capone Turkey Jerky by Righteous Felon

Vat 17 World Cheddar by Deer Creek Cheese

Our last cheese from Deer Creek is a real showstopper. It’s among one of the only Grade AA cheddars on the market, and has won the top prize in both national and international cheese awards. This cheese came about as a result of an experiment, where cultures some of the best cheddars around the world were mixed in order to find the ideal makeup with the best characteristics of its cheddar forefathers. After two years, it was concluded that the seventeenth vat was the best, and thus Vat 17 World Cheddar was born. It’s a bold cheese with tangy nuttiness, and crunchy tyrosine crystals studded throughout. It also is a crumbly cheese (which is to be expected for a 2+ year-old cheese), perfect for “nuggeting” (in the cheese biz, that's what we call breaking something into little bite size bits, shown below).

Vat 17 World Cheddar by Deer Creek Cheese and Pimento Cheese Kettle Chips by Lillie's Q

Deer Creek was founded by Chris Gentine of Deer Creek, a master cheese grader who works with cheesemakers and affineurs (cheese agers) to develop a line of highly lauded cheeses. “The Deer Creek Vat 17 is a really unique cheese,” Gentine said “It’s got a cocktail of cultures in it that represent some of the best global Cheddars from the United Kingdom to Canada to New Zealand. It’s an amazing cheese to watch and taste, as one culture dies off, another comes to the front and the taste completely changes.” This is a cheese with a real international pedigree that's been made and aged by our nation's best, so be sure to savor each bite.

Pizootz Dill Almonds by Mad Scientist Nuts
We guarantee you’ve never had anything like Pizootz nuts before, and that’s because they are the only company in the world with a working patent for the infusion of flavor into nuts. That means these almonds are dill-flavored, but without it coming from a powdery, sticky residue. This high-tech breakthrough came when the Pizootz Global Operations Officer/Pizootz Head Chef/Die-hard nut lover Sherry Pennington crossed paths with a retired NASA rocket scientist who had specialized in pressurization—you see where this is going. They started to experiment and, to make a long story short, boom: flavor-infused nuts. She got in touch with her old entrepreneur pal Bo Perry and Mad Scientist Nuts was born, with their trademarked brand of infused nuts called Pizootz. Their nuts have already racked up a Gold Metal Endorsement from the American Masters of Taste, and they’ve even filmed a spot on Shark Tank. As for us, we just like how the nutty, crunchy almonds are bursting with the unmistakeable flavor of a dill pickle. 

Fowl Capone Turkey Jerky by Righteous Felon
If there’s already a jerky in your life, well, it might have to make some space, because there’s a new king pin in town. After having mastered beef jerky, Righteous Felon turned their sights to turkey. Having brought the same focus on high-quality ingredients, it's no surprise that their turkey jerky is also top of the line. All of their products are handmade in small batches, and their Fowl Capone Turkey Jerky (all their products have humorous names) is no different. They start with cage-free turkey and rub it with basil, pepper, lemon zest, and brown sugar before adding just a little bit of smoke. What you get is a tender, succulent, flavorful turkey with a fresh herbal note from the basil. It's also versatile: it can be eaten as a snack, but it's so tender that it can also be added to a salad or a quiche. But, you won't be surprised to know that we think its salty umami is the perfect companion for this month’s cheddars.

Pimento Cheese Kettle Chips by Lillie Q’s
Our final pairing are Pimento Cheese Kettle Chips from Lillie’s Q (yes, we snuck in a cheesy pairing with our cheese box). While you could be forgiven for ravenously devouring the whole bag in one go, we urge you slow down and take it one chip at a time. These were, after all, created by a guy with some serious chops: Chef and Founder of Lillie’s Q Charlie McKenna was a two-time World Barbecue Champion and successful restauranteur, but most importantly he was the grandson of Lillie, who taught him the art of southern cooking. With his lauded restaurants and line of products, he wanted to do Lillie proud, and if these chips are any indication, he surely did.

Let’s start with frying process first, these are kettle chips, which by definition are made in small batches in which the frying oil temperature dips when the potatoes are added. This drop in temperature means the chips cook longer, resulting in a deeper, more caramelized flavor. Kettle chips are also usually cut thicker and so are sturdier than regular potato chips, so they can more than hold their own in the role of "cracker" in this month's box. To really gild the lily, Lillie’s Q coats those perfectly fried chips with creamy pimento powder with just a whisper of heat. 

So there’s our August box, with cheeses and pairings that work equally as well in concert as they do solo. We hope these low maintenance cheeses and pairings facilitate a little bit of an outdoor escape to round off summer. 


Did you take some photos while enjoying this box that you were thinking of adding to Instagram? Please tag us @curdbox, along with our cheese and pairing partners @beehivecheese, @deercreekcheese, @jasperhillfarm, @lilliesq, @pizootz, and @righteousfelon. We love to see our cheese lovers enjoying their boxes!

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