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Cheese Culture Takes Hold

By: Tenaya Darlington

Twenty years ago, most of the best cheeses were European imports. Today, the American cheese scene is developing beautifully, like a bloomy rind on a luscious round of Humboldt Fog. Within the last five years, the number of artisan cheesemakers has doubled, from around 400 in 2006 to more than 800 in 2011, according to Jeff Roberts, cofounder of the Vermont Institute of Artisan Cheese. Leading the movement are people like Emily Bryant Montgomery of Calkins Creamery, a sustainable dairy in Wayne County, Pennsylvania. Her lush Noble Road—whose "cheese portrait" by Mike Geno, shown above, we commissioned for this issue—smells sweetly of truffles and herbs and fully expresses the terroir of her family's sixth-generation farm. For the ultimate tasting experience, try it with a fine glass of American bubbly.

The artist Mike Geno, a cheese portraitist, at his studio in Philadelphia, March 5, 2012. Using cheese as his staple subject, Geno has been painting portraits of food for over a decade. (Jessica Kourkounis/The New York Times)