While I have not tried every cheese that Trader Joe’s sells (I wish!) I have to say this one is one of the most best and most interesting I’ve bought at Trader Joe’s.

I am a huge fan and love a good Cheddar cheese. The sharper the better for me. Is it because I’m a Damn Yankee (well a New Yorker) and Cheddar seems to be a very Yankee cheese (on this side of the Atlantic anyway)? To my tastebuds, the Sine Qua Non of a classic Cheddar cheese, that was in our house since we were kids, was always CABOT cheddar from Vermont. If not Cabot, a bit more pedestrian but still good, we always had a package of Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp cheddar in our house growing up, as my dad’s favorite cheese was Cheddar by far.

Unexpected Cheddar is quite different from say a classic cheddar such as Cabot. This cheese has a very unique taste and texture unlike any Cheddar I’ve tasted before. So “unexpected”, yes absolutely. As Trader Joe’s own description is so apt, I am going to quote what they say and how they describe this cheese:

“Unexpected Cheddar has been a best-seller since it first hit our cheese cases, back in 2011. It presents itself as an aged Cheddar, and tastes like one as well. Until, it doesn’t. That creamy Cheddar takes an unexpected flavor turn, the texture seems to change as you eat – you might swear you were enjoying an aged Parmesan. On first try, it’s an unexpected pleasure. With subsequent purchases, the only unexpected part of the experience is that it continues to be such a great value. Then again, you’ve come to expect great values at Trader Joe’s, so our price of $3.99 for each seven ounce piece may not be so unexpected after all.”

Forgetting the marketing part, their description of the taste and texture is right on the nose. It has a texture that is much more crumbly than a typical cheddar. It is somewhat between Parmesan and Cheddar. As you slice this cheese, it may very well crumble and fall apart on you, not terribly unlike any aged cheese and especially like a piece of Parmegiano Reggiano, the kind of cheeses. There are flavor profiles in the Unexpected Cheddar which have that same “umami” overtones of a Parmigiano or Grana Padano. This cheese does pair wonderfully with many wines as well as beer and would be a great pick if you are doing a wine tasting (or beer tasting!) If you have guests and serve this you will get much praise.

In our house, the main problem with UNEXPECTED CHEDDAR is it goes fast… its so damn good, its pretty easy for the whole package to get eaten in a day.

If you try a package of this cheese  I don’t think you will be disappointed and it may make it onto your “Must Buy” List. Its a standout of Trader Joe’s products. $4 for 7 oz. So figure about 10/lb. for a very high quality premium cheese.