Great and Glorious Guide to Cheese, Pinnacle of Western Gastronomy
Welcome to this, the Great and Glorious Guide to Cheese, Pinnacle of Western Gastronomy. This article contains the wisdom of the GWS cheese thread condensed and organized for optimal utility. Whether you be a total newbie, or a grizzled cheese veteran, this article aims to expand your horizons and stimulate your salivary glands.
- 1 Organization
- 1.1 Blue cheeses
- 1.2 Soft-ripened cheeses
- 1.3 Washed rind cheeses
- 1.4 Aged hard cheeses
- 1.5 Cow milk cheeses
- 1.6 Goat milk cheeses
- 1.7 Sheep milk cheeses
- 1.8 Miscellaneous cheeses
This guide divides cheese into several categories, such as blue, washed rind, etc. When a cheese doesn't obviously fit into one of the categories, it is categorized by the type of milk used. Any further ambiguous cheeses are gathered in the miscellaneous section.
Blue cheeses are those that have been intentionally inoculated with or exposed to a kind of mold, usually Penicillium roqueforti or Penicillium glaucum, which produces that blue-to-green veining and a flavor that can only be described as "blue." Seriously, it is almost impossible to describe the flavor of blue cheeses through analogy. It is totally unique, and totally awesome. Though many blues have a "bite" that can be be off-putting for cheese newbs, there are some great cheeses out there that are totally accessible and great for starting off. And of course if you want a cheese that will leave your tongue numb for 10 minutes afterward, you can find those too.
There is pretty wide variation within the category of "blue cheese." Blues range in texture from creamy to crumbly, and are often either described as "dirty" or "fruity." Most have no rind, although some do, such as Stilton or Shropshire Blue. Blues are often paired with strong flavors, such as beef or fruit, and can be overpowering if just eaten alone. I personally like to drizzle a little bit of honey on my blues, especially the dirty ones.
This is the great granddaddy of blues. It's no mistake that blue cheese mold is Penicillium roqueforti. Many consider this to be the finest cheese in the world. This guy is region protected, so if the label says Roquefort, it is legally required to be the real deal from some little place in France. It's cave-aged, and taken care of by Gollum-like creatures. It is made of sheep-juice, one of the exceptions to the sheep-cheese-is-bland rule. Forums poster Turkeybone describes Roquefort as one of the "dirty" blues.
Blue del Monviso
This is a phenomenal blue, and very, very newbie friendly. Blue del Monviso is very creamy and mild, with absolutely none of the blue "bite," but a nice blue flavor profile. The creaminess is a great way to draw out people who are reluctant to try blues. I could seriously eat this shit all day it might be my favorite.
This cheese is, as the name implies, one of the sweeter blues, and one of the easiest ones to enjoy. The veins in this cheese are a lovely shade of blue-green or teal, and are sometimes fully green. It has a decent amount of moisture and melts well, yet is still just firm enough for you to crumble. Italian-made, and region-protected, despite the region being kind of large.
This stuff is great, and has a more unique texture and flavor amongst blues – it's "heartier," if you will. Less straight up wet than the last few I have mentioned, but it still has a decent level of moisture. Stilton melts well, and is great for topping burgers. This is another vehemently region-protected cheese that has to meet very exacting standards.
This awesome cheese was the result of some fool trying to recreate Stilton. Despite his little screwup, it made for an exceptional cheese that actually has nothing to do with the town of Shropshire. It's firmer and drier than all previous cheeses.
Roaring 40's is one of the greatest blues that forums poster breakfall87 has ever had the pleasure of tasting. Stronger in flavor and firmer than previously mentioned cheeses, this is a wonderful flavor explosion to amaze your taste buds. This delightful cheese is made from criminal cows from Australia. It's a more complex, meatier bleu, with a firmer than expected texture and even a bit of crunchiness to it.
The flavor profile is slightly sharper than Gorgonzola Dulce, but has significantly increased veining. This is also a very moist cheese, and is an award-winner from the good ol' US of A.
Crater Lake Blue
Forums poster breakfall87 loves this stuff. Excellent flavor, similar to Buttermilk Blue, and yet better in every single way. Comes from moon craters or something like that in Oregon.
Yes, this is in fact made by the same people who make washing machines and other appliances. What most people don't know is they use one of their oldest washing machines to actually make their artisanal cheeses in. Naw, that shit's all made up, but they do make a damn fine cheese. Slightly drier and stronger in flavor than the previous ones. Another US cheese.
The liaison between bries and blues: Wikipedia claims its name is a portmanteau of Camembert and Gorgonzola, which is probably accurate because it combines the flavor profiles of both. Some people find this guy off-putting, but forums poster breakfall87 thinks it's pretty good.
Rogue River Blue
Yes, the same guys that make some awesome craft beers, also own a kick ass creamery. They start with a Roquefort-style blue and wrap it with grape leaves that have been soaked in pear brandy. Its really something incredible. You get the tanginess of the blue with the sweetness of the brandy and fruit. This is the cheese pictured at the top of the blue section.
Gallery of Blue Cheese
My god, is this cheese gorgeous or what? Look at that pure white center. Clearly there is a god, and he wants us to indulge. This French triple-cream brie is one of the finest cheeses currently produced. It's taste is buttery as all get out, and it's smooth and creamy and damn I just don't have words for this masterpiece. Eat this one alone. Savor it. Let no one see you eating it, lest the discover the gluttonous monster that you truly are.
So runny that it has to be sold in a pot. It smells a bit strong but has a delicious and complex flavor, very nutty and earthy. Spoon some out and drizzle it on crusty bread, it's divine.
Forums poster TheLizard has no idea where you can buy this commercially; he had it at Dino in Cleveland Park. It is out of this world if you like soft, stinky cheeses. This one definitely had some funk.
Tomme de Savoire
Tomme de Savoie is a semi-soft cow's milk cheese. It is delicious and can be served with pretty much anything, but forums poster Puppy enjoys it most with dried fruit and honey.
Gallery of Soft-Ripened Cheeses
Washed rind cheeses
This cheese is a polarizing one. It is a soft, viscous cheese that oozes very slowly after you've cut it. It's taste is rather mild and slightly fruity, but there is one caveat. Do not touch this cheese. Use a fork or a toothpick, ANYTHING but your hands. It will make them smell like straight asshole. I'm not using hyperbole, that is EXACTLY what they will smell like. If you follow these simple rules, you are left with quite the tasty cheese!
Aged hard cheeses
Montgomery Farmhouse Cheddar
Oh my god, this cheese. It's absolutely nothing like the lifeless packaged crap you'll find from Kraft. It's absolutely nothing like the pretty darn good aged stuff you'll get from Cabot or Tillamook. This is an entirely different animal altogether. It's earthy, tangy, buttery, and beefy. This would be forums poster Schpyder's favorite cheese in the entire world if not for parmigiano-reggiano.
The best cheddar forums poster nm has had in the US comes from a source you wouldn't expect, Cabot, a larger dairy (along with Jasper Hill farm). They make a very low volume clothbound cheddar called, creatively, Cabot Clothbound. This stuff is amazing. It is also pretty uncommon as there is a limited number of wheels made per year. Check your local cheese shop.
Awww yeah, that's what I'm talking about. You see those little white blooms? Those are flavor mines that explode with awesome delicitude when they reach your tongue. In actuality they are crystallized something or other. Flavors of salt and caramel abound in this one. If there's mention of a famous painter on the wheel, you've got a good one. Seriously this stuff is like toffee, it gets incredibly addictive to eat, so purchase wisely.
Manchego cheese is a sheep milk cheese made in the La Mancha region of Spain. Manchego is aged for 3 months or longer, and is a semi-firm cheese with a rich golden colour and small holes. It ranges from mild to sharp, depending on how long it is aged. Forums poster LoungieMu likes making risotto with this instead of parm, especially if it's something with a lot of herbs and fresh veg. It's got a very bright flavor.
What can I say that you don't know already? It's nutty, sharp, and slightly floral. It's wonderful (and forums poster Schpyder's favorite) as a snacking cheese, with some nice salame, or with a really good honey drizzled over chunks. He always has a good stock of this on hand, and uses it on and with absolutely tons of things, when he's not just eating it by itself.
Vella's Dry Jack
One of the only aged jack cheese still being produced in the US, this is really buttery, smooth, nutty, and slightly sweet. Absolutely a marvel of a cheese. Kind of hard to find, but if you see it, grab some.
Gallery of aged hard cheeses
Cow milk cheeses
Raclette is a pungent salted cow's milk cheese. Note the cheese porn.
If you Google it, it'll look like raclette is more of a process than a cheese; you're supposed to heat one cut side until melty, then scrape off the melted cheese and smear it all over new potatoes, mushrooms, prosciutto, tomatoes...anything full of umami, really. Forums poster lepoulet finds it's much simpler just to throw some slices under a broiler until bubbly and serve with fingerling potatoes. Freakin' superlative.
One of forums poster Croatoan's favorite dessert cheeses is a slice of cream Havarti on shortbread cookies. This seriously has to be tried by everyone. It's awesome.
Gallery of cow milk cheeses
Goat milk cheeses
Capricho de Cabra
Capricho de cabra with a black pepper crust is simply amazing. It's very creamy, not crumbly at all. The tang is mellow but still there and the black pepper opens up your nose to really enjoy the full experience. This goes well on butter crackers served at room temperature.
They soak this goat cheese in Doble Pasta wine, which is a fresh batch of must (smashed grapes) over the lees (yeast slurry, grape skins, and pulp) from a previous batch, resulting in a really heavy red wine. This lends the cheese a deep red rind, and a faintly fruity taste, in addition to the usual goat tang.
Forums poster Plexiwatt has found the most delectable goat's cheese he's ever tasted: Dorstone, made by Charlie Westhead, who is apparently some sort of English goat cheese god. The internet says it's a Brit version of Chabis – unpasteurized, ash coated, vegetable rennet, a few weeks old, really creamy texture, with a funny peppery finish.
Gjetost or brunost
Gjetost/Brunost is a pretty tasty Norwegian whey cheese, although it's a little peculiar. It's got a sweet, caramelized taste.
Gallery of goat milk cheeses
Sheep milk cheeses
Boil up some angel hair pasta. Brown some butter to a light brown but not quite burned. top the pasta with the browned butter and grate a good bit of Myzithra and you have one of the best pastas ever.
This is a dry cheese. Treat it like feta and throw in on a salad. You won't like feta as much as you once did.
Gallery of sheep milk cheeses
Buffalo Milk Mozzarella
You can buy fresh buffalo mozzarella in USA/Canada that's suspended in whey, and it gets the taste right. The stuff without the whey is still good, it's just not quite the same taste, especially when its unmelted and hand-shredded in something like insalata caprese. Something about that raw texture and the mouthfeel of both stringy curds and the salty whey makes forums poster LoungieMu think of eating a bit of rare steak.
A Greek cheese with a similar flavor profile to feta. Can be grilled without melting. Usually made from a mix of sheep and goat milks; can sometimes also be found made from cow milk. Try it pan fried in a little butter, with some rosemary & garlic. You will swear you've died and gone to heaven. Or grilled with some lemon juice. Or freaking anyway you like it. It's the best. Also, another way is chunks of halloumi & eggplant, breaded, stuck on a skewer and deep fried. Good lord almighty.