Cheese, Glorious Cheese.

After that last post, I need to write about something super, something wonderful, something I really love- CHEESE! Some people need their caffeine, some need chocolate or carbohydrates or re-runs of The Gilmore Girls- not me. I need cheese.

A few years ago, the California Lottery ran a series of television commercials in which the camera shows the point-of-view of the lottery winner. A male (presumable from the voice-over) lottery winner walks in to a fabulous specialty cheese store, and gazes around silently, taking in the multitudinous cheeses, zooming in on the piles and stacks and wheels and freshness- then the voice-over says “Wow. I could totally afford all this cheese!” that’s it. That’s the whole commercial. And I know how he feels- if I won the lottery (if I played the lottery) I would totally go buy “all that cheese”!

There is a restaurant near where I used to live, I suppose they are elsewhere too, but all it served was fondue. Fondue is food for the the gods- don’t even try and argue with me. A fantastically decorated restaurant, purple walls, gold drapery, velvet chairs, stars shining down, and little pots of bubbling cheese everywhere you looked. Heaven! I haven’t actually eaten there in almost six years, but I still recall it with vividity and love. DH took me there for our first anniversary, and he gave me a string of pearls over dinner (very sweet), but what I really loved was eating cheese for dinner.

I love all cheese- as long as it’s real cheese. From the mild and easy to eat motzarella fresca, to the pungent and die-hard-only aged Stiltons. I’ve even imbibed in the dreaded cartoon stinker, Limburger, and while it’s not my favorite, it wasn’t bad. Few things are more euphoria inducing than walking into a good cheese-monger’s shop. Monger- even the word connotates one who covets. No one else is a monger- only those who love cheese. So here are three of my very favorites, although it’s a little unfair, since I have never met a cheese I don’t like.

Maytag Blue- oh, I love blue cheese. The pungent veins and the crumbly to creamy texture- the blue cheeses are a surprisingly diverse group- far more varied than the chunks you might get in your salad dressing (those are good too, though). The Stiltons are a group unto themselves, and there are the gorgonzola’s and the Roquefort- also a breed apart- and divine. But for a strait-up blue cheese, the American Maytag is the best. Pungent enough, but very creamy, melts in your mouth. Give it to me with a ripe pear and some pecans- oh, heaven! Just skip the stuff in the aseptic packages at your market- cheese has gotta breathe, and a monger is where you go for Maytag.

Aged Dry Vello Jack- hard to find, but oh so worth it! This aged Jack cheese is fabulous, and while fresh Jack is mild and creamy and wonderful for melting, the aged stuff transmogrifies into a new animal. Buttery and intense, the wheels are coated in cocoa and oil for the aging process, so your fresh cut wedge will have a chocolate rind- sounds weird, but it’s divine. The cheese has the texture of any hard, aged cheese- crumbly and crystallized. Yum! I don’t know how or what you would cook with it, but I recommend bringing it to room temp, and just eating slivers.

The Undisputed King of all Cheeses: Parmigianno Regiano. If you have never had this, do yourself a favor- save up ten bucks and go buy a sliver. You will never buy the stuff in the green can again. A good, aged cheese has something remarkable happen to it: the sugars from the milk crystallize as it ages, and when you eat it, the crystals give the cheese an ever-so-slight crunch. It is marvelous, and cannot be replicated- only produced with care and time. There are many domestic companies making parmigianna type cheeses, but Regianno, like champagne, can only come from one region of Italy, made by one group of cheese makers with milk from cows from one area only- and it may sound extreme- but the taste really cannot be copied. Try it. Please, for your taste buds, try it.

Up next time: Ricotta Salata, Cotija, Sheep milk Feta, and fresh pulled Motzarella. I’m drooling.

8 thoughts on “Cheese, Glorious Cheese.

  1. Oooh, you’ve got me all excited now. (Another reason I’m excited to move to Philadelphia is that there will be more than one place within reasonable driving distance where I can buy such pieces of heaven).

    Yeah for “cheesy” happy thoughts! It’s so nice to hear you speaking positively about food.

  2. I’m with you on the Parmiagianno Regianno (however it’ spelled). So good! I haven’t tried most of the other stuff you talk about, but I’m willing to go for it.

    The only cheese I’ve tried and haven’t liked is goat cheese. Too gamey or something.

  3. I’m not too big of a fan of cheese, but I like it. Although I haven’t tried very many kinds of fancy cheeses. I love the “California, It’s the Cheese” commericals. “Good cheese comes from happy cows. Happy cows come from California.” LOL

  4. Funny you should write about this when I was instant messaging my SIL about her birthday dinner at a place called “The Melting Pot” From what she says they have a few in WA too. You should google it and check it out. Probably not the same ambiance as La Fondue, but fondue none the less. Good luck!

  5. So your telling me there’s better cheese then my pre-packaged, block-cut, generic-brand, sharp-cheddar cheese???

    I have yet to experience the real world of cheese.

  6. Goat cheese is definately an aquired taste, especially in it’s raw, or unaged, form- how we mostly eat it here. When you get into some of the firmer cheeses, they are less gamey. My DH swears goat cheese must taste like sweaty goat teat…!

    Sheep cheese on the other hand- mmmmm. Try hard aged sheep milk Peccorino Romano- tiny crystals just like Regiano, but more salty, and less expensive. One of my favorites.

  7. My current favorite is an Irish cheese called Dubliner. It is heaven with a fugi apple or a nice cracker. Good cheese comes at a high price though, I just bought a slice of parm regi at costco and it set me back $18.00, but the taste is worth it and a little goes a long way.

  8. i’m totally on board with the cheese loving. i have to say, my favorite cheese is mozarella di buffalo. nothing can top it. have you been to leavenworth? there’s a cheesemonger shop there. i was in it for probably 45 minutes.. better than a candy store.

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