The elusive Hook's 15 Year is from Wisconsin produced by Tony and Julie Hook. They produce over 30 types of cheeses, many of them award-winning. Nothing so special as the 15 Year Cheddar, which I first learned about on All Things Considered (I'm an avid NPR listener). A Friday factory tour is definitely on my cheese vacation bucket list.
The 15 Year is harvested every November and is around only until supplies last. My package arrived late November, but I still had so much cheese left over from my birthday cheese party and I wanted to save it for a special occasion - so I waited.
That occasion was Christmas Eve. Since I was little, I've left Santa cheese instead of cookies. I thought that maybe if I left him such special cheese that perhaps I'd get really special gifts. I did!
It's mid-January and I'm almost done with my two pounds. The sharpness is powerful, with a tangy bite that is not at all bitter. It crumbles in your hand and when you chew it, the age crystals crunch in your mouth. It is beautiful. It is my drug. When I'm not at home, I think of it in my fridge and wonder when I will get my next 15 year fix. I eat it straight or with crackers - always with a red wine or a dark beer. My favorite thing to do with Hook's is share it with family and friends. The look they get on their face when they first try it is priceless. Any cheese lover should have it once in his or her life.
Here's me trying it on Christmas Eve for the first time.