Chèvre or Harbison? Cheesemongers Weigh In on the Best Cheese to Bring to a Picnic

“Cheese is love,” a mantra heard over and over again at Brooklyn’s Cheesemonger Invitational this past weekend. Gouda, Muenster, aged Comté, (the list goes on) were all present at the competition created by third generation cheese importer, Adam Moskowitz, who MC’d the festivities dressed in, what else but a cow costume. The annual event attracts Cheesemongers (sellers of cheese, butter, and other dairy paraphernalia) from around the country who competed their encyclopedic knowledges of cheese for a prize. Eataly's Eric Schack took home first place after scoring top marks in tests ranging from aroma and taste to salesmanship and plating.

 
 Photographed by Stan Young, Condé Nast Archive, August 1961

Photographed by Stan Young, Condé Nast Archive, August 1961

 

So naturally, it was the perfect venue to pick up tips on how to picnic with cheese, a notoriously tricky and particularly pungent snack to pack. Here, the advice of 7 cheesemongers:

Josh Windsor, Murray’s Cheese
Long Island City, New York
Favorite Cheese: Camembert Fermier

“Alpines are a great option, they hold up to the heat without melting. They don’t smell too funky when they’ve been in the heat for awhile. They’re easy to portion and they’re a great crowd pleaser. Wrap it in wax paper and if you can, carry it with an ice pack."

Seth & Jon Cohen, Ford Farm
Dorchester, England
Favorite Cheese: Brie & Coastal Cheddar

“If you’re packing a cheeseboard, you have to make sure to get complimentary flavors. You know something sharp, something sweet, something salty. When you combine all of those things together, you get the perfect cheese board.”

Roger Longman, White Lake
Pylle, Somerset, UK
Favorite Cheese: Époisses

“If I was going on a picnic and traveling for a long time, I’d take a Pavé Cobble. It’s a very light, creamy sheep’s cheese—it just goes with everything. The key to traveling with cheese is to take a whole cheese. If you take a slice, it tends to go off when the air connects to it. So yeah, take a whole cheese rather than a slice.”

Cathryn Pickei, @catdreamsofcheese
New York, NY
Favorite Cheese: Harbison from Jasper Hill

“I’d take Chèvre, it’s a very fresh, light, crumbly goat’s milk cheese. Excellent with rosé. I wouldn’t say it gets better when it gets warmer but, it’s one of those cheeses where it warms up at room temp and it’s delicious. It’s just so fresh and great and you can roll it in herbs to give it some flavor. It’s definitely my favorite picnic cheese. I always say it’s my summer cheese. Don’t bring a super gooey one because it’s just going to be a lake. If you can bring one that’s not going to be too hard and require knives, that’s good. Harbison is also the perfect picnic cheese because its contained in this little wheel and you slice it off the top and you just dip your bread in. It’s delicious.”

Rory Stamp, Cheese Open Doors
Burlington, Vermont
Favorite Cheese: Sugar House Creamery Dutch Knuckle

“I always like a hard alpine cheese, something that’s not too temperature sensitive and its delicious. I always keep a pocket knife with me. A cutting board is nice but made from any natural material. Some fresh fruit, maybe some mustard, maybe a little bit of salami or charcuterie—just don’t go over the top and make sure you have a nice baguette.”

Glenn Hills, Columbia Cheese
New York, NY
Favorite Cheese: Challerhocker

“Bring sturdy cheese. Challerhocker is great because it’s a mountain cheese. It evolved out of the need to bring cheese down the mountain. You might want to bring one soft cheese because it’s hard to live without that. Jasper Hill Harbison is a bloomy-rind cheese that’s covered in spruce bark and you can just cut off the top and scoop into it like soup. It’s so good. And bring a cooler. Yeah just bring stuff you like to eat. For me it’s salami and at this time of year it’s watermelon radishes, like something crunchy. Crunch is so important!”

Clara Diez, Quesería Cultivo
Madrid, Spain
Favorite Cheese: CG40

"Definitely I’d bring easy cheeses, small ones. It’s called lactic cheeses and those are the recipes that are made without using rennet, like coagulated milk. So I would definitely bring some of them because they are creamy with a little bit acid. When it’s sunny and warm, it’s not so repressing because they aren’t too salty. I would definitely bring some butter and some sourdough bread because if you put together a good soda bread and then a good butter and then you put a little bit of cheese on top, you have the perfect bite. It’s so easy! And natural wine to drink with, something refreshing. I would prefer to pair cheese with white wine because it’s more acidic and more refreshing and if you’re going to go for a picnic under the sun, that’s what you need, right?”

Lauren Sanchez for Vogue

Anne Rucker