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Having good food can make or break a party, but it can be hard to please every guest. One food that almost everyone can agree on is cheese. With so many varieties available, there's sure to be something for everyone. Choose the right foods to pair with it and you're well on your way to party success.
Soft cheeses are spreadable and will complement many different foods. One popular option is Livarot. It has a salty, nutty taste that goes great with apples or walnuts and can make a pretty spread when paired with these. Brie is also a crowd pleaser and can be paired with sweet pickles or baguettes. It is mild, creamy and slightly sour.
Hard and semi-hard cheeses have been aged for one month to four years. They are great for cooking and melting. Parmesan is readily available and its piquant, salty flavor pairs well with arugula or prosciutto. Emmental, more commonly known as Swiss cheese, is also easy to find. It has a fruity, nutty flavor that goes well with ham and apples.Read More
People have spent centuries perfecting the art of food. The small subtleties in different kinds of food can bring a whole new experience to the palette that adds even more enjoyment to food. Perhaps the best example of this is with regards to wine and cheese. Each comes in endless varieties, and the possibilities are even greater when they're paired together.
There are four basic types of cheese:
The flavors of wine and cheese can beautifully complement each other and many cheeses have been crafted for this specific purpose. It could take a lifetime to sample everything that wine and cheese have to offer. The best way to try different wine and cheese combinations is to have a party! With so many options available, there's bound to be something for everyone. Choose a few combinations that feature your favorite varieties and share this gourmet experience with your friends. Below are some popular wine and cheese pairings.Read More
Like cheese from many other European countries, the 100 or so different varieties of cheese from Spain can be categorized by the regions where they are produced. They are further classified as having a light, medium or strong flavor. Some cheeses from Spain are recognized as having a Protected Denominations of Origin (DO) and each is unique in its own way.
Manchego - This cheese is named after the province made famous by Don Quixote, La Mancha. It is made from ewe's milk and has a sweet, mild flavor. It was originally made to provide durable food for shepherds.
Murcia Al Vino - This somewhat fatty cheese is made from goat's milk and has a creamy, elastic texture. Its flavor is enhanced by a rind that has been rubbed with light red wine.Read More
Bulgaria may be a small country but it is bursting at the seams with good things to eat. Bulgarians are known for cooking fresh, organic dishes using the best ingredients. Cheese is a great addition to almost any meal and Bulgaria is home to some of the best varieties available. Gourmet chefs all over the world love using the delicious cheeses that originate in Bulgaria.
Kashkaval is a popular Bulgarian cheese made from sheep's milk. It is a semi-hard yellow cheese that comes in several variations ranging from bland to spicy. It is used in all aspects of Bulgarian cuisine, including cooking because it melts nicely. It can have a pungent taste similar to bleu cheese, even though it's not a moldy cheese.Read More
When you hear the term “American cheese,” you probably think of the processed, yellow slices that are popular among toddlers. But the truth is, there's a whole variety of delicious gourmet cheeses made right here in the U.S. You've probably heard of many of them and there are a few that most people eat on a regular basis.
Most American cheese is made in either California or Wisconsin. Aside from the more popular commercially produced varieties of cheeses that come from the U.S., there are a wide variety of artisan cheeses produced by local dairies across the country. They can be purchased from local grocers, at farmer's markets, or straight from the dairies where they're made.
Monterey Jack cheese is a semi-hard, white cheese that originated in Monterey, California, back when that was still part of Mexico. It was later sold commercially by a California businessman by the name of David Jack, who gave it its name. When spicy peppers are added, it is referred to as Pepper Jack cheese. Monterey Jack cheese is commonly paired with another American cheese, Colby, to make a semi-hard marble called Colby-Jack.Read More
In France, cheese is an art form, and there is a rather heated debate regarding the pasteurization of cheese. Some assert that pasteurized cheese is superior, while others contend there is no difference where taste and quality are concerned between pasteurized and raw cheese.
Unpasteurized cheese, referred to as raw cheese, is made from milk that has not been pasteurized (heated to a temperature above 145° F). This allows the natural bacteria present in raw milk to continue to grow. Many cheese enthusiasts feel that this makes the cheese more flavorful and authentic.
Because of FDA regulations, it is illegal to sell unpasteurized cheese in the United States unless the cheese has been aged for at least 60 days. After this amount of time, harmful bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli will die off, making the cheese safe for consumption. This means that raw cheeses that are meant to be consumed before 60 days of aging, such as Brie and Reblochon, are not sold in the U.S. Pasteurized versions are available, but these tend to be milder and less authentic.Read More
France is home to so many types of cheese, it can be a little overwhelming to keep track of them all. Luckily, the French have developed a classification system of eight groups to help sort things out. Even if you tried a new kind of French cheese every day, it would still take you more than a year to try them all. Les huit familles des fromage (the 8 families of cheese) can steer you in the right direction when choosing French cheeses.Read More
Cheese is big business in Switzerland, where they produce over 180,000 tons of cheese each year. Most of it is produced in small, local dairies and only 1/3 of that cheese is exported to other countries. Different regions in Switzerland are known for different types of cheeses and you could make a career out of traveling around the country, eating to your heart's content. If taking an actual cheese tour of Switzerland isn't convenient for you, here are some of the highlights you can try right in your own home.
Commonly known as Swiss cheese, Emmentaler comes from the Emme river valley region. It has been produced since the 12th century and has been perfected over time. It is most easily recognized by the holes, or eyes, that are formed by carbon dioxide bubbles that are released during the late stages of production.Read More
There are two types of Gloucester cheeses, double and single, though the exact reason for the names are under some debate. Single Gloucester was used from milk that had been skimmed once. It is a flat, disc shaped hard cheese. Double Gloucester has a light orange hue that was originally caused by the cows eating summer grass high in carotene, but is now more commonly the result of the addition of annatto. It was made with milk from the evening milking with the addition of cream from the morning’s milking.
Lancashire cheese was traditionally made by farmer’s wives in the county of Lancashire. The small farms often did not produce enough surplus milk to make a whole cheese and there was no refrigeration to preserve the milk, so the surplus was generally made into curd and stored overnight to be mixed with milk and curd from the next day. Lancashire cheese can be produced to be creamy, rich, or crumbly.Read More
It is estimated that England produces more than 700 types of cheese, more than any other country in the world. The most famous English cheese is cheddar, but it is also well known for several other varieties. We’ll talk about cheddar in another post, but here is an overview of some of the other delicious English cheeses.
(Want to try these out for yourself? Shop our selection of English cheeses!)
Caerphilly is a crumbly cheese similiar to Cheshire, young Lancashire, and Wensleydale. It originated in a South Wales mining town of the same name. It became popular among the mine workers because its tough coat made it easy to eat with dirty hands and the salty flavor helped replace the minerals lost sweating away in the mine.Read More
Cheddar is the most popular cheese in the United Kingdom, accounting for 51% of cheese sales, and is the second most popular cheese in the United States. It can be paired with a good bottle of wine, or melted between two rustic pieces of bread for a delicious grilled cheese sandwich.
Though today it is made worldwide, cheddar cheese originated in England, taking its name from the caves in Cheddar, in the county of Somerset. The constant temperature and humidity of the caves provided a perfect environment for the cheese to mature. The caves also give the cheeses a slightly earthy taste.
The town of Cheddar also developed a unique process for cheese making, where the slabs of curd were turned and piled on top of each other to help dray the whey and stretch the curd. This process is unique to cheddar cheese and creates a hard cheese with a firm body.Read More
Though feta is the most well known Greek cheese, it is by no means the only one. As we mentioned in our previous article, cheese is an important part of Greek life and cuisine, so it is no surprise that there are many varieties, each with their own taste and characteristics.
Cheese making is a matter of regional pride and many of the cheeses listed below bear the name of the town or region where they are made. This is just a brief overview of some of the characteristics of some of the Greek cheeses. But don’t take our word for it; buy some Greek cheese to try out for yourself!
Anthrotiros is made from whey from sheep and goat milk. It has been made in Greece for many centuries. Fresh Anthotiros is soft and mild, suitable as a table cheese or in cheese pastries. Dried Anthotiros is hard and salty with a rich flavor and is often used grated.Read More
According to their mythology, the ancient Greeks were given the gift of cheese-making from Aristaios, the son of the gods Apollo and Cyrene. From its divine beginnings, cheese has continued to be a cherished part of Greek cuisine. Greeks eat more cheese per capita than any other European nation, averaging almost 59 pounds of cheese per year per person.
Greek cheese can be served alone, as an appetizer, fried, raw, fresh with fruit and honey, and as part of a myriad of dishes. Most Greek cheeses are made from sheep or goat milk, and are consequently whiter in color than cheeses from cow’s milk.Read More
Italian hard cheeses have a rich intense taste. They have less moisture and a longer shelf life than softer varieties. As cheese ages, it becomes firmer and more pungent, so hard cheeses tend to have a very strong taste. Hard cheeses are often crumbly and are commonly used grated on top of pasta dishes.
Parmigiano Reggiano is a granular cheese produced in the central Italian regions of Parma and Reggio Emilia. Its French name, parmesan, is more frequently used by English speakers to refer to this cheese, though the bland parmesan cheeses sold in cans in America has little resemblance to true Italian Parmigiano Reggiano. Parmigiano Reggiano is pungent and salty. It adds a dynamic flavor when grated on top of salads, pastas, and pizzas. The best varieties are aged for 2 years for optimal texture and flavor.
Grana Padano derives its name from the Italian words “grana” (grain) and “Padano” (referring to the Po River), referring to its distinctive grainy texture and the region where it originated. It is slowly cooked and ripened for up to 18 months, giving it a delicate, nutty flavor. Many athletes believe that eating Grana Padano is a quick way to restore energy levels after strenuous exercising; since it has been ripened over a long period, the body can quickly use its energy.
Italian semi-soft and semi-hard cheeses have a stronger flavor and firmer texture than the soft cheeses but are not as dry and crumbly as hard cheeses.
Semi-soft cheeses have more moisture than harder cheeses, but a longer shelf life than the soft cheeses. They are good for snacking and desserts and some can be used in cooking.
Semi-hard cheeses are pressed to remove moisture and when fresh are generally not hard and crumbly but they do become firmer, more pungent, and crumbly as they age. They are often paired with fruit and wine or served on cheese trays with crackers. They can be cooked without becoming rubbery or oily and have a longer shelf life than softer cheeses.Read More
Italian cheeses are recognized world-wide for their quality and flavor. Each cheese has a unique flavor influenced by the type of milk, how the cheese is made, and how old the cheese is. Hard cheeses are strong and robust, while Italian soft cheeses have a more subtle taste and are particularly adaptable for a variety of uses because of their creaminess and relatively high moisture content.
Italian soft cheeses – such as ricotta, mozzarella, gorgonzola, and mascarpone – are best used fresh to retain their flavors and moisture. When ordered from gourmet distributers, measures are taken to ensure freshness upon arrival. Ordering via the internet makes it easier than ever to buy cheese from reputable cheese mongers and dairies and have it shipped directly to your home.
Italian soft cheeses rarely stand alone. They are excellent spread on crackers or bread and truly shine in recipes that draw on their unique characteristics.Read More