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Read: Food Writing

Locally Sourced: Lone Grazer cheese uses fresh, local milk

Beth Dooley



A sampling of cheeses from the Lone Grazer.

The Lone Grazer — this cheese stands alone. It’s also delicious in sandwiches, on pizza, tossed with pasta. Made with fresh milk from two small Minnesota dairy farms — Sunrise Meadows in Cokato and Stengaard near Sebeka — Lone Grazer’s cheeses reflect our local terroir, the taste of a particular place.

Lone Grazer’s processing plant is in the Food Building, not far from the Mississippi River, on NE. Marshall Street in Minneapolis. Cheese maker Rueben Nilsson mastered his craft in the cheese caves of Faribault, Minn., before joining Kieran Folliard’s local craft food destination.

“The milk we work with comes from heritage breeds that graze outdoors on prairie grass,” he said. “Its flavors change through the seasons depending on the cows’ diets. The milk is especially rich in butterfat and protein, perfect for cheese making.”

Lone Grazer String Cheese, a fresh-tasting mozzarella, showcases the milk’s pure, sweet flavor. It’s a simple, straightforward cheese, great for snacking or as a pizza topping. Its cheese curds are Cheddary, tangy and slightly salty, designed for snacking and great with a beer.

Grazier’s Edge cheese is washed with 11 Wells Rye Whiskey (from the St. Paul distillery). It has a distinct, sharp edge and a buttery texture. It melts beautifully into pasta and is especially good smeared on slices of dense, chewy rye bread.

Hansom Cab’s elusive smoky flavor comes from a wash of Lapsang Souchong tea and 2 Gingers Irish whiskey. Aged as a small wheel, its texture is dense and meaty. It’s immensely satisfying in grilled cheese, even better alone on a crisp water cracker.

Northeazy, a classic Tomme-style cheese, is a triumph of ultra creaminess with a nutty, mushroom flavor; lovely on a dessert cheese plate with tart jam, nuts and honey.

Thanks to his years in those cheese caves, Nilsson appreciates the importance of the careful practice of ripening cheese that involves the washing, flipping and spritzing that brings a wheel to the apex of delectability. It’s the final care the cheese receives before being released to the hungry public. 

Find Lone Grazer’s cheeses in most grocery stores, cheese shops, gourmet stores, and all of the Twin Cities food co-ops.