Hella Dry Vella

Vella‘s Dry Aged Jack Cheese is a San Francsco Bay Area culinary treasure. Prized for its sharp, sweet, yet slightly-nutty character. Its so low in moisture that it can live contentedly in your refrigerator until long after the cows come home. It can even stay there until all the cows have been cooked and eaten- it just gets harder and drier and tastier. Even the rind, when you are ready to approach it with a butcher knife, will offer subtle notes of black pepper and unsweetened cocoa.

This cheese has a storied history associated with both monks and rogues. When the Franciscan friars living around Monterey California during the 19th century first started crafting a mild white cheese they never would have imagined that their cheesecraft would  become part of the city’s patrimony.

Yet when a ruthless landlord and dairy-owner named David Jack, a man whom the novelist Robert Louis Stevenson famously recommended should be strung up, started marketing his own version of the friar’s cheese, first under the name “Jack’s Cheese”, and later as “Monterey Jack Cheese”  it became a nationally recognized brand.

This dense, crumbly, palate-stimulating cheese can be enjoyed with wedges of sliced avocado and fig jam atop toastd rolls stuffed with nuts and currants, or with a nice glass of Pinot Noir and some redemptive olive bread from Berkeley’s Phoenix Pastificio, or perhaps as a local California alternative to Parmigiano-Reggiano in any number of pasta dishes.