Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Saturday Seven: Favorite Cheeses

Our Christmas holiday was blessed with a series of gastronomic pleasures. Delicious meals, paired with enjoyable wines, fresh baked breads, fantastic cheeses and scrumptious desserts. There is something quite enjoyable about cheese. Typically when I go out for a fine restaurant, I like to end the meal with a selection of cheeses. It is a practice quite common in Europe, but less-so here in the US. It isn't hard to find good cheese here, but most people think of cheese as a before dinner food. I find cheese to be a wonderful way to end a meal. Last night we enjoyed a quiet dinner at home, and finished off with a fantastic wedge of Rugged Coastal English Cheddar Cheese. It was deliciously sweet, with calcium crystals in it, signifying its proper aging. It was the inspiration for this week's edition of The Saturday Seven: Favorite Cheeses. I don't profess to be a connoisseur of fine cheeses, or to have a particularly advanced palette, but none-the-less, here are my seven favorites:
#1 Cheddar: Without question my favorite variety. I am partial to English Cheddar, but I usually eat American Cheddar, made from happy California cows, or from Wisconsin. Cheddar is usually aged from nine to twelve months. A mature cheddar has a firm, smooth texture and a rich, full flavor. It can be "white" or "yellow", but either way I find it delicious.
#2 Stilton: A magnificent cheese, known as the "king of English cheeses", it is smooth and creamy with a slightly acidic flavor. It is a delicious dessert cheese too. It is made from whole cow’s milk cheese, aged for four to six months with some Roquefort added to grow the mold. It is creamy yet slightly crumbly and has delicate blue-green veins. It has a somewhat mild flavor, not too heavy in the usual 'blue cheese" family.
#3 Buffalo Mozzarella- seems like an odd choice among flavored and hard cheeses but I love it! It is a soft, slice able curd cheese that originally comes from Italy. Some readers may recall I saw fresh mozzarella being made before my eyes while in Sicily this past fall. I was amazed and enthralled by it that day. Traditional mozzarella is made from water buffalo milk, which is high in fat. This cheese is not aged like most cheeses and is actually best when eaten just after it has been made. I love to eat it with fresh ripe tomatoes and basil, a touch of olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar.
#4 Stinking Bishop: is a soft cheese from the South West of England. It is made from cows raised in the Gloucestershire area and is distinctive for its flavor. As the name suggests, it is a cheese with an odor, but it is quite pleasant. Its color can be white, yellow or beige and often has a rind that is usually white, but sometimes orange or grey. It's nice on crackers, or fresh baked, warm crusty French or Italian bread. Add to it a glass of wine? Mmmm I get excited just thinking about that, don't you?
#5 Caerphilly: It is a fine Welsh white cheese, moderately firm and creamy. Its delicate flavor is slightly salty and lightly acidic. Caerphilly is made with a long and complicated process. It curdles at high temperatures, is cut into cubes then is stirred for awhile before it is able to age. It is probably the most famous of all Welsh cheeses-I first became enamored by it while living in the UK back in the early 80's. I spent many a time in Wales and learned to partake in the local pleasures such as Caerphilly cheese!
#6 Havarti: a well known, semi-soft Danish cheese made from cow's milk aged for three months. Havarti is aged without a rind and has a smooth buttery, slightly acidic flavor, with a white cream to yellow color depending on how it is made. It is known for having "eyes", small and irregular openings throughout. The "holes" are not as large as Swiss cheese, these are much smaller and not as hard in texture.
#7 Lancashire: a creamy, textured cheese with a mild flavor, aged for two to three months. It's light, creamy flavor makes it perfect for breakfast, sandwiches or even with tea. It can be slightly crumbly and has a mild acidic flavor, aged for just two to three months. It is an "easy" cheese to enjoy, not offensive to anyone. It is a safe choice when having guests who may not be cheese fans. I guess I would compare it to things like Monterey Jack cheese, although that is a little more soft and creamy.
What kids of cheeses do you like? Go ahead, leave a comment. Even if you are a velveeta or cheese whiz person, I welcome all comments and opinions.
-Rick Rockhill


© Karelian Blonde said...

I love cheese to the extend that if I had to choose cheese or chocolate, and go without the other till the end of days, cheese would win hands down :)

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

wow, i never even heard of numbers 4,5, or 7! shows what i know!

what about parm?

smiles bee

kenju said...

O know virtually nothing about cheese, but I like Havarti and brie.

Sunshine said...

Our Maytag Blue Cheese here is pretty famous...I'd send you some if I had your addy.
My favorite: parmesan reggiano - it is just so darn yummy.

lime said...

i have to say i have never acquired a taste for any of the cheeses with mold. but i do love cheese. fresh mozzarella is so yummy. i love feta with fresh tomatoes and basil as well. gouda and swiss are others i enjoy munching.

when i was a kid i was famous for my love of provolone.

jackie said...

I like pepper-jack cheese and also the creamyu onion kinds that spread easily on crackers. Mmmmm! fun post today, I'm drooling already.

Jeni said...

Ah cheeses! A man after my own heart who loves cheese! I too love cheddar, mozzarella as well. Blue cheese in dressing, yes but not to just"eat." However, along with Monteray Jack and pepper cheese, there's also colby that often shows up in my fridge. But one of my all time favorites is Bondost -a Swedish cheese that my grandparents insisted had to be on hand for Christmas celebrations! My kids and I all love it too! My grandfather though had a penchant for the stinky Swedish cheese -good old limburger -and we grandkids would usually disappear when he enjoyed that with his crackers or "skorpers" or rye bread! I could never get up the nerve to try it as I just couldn't handle that smell!
Great post and I hope you realize you just made me really hungry now for some cheese! Good thing we just happen to have some Bondost waiting in the fridge today!

Anonymous said...

I love Saint-Andres... oh so creamy and oh-so yummy!

Michael Manning said...

What a fascinating look at cheeses! I grew up on Feta cheese in a European family. Outside of Cheese Whiz, I love it all! Great variety here!

Mags said...

Sorry I'm so late on commenting on this one Rick-I did see your comment earlier today but had a family party to attend to. :) Oh, and I made a cheese platter!!

Let me start by saying: I LOVE CHEESE.

Almost any cheese, actually-it's my favorite thing, I do believe. I'm a huge fan of Stilton and Blue Cheese. I also love goat cheese with ash in it. Have you ever had that? OMG it's fantastic! Smoked gouda ranks pretty high in my book too, but my ultimate favorites are extra sharp white Vermont cheddar and plain old extra sharp Italian table cheese. Holy Hannah-they are SO good at room temperature.

I've never heard of stinking bishop and I am SO curious. It looks like brie which I have to admit, is the once cheese I just can't get into. I try so hard, but just can't. I dunno...but this stinking bishop-I'd love to try it. I'll have to explore some cheese shops around to see if I can find it-once I'm employed again. :)

Thanks for sharing your favorites-by the way, the stilton picture is making me drool. :)

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I've always liked Harvarti very very much.....Certain Chedders, too...I still remember some Farm made Chedder I had over 50 years ago bought at a Lancaster, PA. thingy.....Where they sold ALL kinds of cheeses and other foods, too....! It was the most delicious chedder I have ever eaten---STILL, to this day!

Desert Songbird said...

I love swiss, havarti, and cheddar, but I'm Dutch, so I also love Gouda!

Rhodester said...

I used to be partial to Stilton, until reading today that the 4 year old son of a blogger friend asked his mom to make him a "girl cheese sammich".

So now that's my favorite.. "girl cheese".

WAT said...

I love cheese! Mmmmmmmm...

With crackers or on a salad. Delicious!

Olivia said...

I see I have missed a lot of your posts since Christmas *small panic* but I will catch up right now.

It's funny, we were just having a discussion about cheese yesterday at table, my roomie and I love the stuff but she eats more of it than I do. I like to make an occasion of it. Her friend G, despite being a stylish guy, admitted to loving Kraft slices, at which I nearly spat out my tea in an uncontrollable guffaw.

Me, I like fairly modest but smooth cheeses such as Jarlsberg, gruyere, Swiss, Emmentaler...I like how perfect the surfaces and nutty the taste. I also like great melters like American cheddar (English tastes like smelly cow), monterey or jalapeno jack, and some other Mexican varieties.

On the classier side, I love brie when it's medium aged - rather disgustingly my father likes it when it's full of ammonia, about to grow legs and walk off - he's also a big blue cheese lover. Must be the Greek/Icelandic taste for strong things. In London I liked a bit of some run of the mill Dolcelatte which was creamy and blue but melted wonderfully into pasta.

Another cheese that goes well with pasta is Halloumi from Cyprus which is salty and creamy and usually contains a dash of mint. You toast squares in a dry pan, add to pasta of any sort, and voila, you have some extra fun squeaky chewing.

Once at a Christie's wine/cheese reception at a specialty cheese shop off Marylebone Lane, I tried some proper stinky Vacherin cheese, along with other varieties I'd never heard of, nor am likely to ever again.

Patricia said...

mmmmmmmm and I love cheese!! I miss "brie"...
nice blog!!


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