It’s Halloween! Most folks have their minds on costumes and candy. Me? I’ve been waiting for an announcement about Hook’s 15 year cheddar. And guess what? This year’s batch of Hook’s 15-year-old super-aged cheddar is on its way to the Twin Cities.
So why do I anticipate the release of Hook’s 15 year cheddar each year? Hook’s 15-year-old cheddar has an exquisitely balanced, intensely cheddar-y flavor that knocks my socks off.
While some aged cheddars have a bitter quality, the marginal bitterness of the Hook’s 15-year is balanced with sourness and saltiness expected in cheddar cheese. Like so many of the aged cheeses that I enjoy, the lactic acid has crystallized in the Hook’s 15-year-old cheddar forming slightly crunchy bits of calcium lactate, the crystals ranging in color from darkish yellow to almost white. It’s only slightly crumbly, and best at room temperature. I savor the delectable cheddar chunks on their own, or perhaps with a few slices of apple.
Hook’s cheddar hails from Mineral Point, Wisconsin. Nearly 40 years ago, college sweethearts, Tony and Julie Hook started making cheese together. They source their milk from small, family owned farms near Mineral Point. And for you cheese trivia fans out there, Julie Hook remains the only woman to win the World Championship Cheese Contest for her Colby cheese in 1982.
This year, they will begin selling their 15 year cheddar at their cheese factory in Mineral Point on Friday, Nov. 1 and at the Dane County Farmers Market on Saturday, Nov 2. You can look for it soon 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.