Cheese Glorious Cheese II

It’s been a while in coming, but here is the second installment in my Ode to Cheese. Way back in Chapter One, I promised we could cover Ricotta Salata, Feta, fresh Motz and Cotija- but since I’m on a stinky-cheese bender at the moment, those are a little too young for the current vibe.

Fresh in cheese lingo doesn’t necessarily mean young- In cheese-speak, a young cheese is one that has not been aged for more than a few weeks. A cream or cottage or even some Brie, is a young cheese An 18 month old Regianno is a fresh cheese, but not a young one. See?

Some basics for the cheese-lovers among us: Serve your cheese at room temperature- the flavors are muted and the textures are incorrect when the cheese is cold from the icebox. Oh, and on that note, never freeze your cheese (yes, there are a few varieties that can handle it, but not many, so for the sake of ease, just make it a big no-no).  Start your cheese eating with the mildest, youngest cheeses you have chosen, moving to the stronger and more aged varieties.

If at all possible, buy your cheeses from a cheese-monger. Almost without fail, the cheese at the large markets are mass-produced and sealed in plastic wrap. Plastic wrap doesn’t allow your cheese to breathe, and cheese is a living thing; the mold and cultures that give each specimen it’s unique taste and texture do not fare well in an oxygen-free environment. That said, have your cheese cut fresh from the larger chunks at your mongers, and usually wrapped in waxed paper or a special cheese paper- it protects them from too much oxidation, but allows them to breathe too.

Purists do not accompany the cheese with anything, which is fine, but it’s also fine to have some grain crackers or chewy bread to pair. If you really want to go all out, or if you are just dipping your toe into the fine cheese world, pear slices or grapes with some pecans or other fine nut can be a nice accompaniment and cut the flavor of some of the more pungent varieties.

Today, it’s all about Stilton. Mmmmm. My mouth tingles just thinking about it- Stilton is a complex little symphony in your mouth. How something can be creamy, pungent, sweet, rich and mellow all at once, I will never understand, but Stilton achieves the impossible. Two things about Stilton- save it for the last cheese you are eating, and don’t eat the rind. Some rinds are meant to be eaten- Stilton is not one of them.

Stilton is still made exclusively in Britain, in the counties of Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire from local milk.  Only seven dairies, using the original centuries-old recipe, are licensed to produce the cheese. It is the only British cheese graced with its own certification trademark.

Lighter than Gorgonzola, richer than Danish blue and more intense than regular blues, Britain’s Stilton is meltable, and it’s full-rounded qualities, if you’re not a purist, can enliven salads, meat, vegetable and fruit dishes.

Personally, I like it straight, with only a cracker or a hearty sliver of bread to carry the flavor. This isn’t a cheese for the faint of heart, but if you like strong cheese, this one may make you faint with delight!

12 thoughts on “Cheese Glorious Cheese II

  1. I’m a lurker here – but something about a cheese discussion has made me need to chime in. My name is Jolene and I am a cheese lover.

    I lived in France for 18 months. Cheese in France is sacred. Although I will admit here on this blog only that I love Stilton, no Frenchie would ever admit to tasting a British cheese as all French cheeses are superior. I crave the French cheeses of my mission.

    Some cheeses you really have to acquire a tast for – I wasn’t real keen on all of the goat and sheep cheeses at first – especially when I found out that the liquid some of them were floating in at the cheese monger was goat urine.

    In Provence – where I served – one of the most beautiful cheeses to eat and smell and behold is called Thym Tamarre or Chevre Figue. The goats are put to pasture in herb fields of thyme, rosemary, oregano and other herbs. Then the cheese is wrapped in fig leaves with sprigs or lavender and thyme stuck in. It is delicious!

    This is really making me trunky for some cheese!

    Vive La Fromage!!

  2. Hi Jolene! Welcome! Whoa, serving in Provence- that would be awesome! Although, cheese-lover that I am, I think I might pass on the goat stuff- never heard of that…

    I’m going to have to look for Chevre Figue- sounds awesome!

  3. One of the cheeses I picked yesterday was a chevre, it had lavender and fennel. Delish!!! Almost a little tangy or fruity in the aftertaste, smooth, fabtastic. I recommend you try it!

  4. A cheese-monger… how does one go about locating one of those? I admit that I know nothing about cheese… that means I have eaten a total of 5-8 different cheeses… all of them the boring same old stuff that most Americans toss in their diet… except American cheese. I do know that isn’t real cheese. It’s yellow rubber. Maybe we will have a cheese tasting party for New Years :)

  5. Melissa- google _fine cheese_ and your city, and see what comes up. That’s how the Mo Mommy’s came up with a monger in our city.

    A cheese tasting new years- I can’t think of a better way to do it! Can I come over??

  6. Wow! You should really send your post to Wikipedia or something, this was a really great, informative article!

    I admit, I am a bit faint of heart when it comes to the zip-zap zingy cheeses. My brother in law (also served a French Mission) purchased several wonderful cheeses that were served at dinner on Christmas Day. I had no idea there was an order to eating cheese! It’s like good skincare, start with the liquid serum and after it is absorbed fully into the skin apply your richer creams. I totally get it!

    Is anyone here a fan of the movie “Babette’s Feast?” It is my all time favorite movie.

  7. Tracy, I just tried googling “fine Cheese” and Chuck-e-cheese popped up!
    Fine cheese my big toe, oh well I’ll have to try again, becasue now I’m craving some yummy cheese.

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  9. So…I bought a bit of Stilton at Trader Joe’s the other day. They only had fruit-studded kinds, so I chose apricot. It’s yummy, but crumbly. Is it supposed to crumble? We put it back in the package and looked at it a few more days before we tried it. It was much mellower than I was anticipating.

  10. Yes, older cheese often crumble, and Stilton is no exception. It’s crumbly AND creamy. I haven’t had the apricot kind, but it sounds interesting. It IS milder than a lot of people expect- a strong goat cheese is stinkier than a Stilton.

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