It’s easy to fall into a rut with food – even with something as varied and wonderful as cheese. As the new “head cheese” in our charcuterie and cheese department, I’ve got a few suggestions If you’re trying to expand your horizons when it comes to cheese, and move beyond the three or four kinds you always buy, here are my top tips:
- Find a knowledgeable source of information that will let you try as many cheeses as you’d like – At FRESH, our staff is equipped with detailed information about each of our cheese selections and will let you taste anything you desire. Just ask!
- Decide if you prefer cow, sheep or goat milk cheeses (or all of them if you are like me) – Do you like the buttery richness of cow’s milk cheeses, the tang of goat’s milk cheeses or the mellow nuttiness of sheep’s milk cheese? This will help you narrow down your search if there is one that you do not care for at all.
- Try different textures (soft, semi-soft, hard) to see which appeals to you most. The texture of cheese varies greatly from extremely hard and granular (like Parmesan) to almost runny (like aged Brie). You might like the taste of a cheese but do not care for its texture. The perfect cheese needs to delight you in both taste and texture.
From there, you can start branching out. Once you know the basic characteristics of cheese you like, you can begin substituting similar ones. For instance:
If you like brie, try: camembert, another buttery French cheese that’s great on warm bread, or saint-andre, a triple-cream French cheese that is super-rich and tastes like brie on steroids.
If you like parmesan, try:cotija, a dry, crumbly, sharply flavored Mexican cheese that’s good for sprinkling on enchiladas or pastas, or grana padano, a hard Italian cheese that’s practically identicial to real parmigianoreggiano, except it’s made in a different part of Italy.
Remember, just like wine, the flavor of cheese is affected by its origin -the climate, the slope of the pasture land, the diet available to the animals who gave the milk, even what time of year the animals were milked. All of these things factor into the final flavor profile of the cheese.
In addition, all cheeses do not pair well with the same foods. Think of cheese like pasta — some noodle shapes are better for thicker, heartier sauces while others work best with smoother sauces.
Come in and let us help you find the cheese that pleases you!