So....how do you smoke a block of cheese so it doesn't melt? I mean, where's there's smoke, there's fire, right? I had no idea until Googling it, so if you're interested, here ya go.
We've had a somewhat spotty history with Trader Joe's Spotlight Cheeses of the Month. See Exhibit A and Exhibit B. But Trader Joe's Oakwood Cold Smoked English Cheddar Cheese is a winner. Unlike other English cheddars from TJ's I've had, this isn't of the cold and clammy variety. No, it's more of the traditional waxy/creamy hybrid of most other cheddars, and it's strong, too. It's not the sharpness itself that really sticks out - I'd say it's midrange at most - but the smoke. And it's definitely oak too...my dad smokes meats quite a bit, experimenting with different wood chips, so I can discern between oak and maple and cherry and whatnot. Very oaky, very smoky. It's almost a little too uniform, though, making me question a little if this cheese were truly smoked or just add smoke flavoring added - I'm giving TJ's the benefit of the doubt and saying the first.
Regardless, this is an excellent cheddar, and a good deal at $7.99 a pound. Pair with a pour of bourbon, some slices of pastrami or roast beef, make a killer mac 'n cheese - lotsa possibilities here. Go at it! Bonus points for the Flanders-esque "Oakely Doakely" on the label as well.
Bottom line: Trader Joe's Oakwood Cold Smoked English Cheddar Cheese: 8.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons.