Every great meal needs an appetizer. The cook just can't stand in the kitchen without something to nibble on! Why not make locally-made cheese your go-to appetizer?
Check out The Cheese Shop of Des Moines. This locally-owned establishment specializes in artisanal cheeses and always carries a stock of Iowa goods.
Looking for a gift idea? This holiday season, The Cheese Shop is selling cheese collections. "The Iowan" and "Iowa Bounty" combos include a selection of Iowa cheeses, prosciutto from Norwalk-based La Quercia and gourmet jam from Clear Creek Orchard in Collins.
Here are Iowa-based producers and shops to get your cheese fill. Order your spread now to enjoy all holiday season.
Northern Prairie Chevre
Specialize in Artisan goat cheese made in their own processing facility on the farm. Visit the farm and see the dairy barn, parlor and meet the goats. Their retail store is open April through December.
This small dairy farm uses traditional Dutch cheese-making techniques to produce their gouda cheese. Holstein cows are grass-fed through the spring and summer and maintained in a freestall barn during the winter. Visitors can even stay on the farm in the Cheesemaker's Inn.
Honey Creek Creamery
Chevre is crafted every two days. The goat cheese's mild flavor is derived from the local Loess Hills vegetation and enhanced by fresh herbs.
This creamery started in 2005 as a joint venture between a local Amish dairy and the Musser family. The cheese is made with milk from cows on small Amish dairy farms.
Reichert's Dairy Air
Iowa's first micro-dairy makes small batches of cheese by hand every day with milk from a herd of 15 goats.
Maytag Dairy Farms
Makers of the famous Maytag Blue Cheese, which is still made by hand in small batches using sweet milk from Iowa dairy farms.
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This certified-organic dairy farm gives tours to visitors where you can visit the cows right in their pasture.