Cheese Tips

Choosing A Cheese

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  • Blue: Available in a variety of textures and flavors ranging from creamy to crumbly, there’s a blue for you. Because the styles of blue cheese vary so much, you could have a completely different experience tasting them based on their age, milk, and event the country of origin. Overall, the blue veining should be dominant in the cheese and fairly consistent throughout.
  • OUR FAVORITES: Roquefort, St. Agur.

 

  • Fresh: Since fresh cheeses are not aged, they should be eaten right away. They have no rind and a light taste and a color that depends on the milk from which they are made. Goat and sheep’s milk fresh cheeses should be white, and fresh cow’s milk cheeses will be off-white. All fresh cheeses should not have any yellowish tinges or mold and look uniform throughout. Overall, these cheeses will smell clean with very little aroma.
  • OUR FAVORITES: Chèvre, Fresh Mozzarella. 

 

  • Soft-Ripened: Quite possibly the most crowd-pleasing option when it comes to cheese, flavors can range from sweet and buttery to earthy and rich. They typically have a white, velvety rind with an off-white to ivory paste inside. Expect flavor cues ranging from buttery to grassy and a sensory intrigue due to a slightly chewy rind and ultra-creamy paste.
  • OUR FAVORITES: D’Affinois, Delice de Bourgogne.

 

  • Surface-Ripened: You’ll recognize a surface-ripened cheese by it’s wrinkly delicate rind. If they appear somewhat dry or even have mold, not to worry- it’s all part of the cheese! The mouthfeel may start off chalky but finish creamy and note the tangy and buttery flavor cues while you savor the cheese.
  • OUR FAVORITES: La Tur, St. Marcellin.

 

  • Washed Rinds: Washed rind cheeses are quite literally washed. Typically washed with a liquid whether it be booze or brine, it encourages bacterial growth to give them their distinctive orange rind and stinky smell. The stinkiest of them all, they may smell similar to dirty gym socks, but that’s a good thing! Generally, these cheeses are sold in small wheels or squares and feel tacky to the touch.
  • OUR FAVORITES: Epoisses, Taleggio.

 

  • Semi-Soft: Meltable and smooth, these cheeses are the perfect in-between if you’re not quite into a super aged gouda or gooey brie. Overall, these cheeses should be firm but still gives to the touch and have a medium with tangy or milky finish. The cheese should smell clean with very little aroma.
  • OUR FAVORITES: Doux de Montagne, Morbier.

 

  • Semi-Firm: Ideal for slicing, cubing, and snacking, these cheeses are dense with flavors ranging from sweet to nutty and everything in between. The color of these cheeses may range from ivory to orange with a few tiny eyes interspersed in the cheese. Typically there are more types of this style of cheese than any other in the store.
  • OUR FAVORITES: Twin Oaks Cheddar, Manchego.

 

  • Firm: With very little moisture, these are ideal for grating on pasta and other dishes but also make a great snack.These cheeses will have rinds that are hard as a rock with visible calcification crystals that look like salt crystals. A little inside lingo for identifying them- grana, stagionato, vecchio, and stravecchio.
  • OUR FAVORITES: Reggiano Parmigiano, Beemster XO Gouda

 

Serving Tips

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  • Always serve your cheeses at room temperature. Take them out of the refrigerator about an hour before serving.
  • For every 5 people you’re serving we recommend purchasing about 1/2 lb. of each cheese assuming you’ll be pairing it with other goodies. If cheese is all you’re serving aim for 3/4 lb. per cheese.
  • The ideal cheese board should include 3-5 cheeses. This is the perfect number because it gives you enough to play around with styles and flavors without overwhelming your guests.
  • Don’t be afraid to mix it up! Food is fun and is meant to be enjoyed. Choose cheeses for your board with a variety of milks (cow, goat, sheep, buffalo), origins (Italy, Spain, France, etc.), and textures.
  • Accessorize your cheese board with fruit, nuts, olives, crackers, and more. See below for more specifics on what pairs well together.

Pairing Guide

Pairing

  • Charcuterie: Serve a sweet sopressata or spicy salami alongside a Manchego or Pecorino or wrap thinly sliced prosciutto around fresh mozzarella or melons for a sweet treat.
  • Dried Fruit: Dried Fruits are the perfect companion to almost any cheese. Try sweet fruits such as dates and apricots to balance a salty cheese or cherries and figs alongside your favorite blue cheese.
  • Fruit: Grapes are our favorite when we want to add some freshness to our cheese boards, but try what’s in season whether it be berries or apples at your local farmer’s market. Almost anything will work, but stay away from citrus.
  • Nuts: Especially when serving softer cheeses, nuts can bring a much needed crunchy texture to your cheese board.
  • Olives: Olives can provide a colorful addition to your cheese board and add a pleasantly briny flavor in-between bites of cheese. They pair especially well with goats and sheeps milk cheeses. Don’t forget a bowl for the pits!
  • Pickles: Similarly to olives, pickles can add an acidic flavor to cut through the richness of cheeses.
  • Bread and Crackers: Balance out your cheeses with a cracker or toasty bread, but don’t feel like you always need carbs, some cheeses taste best on their own.
  • Chutney: Chutneys are a savory and tangy alternative to sweeter jams and jellies, perfect for cozy fall and winter evenings. We recommend pairing them with equally hearty cheeses such as an aged gouda or sharp cheddar.
  • Honey: Honey is especially elegant when drizzled over blue cheese for the perfect balance of sweet and salty.
  • Jam: Jam’s balance the flavors on your board in the same way that dried fruits do, but these are much more sweet. A sweet jam is perfect over a spreadable goat while fruit pastes such as membrillo or quince paste pair nicely with slices of sheeps milk cheese such as Manchego.

 

Cooking with Cheese

truffle mac and cheese

  • Your cheese should always be served or cooked at room temperature.
  • If you’re melting a large quantity of cheese for a sauce or fondue, add a starch (flour) and acid (wine) to prevent curdling.
  • A few of our favorite melting cheeses are Appenzeller, Asiago Fresco, Havarti, Italian Fontina, Manchego, Mozzarella, Raclette, and Twin Oaks Cheddar, just to name a few. Try them out in omelets, on pizza, or in a panini.
  • 4 oz. coarsely grated cheese = 1 1/4 cup
  • 2 oz. finely grated cheese = 1 cup
  • 4 oz. fresh cheese = 1 cup