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Get Schooled by Pastoral's Cheesemonger

March 20 2015 - 9:00 AM
Jordan Edwards

Photo Credit: Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine

I recently had the chance to meet up with Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine’s recently appointed Head Cheesemonger, Jordan Edwards. The topic of discussion? Why, cheese of course! I for one am obsessed with cheese but Jordan has me beat. This guy eat, sleeps, and breathes cheese and has amassed in-depth knowledge of the cheese industry. I met up with Jordan at Pastoral’s French Market location (they also have locations in Lakeview, the Loop, and are opening one in Andersonville) for some cheese chat.  I asked him to describe five things most people don’t know about cheese and cheesemongers:

1) Cheese is comprised of the same four ingredients with not much else added.

Cheese is comprised of salt, enzymes, rennet and milk, and not much else is done to manipulate it. Jordan learned most of his knowledge about cheese and the cheese making process when he started out as a delivery driver for Pastoral.

2) “We all secretly love Kraft Singles.”

Cheesemongers are always tasting cheeses and sometimes you just don’t want to think about what you’re eating. Kraft Singles aren’t real cheese.

3) “We start really early.”

Jordan’s day starts bright and early at 6am and the job is more labor intensive than you think. He lifts and splits 80 pound cheese wheels, and stocks cases on the daily.

4) “Cheese has been made for thousands of years and it hasn’t changed much.”

Jordan’s aim is to keep that tradition alive. His job tasks him with conveying the information on cheese labels to customers without making the cheese buying experience overly intimidating. He tries his best to describe how something tastes without being pretentious. What’s the one word he hates used to describe cheese? “Nutty.”

5) One of his favorite cheeses is a Cheshire English cheese.

“It tastes like your fingers after you ate a bag of Cheetos.”

Now that’s a tasting note I can get down with.

As a bonus, I asked Jordan to put together five unique picks to create a cheese board to impress at your next party or picnic (side note: I taste tested all of these and can attest to their awesomeness).

1) Alemar Cheese Company’s Good Thunder Cow’s Milk Cheese: This cheese is washed in Surly Brewing’s oatmeal brown ale, Bender!

Good Thunder Cow's Milk Cheese

Photo Credit: Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine

2) Hidden Springs Creamery’s Driftless Sheep’s Milk Cheese: This cheese is sustainably farmed using plow horses. The farm owns all 500 of its sheep and even knows each by first name (yes, they all have names).

Photo Credit: Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine

Photo Credit: Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine

3) Brabander L’Amuse Goat Gouda: This goat’s milk Gouda is from Holland and has notes of almonds and toffee. It’s a crowd pleaser (it was my favorite of the five cheeses) and thrives off the classic sweet/savory flavor combo.

Brabander L'Amuse Goat Gouda

Photo Credit: Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine

4) Mycella Blue Cow’s Milk Cheese: This is a Danish blue cheese crafted in old world style but sold at a reasonable price. It’s very fruit forward with hints of raspberry and acts as a nice “gateway blue” for those who may not love blue cheese.

Mycella Blue

Photo Credit: Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine

5) Brie Fermier Cow’s Milk Cheese: This brie comes from a French cheesemonger whole raises the cows that produce milk for cheesemaking. It has notes of cauliflower gratin as well as the oddest but truest tasting note: the flavor you get when you dip bread in steak drippings on your plate.


Photo Credit: Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine