Almost everyone loves good cheese; however, most of us don’t really “know our cheeses” – worst, many of us are very happy with sliced Kraft American “pasteurized” Cheddar/Swiss slices. Ugh! You can do better and for not too much more money. I think I have finally – after 70 years of eating an assortment of cheeses, now know the ones on my list of “favorites.” So, I’ll share that information with you.
I’m sure that you know that “making cheese” has been around for a long, long time, but perhaps, you didn’t know that cheeses were made to preserve extra milk (before it spoiled) into a solid cake that would last longer.
First, my list of “ho-hum” cheeses: any cheeses made from pasteurized milk, blocks of cheese with herbs, spices, jalapenos, wine, nuts (frequently, set out as a nibble with cheap crackers), tiny cubes of Swiss, most anything “smoked,” feta, Limburger Monterey Jack, Port Salute, Havarti, cheap blue cheese, and probably a lot of others that you see in the supermarket “Cheese” section.
Now, I do have a few favorites at the supermarket: a good Gorgonzola, aged Stilton Blue Cheese, Asiago, Saga (is a real treat), Bel Gloioso “Extra Sharp Provolone,” Parmigiano Reggiano, Brie/Camembert, Jarlsberg, Manchego, Perocorina, and Goat Cheese come to mind.
My favorite cheese store is the “Cheese Iron” www.thecheeseiron.com in Scarborough. I also like Whole Foods in Portland http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/products/cheese.php and they no longer charge premium prices. Here are some of my very favorite cheeses: Morbier (France +60), Roncal (Raw milk +60),Valdeon (Spanish Blue), Bartlett Blue (Raw cow’s milk), Greensborough, Maine Saco Bay Mist, Extra-aged Mimolette (France) and Beester XO (Holland). I like eating the cheese on Bremner’s crackers (http://www.bremnerbiscuitco.com/ ).
Maybe, with some slices of a great dry salami like Salametto, some aged premium olives and some pieces of a great French bread (with real Irish butter). During the last of July, “fresh” figs come into season. Cut them in half and wrap them with pieces of prosciutto, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and broil for a few minutes. Serve with a good wine or a designer beer. My mouth is watering as I type this!
If you live in Midcoast Maine, consider taking a course in “Cheese Making” at the Morris Farm in Wiscassetwww.morrisfarms.org
OK… I hope you get to try some of my suggestions.