You already know how much I enjoy cheese, particularly with my champagne or sparkling wine around champagne hour. Here is a quick review, just in case you might want to try something different.
Gouda: This semi-hard cheese originated in the city of Gouda in South Holland, the Netherlands. It’s one of the oldest recorded cheeses in the world, dating back to the 12th century, and its now mass produced all over the world. But there are still three protected Goudas made in the Netherlands, including Gouda Holland, produced in the traditional way with unpasteurized milk. Its mild taste makes the cheese a top choice for melting and sandwiches. Aged, it’s full-flavored with a slight sweetness and a crunch of salt crystals. (My gouda maker in Amsterdam says gouda need not be refrigerated!)
Brie: Although various types of Brie cheese are made all over the world, the only two protected ones are from its home region in Northern France – Brie de Meaux and Brie de Melun. Made from unpasteurized milk, matured for longer, and with a more intense, pungent, and creamy texture, these are the ones for your cheeseboard. Other Brie-style cheeses tend to be very mild and are suitable for cooking, as they melt so well. Try them in our pie. (One of my favorites, I always keep one in the freezer)
Feta: Traditional Greek feta has protected status within the European Union, though other countries produce their own versions. It’s made from sheep’s milk, or a combination of sheep and goats’ milk, and the cheese is dry salted, then aged in brine. Further maturation takes place in steel bins or wooden barrels, which imparts a complex flavor and firmer texture. Feta is perfect for salads, and we love this recipe for feta omelet, too. (I never cared for feta until I spent a few weeks in Athens, it is the best!)
Manchego: Firm with a buttery texture, Manchego is Spain’s most famous cheese. It is protected and needs to be made in the La Mancha region in central Spain with the milk from Manchega sheep. As a result, it has that citrus tang, common in sheep’s cheese. It must be aged for two months, but can be aged for up to two years, allowing the flavors to become more complex. Traditionally eaten with quince paste, it also works great with chorizo in this cornbread recipe. (It is an acquired taste, a bit strong, but quite delicious)
Camembert: This soft cheese, with a soft, edible rind, is made in Normandy, northern France. Only one is protected, Camembert de Normandie, which is made from unpasteurized milk – and when young, it has a chalky texture through the center. To eat it on its own, you can mature it at room temperature overnight, or slowly in the fridge, where it develops a creamier texture and depth of flavor. You can also melt the whole cheese in its wooden box in the oven, great as a dip with toast or bread sticks. (One of my re-discoveries, and now I prefer it over brie)
Jarlsberg: A mild, nutty cheese with a yellow wax rind, Jarlsberg comes from Norway, though it has gained in popularity throughout the world. It’s a multipurpose cheese, good for snacking and cooking, and it’s pretty good on a cheeseburger too. You can also find aged Jarlsberg, which has more depth of flavor. (We enjoy the Jarlsberg with sliced apples for a great car trip snack)
Taleggio: Taleggio is made from cows’ milk and comes from the valley of the same name in northern Italy. It’s a washed rind cheese, constantly brushed with sea water during the maturing process. It smells more pungent than it tastes, though – buttery, soft and oozy, it’s quite addictive. Allow it an hour at room temperature before eating with bread. It also melts very well. (Not easy to find, but a nice alternative to Monterey Jack cheese)
Halloumi: Halloumi originates from Cyprus, and is made from sheep and goats’ milk, or occasionally cows. It’s a brined cheese, semi-hard and quite salty, which is perfect for cooking, as it holds its shape to give a crisp exterior and melting center. You can fry, bake or grill it and serve it with salads and roasted vegetables. It makes the most wonderful fries, too, but watch out, they are very moreish. (My first taste was barbecued on a skewer, quite good)
Vacherin Mont d’or: High up on the Swiss French border by the mountainous peak of Mont d’Or, comes this rich, full cream, extraordinary cheese. It’s only made in the winter months from pasteurized milk in Switzerland, and raw milk in France, from traditional breeds of cows. It’s wrapped in spruce bark, the plentiful local wood. The cheese is protected and normally sold at four weeks’ maturity. Simply served with a spoon, it’s so creamy. Or you can bake it in the oven and dip bread or potatoes into it, fondue style. (Definitely, use a spoon, a small spoon)
Reblochon: Made in the French Alps region of Haute-Savoie since the 13th century, reblochon is a smooth, creamy cheese with an edible rind and a slightly earthy, nutty taste. The cheese is protected, and there are two varieties – “fermier” (farmer), which has to be made by hand from the milk from one herd, and “laitier” (dairy), which can be made from any approved, always unpasteurized, milk. Eat it on its own, or in tartiflette – a gratin of potatoes, crispy lardons, shallots, and cream, with a whole cheese on top. Very creamy, and the rind is great!)
Details courtesy of Love Food.
Make sure you tell me if you have a favorite cheese, or one that I need to try.
My only problem with cheese, it dries out if not consumed in a few days. But head to Trader Joe’s, and grab something new and different. And make sure you “wash” it down with your favorite bubbly!