Fully stocked wine cellars are old news—cheese is the newest focus at luxury hotels. Caves and cellars are filled with wheels of cheese that range from stinky to imported and aged, plus varieties made in the hotels themselves.
Forbes Travel Guide rounded up five top hotels where you can sample ripe, creamy due latte and maple-and-whiskey-infused cheddar, including properties that take a locavore angle and focus on regional cheeses. Read on for our some of the best luxury hotels where the cheese stands alone—then visit Startle.com, Forbes Travel Guide’s new online home to learn more.
Blackberry Farm, Walland, Tenn.
Twice a week, farmstead manager Dustin Busby and cheesemaker Adam Spannaus head into the creamery at this Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star country inn outside Knoxville. Inside, they transform fresh milk from their flock of East Friesian sheep into a handful of artisan cheeses, such as the washed-rind Trefoil or the Singing Brook—which is wiped down with olive oil as it ages in the basement cheese cave. The creamery and cave are just a small part of the hotel’s culinary operations—Blackberry Farm also produces organic vegetables, charcuterie, honey and preserves. Most of the cheese heads straight next door to be served at Four-Star restaurant The Barn at Blackberry Farm, but guests can visit the creamery and take home a few varieties—try the Brebis, a sheep’s milk chèvre.
A glass-enclosed cheese cave inside this Four-Star hotel’s Toca restaurant is filled with upwards of 200 cheeses for guests to sample. The collection offers plenty of local varieties, fitting the restaurant’s focus on sustainable Canadian cuisine. Between three and four cheeses are offered nightly at the tables, but true cheese lovers can taste their way through the 50 varieties that are ready to eat at any given time, including a Valencia goat cheese or a five-year aged cheddar that Toca’s chefs infuse with maple syrup and whiskey. The cellar’s marble shelves also hold cheese for residents of the hotel’s condos—some buy wheels and age them to perfection in the cave.
Last year’s renovation of NoMI Kitchen on the hotel’s seventh floor included the addition of a wall-sized cheese cellar at the lounge’s entrance, where executive pastry chef Meg Galus displays her unique cheeses and housemade charcuterie and olives. As you enter the dining room, you’ll spot the fresh ricotta she makes from Illinois’ Kilgus Farmstead milk and the rich goat’s milk Robiola from Iowa—it tastes like a rich brie, with a tart, chalky center that turns soupy as it ages, Galus says. She hopes to add her own washed-rind cheeses to the cellar in the future, but for now the marble-wrapped wooden shelves mainly store local cheeses that can be ordered on a tasting board—made up of cheeses and charcuterie plus accompaniments such as pickles and marinated olives.
Small-batch cheeses have long been popular at Caprice, the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel’s French restaurant, spurring the manager to build a walk-in cheese cellar and chef’s table. The backlit shelves hold wheels of cheese—including 25 unpasteurized options from small producers throughout France—plus wines to accompany them. Caprice has the help of a French affineur—a dedicated cheese selector—to choose its varieties, importing novel flavors from Normandy, Burgundy, Provence and the Pyrénées each season. Tables of up to eight can reserve the cellar and try a range of fresh, pressed and aged cheeses, including the Saint Nicolas de la Dalmerie, a goat’s cheese that has been produced since 1695 by monks near Montpellier, France.
Hotel del Coronado, San Diego
The three floor-to-ceiling cheese refrigerators at the hotel’s Eno wine bar make for easy browsing, but we recommend relaxing by the outdoor fire pits on the ocean-view patio and letting your server select the cheese for you. Eno serves just three indulgences—wine, cheese and chocolate—and the entire staff is certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers and is well-versed on the local cheese highlighted on the menu. The eatery showcases cheese from California’s Central Coast, including aged Fiscalini bandaged cheddar and a food-friendly Sonoma dry jack that wine director Ben Kephart likes to pair with Sonoma Valley pinot noir (meal-worthy cheese flights also come with mostarda, jam, cornichons and bread). Don’t leave without trying Eno’s most popular cheese—the three month-aged Pondhopper is a firm, sharp goat’s cheese from Oregon with an acidic finish.
By Sarah White
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