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Old 12-10-2011, 07:18 AM   #31
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I saw an episode from Andrew Zimmern's show, Appetite for Life (he of the strange palate and cast iron stomach). It was "Wing it at Blind Willie's" Blues Club in Atlanta, putting together blue cheese wing dip. Andrew said the cheese "smells like God's toes."

No matter how simple it seems, it's complicated.
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Old 12-10-2011, 10:56 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by PrincessFiona60 View Post
At the deli ask for a taste of any cheese. They will give you a slice, hold it on your hand until your body heat warms it a bit. Smell it, cold and warm. Then taste a small piece, roll it on your tongue. Most cheese should be eaten at room temperature. This taste test will let you see how it tastes slightly warm and if you even like it.

I'm a cheese pig...
Thank you Fiona, I've always avoided most cheeses for the same reason I avoided most wines. I didn't know enough about them to make an educated purchase.

I'll have to try your suggestion at my local deli. They all know me well and will let me test taste anything. I buy my Antipasto there. They make an awsome one!

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Old 12-10-2011, 12:15 PM   #33
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Cheddar, semi-hard cheese either dyed yellow with natural food dyes, or presented white. Young cheddar (cheddar cheese curds) is squeeky and mellow, with just a hint of the flavor that comes with aging.

Mild cheddar - aged about 6 months, has a very mild acidity (acids give cheese both the curd to turn into cheese, and a slightly sour flavor, and is for people who are just starting to learn about cheese.

Medium Cheddar - usually aged for about 2 years. The acidity has increased, and the cheese has developed a more pronounced and complex flavor. You can taste some of the salt, the acids, and other flavors of the cheese.

Sharp Cheddar - aged 3 or more years. At this stage, the cheese has lost enough moisture to evaporation that the calcium and salts found in the milk have begun to crystallize. They provide a pleasing, soft crunch every now and again. The flavor is intensified and even more complex. It is when cheddar starts to become an amazing cheese. I adore 5 year aged cheddar by a company called Balderson Cheese out of Canada. Their product is award winning, litterally.

Colby - another semi-hard cheese that is always sold medium. It has a flavor similar to cheddar, but is creamier and is wonderful as a snacking, or cooking cheese.

Monterey Jack - a little softer than colby, and always sold white. It is a lightly salty cheese with just enough acidity to make the flavor interesting. It's a great melting cheese and is often combine with colby by the manufacturer to make colby-jack cheese, which I'm not really crazy about. I love both of the cheeses by themselves though.

Muenster Cheese - A white cheese with an orange rind. This is another great melting cheese, but is wonderful as a snack cheese as well. It has a mild, milky flavor, with a delicate balance between the salt, acids, and dairy flavor. It is a great pizza cheese, and is good with fruit or covering veggies. It is one of my all time favorite mild cheeses.

Swiss Cheese - It's so hard to find a good swiss cheese any more. The stores seem to carry only baby swiss, which to me is nearly flavorless, and a waste of money. But if you can find an aged swiss, it is a firm cheese that is complex with hints of acid, sweetness, salt, and bitter, all rolled together to create what has been called nutty. A good Swiss cheese, like a good Parmesano REgiano, or Asiago is a truly wonderful thing. Purchase Swiss cheese from the deli, so you can get a sample. That way you won't spend your money on the tasteless Swiss Cheeses that flood the markets.

Gouda - Similar to Monterey Jack, but firmer in texture. It also has a better flavor in my opinion. Gouda seems to be one of those cheese that people like to add flavors to, expecially smoke. To me, this masks the wonderful, natural flavor of this classic cheese. I don't know anyone who doesn't like Gouda.

Elementeller - a kind of Swiss Cheese- but not so bold as an aged Swiss Cheese

Havarti - a great melting flavor with a rich, almost buttery flavor, again with that characteristic acidity of most cheeses. It is used to make various sauces, and is often mixed with cheddar and mozzarella to make macaroni and cheese. It's also great with strawberries, or made into fondue. It's a favorite.

Cottage Cheese - what can I say about this mainstay. It's great served up as a side dish, with fruit added, or on crisp lettuce leaves. It's great when blended into certain jello salad recipes, it makes a wonderful addition to pasta sauces, especially Marinara, and is very good in lasagna, and maincotti. It has a creamy texture, especially in the small curd varieties. But I like the larger curd cottage cheese, eaten straight up, as a side to my meal. Herbs and spices can be added to it, just as with cream cheese. In fact the flavors are similar. Love good cottage cheese.
Note of warning, some brands of cottage cheese, an I don't know the cause of this, can taste a little bitter. So try different brands. We have found that the 4% milkfat varieties don't seem to have the bitter flavor.

There are a thousand different cheeses out there. Some are hard, some are soft, most are somewhere in between. Each has a different flavor and texture that appeals to the taste buds of a hundred different people. I can't presume to tell you what cheeses are best for you. Personally, I'm not a fan of the Stinky Cheeses (yes, that is a category of cheeses). But then again, while I love a great aged cheddar, my DW loves the mild version.

And yes, the price isn't cheap for a great cheese. I have had 15 year aged cheddar that ran for $20 a pound. I have also had an amazing cheddar called Dorset Drum for IGoumet.com for $8 per pound. My favorite 5 year aged cheddar runs $15 per pound. And as I am very adventurous when it comes to food. One year, I bought 1 cheese variety that I'd never tasted before every pay day. This way, I could learn a great deal about cheeses without breaking the bank. Was it worth the money to explore this wonderful stuff we call cheese, you betcha. Now, with online cheese sellers, I'm no longer limited to only what I can find locally.

Just two more cheeses that I have to mention - Yancy's Fancy makes an incredible cheese called Bergenost. It is a semi-soft cheese with a wonderfully creamy texture, and amazing flavor. I have yet to try their XXX sharp cheddar, but it the quality is as good as with the Bergenost, it will be an exemplarary cheese indeed.

Like Bergenost, Butterkase cheese is wonderful. It is creamy, almost buttery in flavor and texture, with a medium sharpness. It is wonderful eaten with crackers, or on toast points, though I've been known to just slice off little bits to eat all by themselves. It is another delightful cheese that can be used so many different ways. It can be made into cheese balls, or combined with herbs, or wines of your choice. It melts into ooey-gooey goodness on grilled cheese.

Oh, one more, and I'm going to have to run and hide after this one, I love Velveeta Cheese product. It's not a true cheese, but a cheese product that melts wonderfully and adds great flavor to many other foods. There! I said it. I love Velveeta, and I'm not even ashamed. And though I dearly love a good Parmesano Regiano, or Pecorino Romano, I like that shaker parmesan/romano cheese that comes in the green, cardboard cans. It has a distinct flavor, and can be used as a somewhat salty seasoning. It has its place in my kitchen.

I hope this helps.

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Old 12-10-2011, 12:28 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by Chief Longwind Of The North View Post
Cheddar, semi-hard cheese either dyed yellow with natural food dyes, or presented white. Young cheddar (cheddar cheese curds) is squeeky and mellow, with just a hint of the flavor that comes with aging. ...

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Chief Longwind, please post this Cheese Primer in the Cooking Resources forum.

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Old 12-10-2011, 12:39 PM   #35
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Great primer, Chief! And I totally agree with your last paragraph about Velveeta et al. Thanks!
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Old 12-10-2011, 12:41 PM   #36
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I prefer milder cheeses. My current favorites are Muenster and Gruyere.

I grew up on domestic Muenster and still buy it and enjoy it. As I mentioned, the flavor is relatively mild but has a little tang to it. It melts very well. Mon used Muenster to make string cheese. Then one day, I tasted some real French Muenster and WOW! Someone had released my taste buds from captivity. I had tasted the real thing for the first time.

Gruyere is another generally available cheese from Switzerland. It has a mild but pronounced nutty flavor. It's the cheese of choice for French onion soup gratinée.
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Old 12-10-2011, 02:19 PM   #37
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Thanks for the primer!

I love almost all cheeses.

Timothy, if you like bleu, you can take cream cheese and bleu and make a spread. I don't have proportions. We used to make that all the time when I lived in Quebec City.

For a Swiss-type, I like Jarlsburg or St. Albert's Swiss. Which probably isn't available where you are. It is produced about 30 minutes from where I live, so whenever I pass through, I stock up.

I'm partial to Gjetost, but that is an acquired taste. I like it as a dessert cheese.

I love all Gouda--smoked, baby, all of it. Ditto Edam.

One of the things I do is grate cheese after it is opened (cheddar, colby, monterey jack) and freeze that for later use.

One thing I don't like is Canadian Cottage Cheese. I stock up whenever I go to the States. I do sometimes blend (in the blender) cottage cheese and milk to make "fake" sour cream.
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Old 12-10-2011, 03:02 PM   #38
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Thank you to all of you! You've expanded my knowledge of cheese immensely! Chief, don't feel bad, I think Velveeta has it's place in the meals of the world. Countless millions of people love and use Velveeta.
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Old 12-10-2011, 09:38 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by Timothy View Post
Thank you to all of you! You've expanded my knowledge of cheese immensely! Chief, don't feel bad, I think Velveeta has it's place in the meals of the world. Countless millions of people love and use Velveeta.
I'm sure that's true, but not everyone does. I don't know what it tastes like. I don't eat cheese that has that colour.
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Old 12-10-2011, 11:16 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by taxlady View Post
I'm sure that's true, but not everyone does. I don't know what it tastes like. I don't eat cheese that has that colour.
The immigrants in my town will only eat cheeses that are sold white. If it is colored, the younger folks buy it. Me, I am a white cheese person. Velveeta definitely has a place for our palates. It fed my children during their school years. I am not a food snob. To each their own. Land of Lakes orange cheese is a big seller in these parts. My supermarket sells the ends of the cold cuts and cheeses. I always look for the white LOL. Makes for a great mac and cheese base. At .99 a lb, compared to $2.99 for nice neat slices, I don't mind at all that it is the end piece.
For Parma and Romano, I always buy the imported. My girlfriend in Alanta, has paid as much as $25.00 a lb. I pay only $4.99 a lb. So every few months I send her a couple of good size pieces. She puts the piece of cheese right on the table with a small grater to impress her company. They can grate it themselves. She is not a food snob, just a showoff. I also gave her a small apothecary jar filled with whole nutmegs as a gift when I went to visit her. Because we have such a large immigrant population here in the Northeast, we get imported foods at a greatly reduced price.
The Tillamook Indians in Oregon make a great smoked cheddar cheese. Hard to find on the East Coast.
I find that American made cheeses are not aged long enough for me. Not enough flavor. But you don't make any profit with cheeses sitting on the shelf aging.

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