Cheese: What’s in Your Basket?

People, we already know I’m a bonafide caseophile (thanks for the word, Mo!). But it dawned on me this morning, as I ran into the market before dropping Abby at school, that even living life as a poor student, I opt to spend my meager budget on things others might find superfluous. I bought Abby some butternut squash soup, fine cheese for me, and a small bunch of tulips for our souls.

When I got home I was distracted, but when I finally got around to unpacking the groceries, I realized my bouquet of cheese made me easily as happy as my bouquet of tulips. And I love tulips. Today in my cheese basket (and I really do have a linen-lined wicker basket in my fridge in which I keep all my treasured cheese-that little flippy door -thing or the drawer are just not good enough for a raw French washed rind lavender, or a true Cottswald Stilton.) what was I saying? Oh yeah- today in my basket:

  • Boursin. A staple, and I have to hide it from Abby or she will eat the whole thing. Herb and garlic soft French cheese.
  • Cottswald Cheddar- not to be confused with the divine Stilton. Cottswald cheddar is made in the same region, but not a blue, and very mild and soft. A young-ish cheese, excellent with a cured sausage or apple slices.
  • Jasper Hill Raw Oma- a stinky little cheese, and a new player in the basket. We’ll see how this goes.
  • Raclette- excellent melting cheese from France again. Slightly pungent- a good gateway cheese if you’re timid.
  • Aged Gouda- a completely different cheese than a young Gouda- it’s sharp and crystallized and very similar to Regianno, the undisputed king of cheese. I will eat this forever. Also similar to Vela Dry Jack.
  • Myzithra- a hard, white greek cheese. Salty and somewhat akin to feta. Some people have only experienced this tossed with brown butter at The Spaghetti Factory. It’s good that way- buy some and give it a try.
  • Chevre- basic young soft goat cheese. Slightly pungent- mild. Use it on everything from roasted veggies to fried eggs to arugula salad greens. A perennial favorite.
  • Cotija- very similar to feta, only drier- Mexican cheese, fantastic on all latin foods calling for cheese- once you try it, you’ll never go back to pre-shredded jack and cheddar.
  • Ricotta Salata- a firmer ricotta that can be grated. Very mild and kids like it.
  • Bleu d’Avergne- a fine stinky blue veined French masterpiece. Don’t start here, but if you dig blues, have it with some almonds and maybe a very tart apple, and die happy.
  • Fontina- a great Italian melting cheese. Good to just eat, or melt divinely into whatever italian thing you’re making.
  • Cream cheese- it’s Philly today, but if I could find Gina Marie, that’s my CC of choice.
  • Tillamook Slices- for the kids. I know. But at least its not pre-wrapped american cheese…
  • Grated Regianno/Romanno blend- yes, its better to buy it in whole hunks, but it’s also a budget killer, so when I find it cheap at Trader Joes, I buy the already-grated. Kids love it.
  • Beechers Curds- snack food extraordinaire. Jeffrey jumps for joy when the market has these.
  • Colston Bassett Stilton- the finest blue on the planet.

Also in the basket, but not cheese:

  • Kerrygold Irish butter- yes, it really is that much better. Thick, unctuous, sweet, spectacular- I don’t use this for baking or cooking, but for spreading on things when you really want to taste fine butter.
  • Calabrese Salame- yum!
  • Pancetta- for getting many a dish started with gusto and pig fat- without the smokiness of bacon.
  • Apple cured thick-cut peppered bacon- well, because you can never be without bacon.

I just want to encourage you to get out there and try something new. There is a whole world of tastes and divine things to experience outside the big-box markets… it doesn’t have to be cheese- but my challenge for this year (not a resolution, mind you!) is to just push your own experiences a little further. Think outside the safe and familiar and give yourself a chance to find the extraordinary. Maybe it’s a fine cheese, or a new flower in your garden, or being more daring with your eyeliner… I don’t know. But do something new and fun, and see where it takes you.

For me? I started school again this week, which is why I’ve been so absent. I’ve already dropped and added two new classes and think it’s finally settled. Taking my first grad-level courses, despite not being done with my bachelors yet- and I’ve made the Dean’s List for the second straight quarter with a 4.0 gpa. Life is good. Go buy some cheese.

17 thoughts on “Cheese: What’s in Your Basket?

  1. One day I will take you to england and you will stand in the cheese aisle in the grocery store ( a regular store) and you will weep. And they sell most in very small servings so you can always buy fresh, and you can try lots of different ones. Off to buy some cheese.

    • I’d love to take off to England with you Bek! (we get to go sans kids, right??!) I haven’t been to England in longer than I care to count. Kids really put the kaibash on my traveling.

  2. My favorite cheese is a Nor Cal special – Humboldt Fog – if you haven’t come across it yet, make sure to look for it next time you visit your family. I’m also a huge fan of Petaluma Creamery’s quark – it’s delicious and divine.

    Congrats on excelling with your courses.

    …I’ll keep my eye out for Cottswald Cheddar – it’s a new to me but sounds good.

    • Humbolt Fog is DIVINE. One of my favorites. If you haven’t tried it, find Port Townsend Creamery and buy the Seastack. If you like HF, you love Seastack!

      I’ve heard of the quark, but haven’t had it yet. Now I really want to find it!

  3. I am salivating right now! I have always been a cheese lover, but it only intensified after I met my sweetie (who served a mission to France) and we became cheese snobs together. My recent discovery: Aldi stocks a knock-off Rondele that is pretty darn yummy in a huge tub for $2.99. I’m proud that my kids know what brie is and ask for it regularly. :o) Raclette we’ve had a few times. (Do you have a raclette machine or can you share a recipe for raclette?)

  4. Bfast today was brie and sharp peppered cheddar and crackers. I have Irish cheddar, Boursin, mzythra, chevre in the fridge right now. That means I am low on supply. I usually pick up two or three cheeses, smoked salmon, really good bread, and fruit to have on hand for date nights at home or unexpected guests. Can’t wait for spring when the downtown farmers market is open and the local cheese makers are out in force.

  5. I love boursin and I sympathize with your abby. I lived in Holland for awhile and fell in loved with the aged gouda. My favorite part was right next to the rind. Sometimes I caress the gouda at costco and wish that I could bring myself to pay $15 for cheese. But melted gouda on good bakery bread is something I could eat every day forever and never get tired of. You made me hungry.

  6. I know we’ve never met and that we only know each other through Segullah and our WA state commonality, but I am now convinced we should be best friends. I could live off of good cheese, good bread, good salami, and good butter for the rest of my life. I miss Tillamook cheese — you can’t get it out here.

    Have you ever tried Boursin stuffed in mushroom caps, dipped in buter and baked? Yum.

    • Yummm! Boursin stuffed mushroom caps sounds divine! And I feel the same way, Andrea… we need to meet IRL. Can I mail you some Tillamook? I’d be happy to if you want!

      • Thanks Tracy! I hope you can come to the Segullah retreat this year. It would be lovely to hug you in person. I think sending Tillamook to FL might be difficult. We’re going out to visit my parents in Richland in March, and I might bring a brick back with me!

  7. I found your blog linked to Segullah. I don’t know you, but can tell we’d get along. Anyone who likes all those cheeses and pancetta has got to have something special about her! I made Paneer yesterday (Uber-basic Indian cheese made from whole milk and lemon juice to curdle it) and we battered and cooked it up today for an appetizer. Yum!

  8. This blog post was sent to me recently and I couldn’t be happier. I, too, am a lover of cheese and am constantly on the lookout for new recommendations.

    Very well written post! I’m off to the store!

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