Much unlike many a magazine editor who recommends you buy all sorts of crap that they most likely got for free, your Jezebel staff doesn't get jack shit (other than books, unsolicited). And that's how it should be. But on our own time, in our personal lives, we still buy stuff. So this is Worth It, our recommendation of random things that we've actually spent our own money on. These are the things we buy regularly or really like, things we'd actually tell our friends about. And now we're telling you.
Being born and bred as a child of the Wisconsin prairie has left me both extremely lactose tolerant (give me an MRI and I wouldn't be surprised if my brain was actually a giant fried cheese curd) and a genuine cheese snob. Sure, there's this whole business about California being the real Dairy State, but, with all due respect to the Golden State, that title is based solely on the rate of production and not at all on flavor. Don't get me wrong; California is better than Wisconsin at a lot of things (for example, movies, recalls and having an ocean), but cheese — specifically cheddar — is not one of them.
Still, even in Wisconsin, where the fields are made of butter and milk rains down from the sky, not all cheddars are created equal — one cheese producer stands above the rest. Hook's Cheese Company, based in Mineral Point, WI, has been producing knock-out award-winning cheddar since 1976 (fun fact: Julie Hook is the only woman to ever win at the World Cheese Championship) and is known for aging their cheese to perfection. From their website:
At Hook's Cheese Company, Inc. we age our cheese in curing caves at just the right temperature and humidity for a slow curing process that allows our cheeses to age to perfection. Every few months each batch is taste tested to insure that only the cheeses of the highest quality are saved to age.
Hook's Cheddar is available as a Two Year, Three Year, Four Year, Five Year, Six Year, Seven Year and Ten Year. In 2011, they even released a 15-year cheddar that retailed for $50 per pound (no word on the taste — everyone who tried it died immediately from what doctors are calling a case of the "heavens"). Getting a hold of this perfect cheese can be a little challenging — I buy it when visiting my family in Wisconsin, then smuggle it back to New York in the lining of my suitcase as if it were drugs — but the cheese is available to order directly from Hook's if you're willing to order 5 lbs. of it. Sound like too much? Start a cheese cooperative and share it with friends!
The pricing is available only by request, but, based on my experiences buying at the local farmers market, the 7-year goes for an estimated $10 per pound. While to the unfamiliar palate this might seem a little steep, believe me — because I mean this from the bottom of my heart and cheese-clogged arteries — one taste of Hook's Aged Cheddar in a grilled cheese sandwich or paired with a honeycrisp apple and you'll know that it's totally worth it.
Worth It only features things we paid for ourselves and actually like. Don't send us stuff.