Thursday, June 6, 2013

This 'n That Thursdays: Cheese, Glorious Cheese!

From The Cheese Store of Cedarhurst

This past Tuesday was National Cheese Day.  Since cheese is one of my favorite foods, I decided that today's post would be all about the cheeses I love most.  I tend to prefer hard cheeses to soft, and nutty cheeses to creamy or sharp ones.  Swiss-type cheeses top my favorites list, but there are so many varieties of cheese available that they are by no means my only choice.  Here is the list of my current obsessions, but there are still quite a few I have yet to try, so this list could change tomorrow!

1) Jarlsberg Cheese

From Springbank Cheese Co.

This Baby Swiss-type cheese will always be my favorite.  I discovered it when I was an undergraduate college student in upstate New York, and for me it is still the perfect cheese.  It has a sweet, nutty flavor and firm texture that I find irresistible, and it even comes in a "Lite" form that is practically indistinguishable from the original.  I have yet to try the smoked version, but I am sure I would love it since I love other smoked cheeses.

My only problem with Jarlsberg is that it is made in Norway, one of only three countries that continue to defy a 1986 International Whaling Commission ban on commercial whaling (the other two countries are Japan and Iceland).  For this reason, I rarely eat my favorite cheese any more, maybe only once every couple of years.  If you knew just how much I adore this cheese you would understand what a sacrifice this is for me, but to me preserving healthy whale populations is much more important than indulging in cheese, so until Norway stops killing whales I will continue to avoid this cheese.

2) Gruyère Cheese


Gruyère is authentic Swiss cheese, named for the town of Gruyères in Switzerland.  In general, it is a hard and nutty cheese, but the texture and flavor vary depending upon factors such as age, production season, and source.  It is an excellent cooking cheese, and is traditional in fondues and quiches.  It is also equally good eaten plain and pairs well with wines, especially red.  It can be expensive, but for me the flavor is worth the price, and it is a worthy substitute for Jarlsberg.

3) Tetilla Cheese

From La Tienda

This semi-soft, creamy cheese with the suggestive name from Spain is a recent discovery.  I received this oddly shaped cheese as a Christmas gift a few years ago, and have been hooked ever since.  It is especially good melted atop a really good bread such as Italian or French, or the Spanish Galician loaf if you can get it.  My source for this cheese (and for good Galician bread as well) is La Tienda, a catalog specializing in Spanish foods and other items.

4) Dill Havarti

From Boar's Head

Havarti is a semi-soft, buttery cheese from Denmark.  It comes in several flavor varieties, and I am especially fond of dill Havarti, which has flecks of dried dill weed throughout.  This is an excellent cheese to eat plain, with or without crackers.  There is also a caraway seed Havarti cheese that I like.  One variety that I have only found in upstate New York is Havarti with mustard seeds, which is another favorite.  It has been a while since I had this one, and think I am going to have to order some soon!

5) White Stilton with Lemon Peel

From Gourmet Food

White Stilton is an interesting cheese, made almost the same way as blue Stilton but without the introduction of the mold which causes the blue veining.  It is a dessert cheese, and usually has fruit bits added.  My favorite is the white Stilton with lemon peel.  Somehow the tart sweetness of the peel is the perfect foil for the sharpness of the cheese, and I enjoy this cheese plain.  There are other fruit-studded white Stiltons available (mango and ginger, blueberry, apricot, cranberry), but for me the lemon peel variety is far superior in taste.

6) Smoked Cheeses

This is not a single variety, but some cheeses are available smoked, and I find them to be delectable.  One favorite is the Maple Smoked Cheddar from The Vermont Country Store, which is not available in the summer but will be for sale again when the weather cools off.

From Smith'd

I also really like the Apple Smoked Gruyere from Red Apple Cheese, even though it is a processed cheese.

From Red Apple Cheese

Their Apple Smoked Provolone is good as well, and I would love to try their other smoked cheeses, which are not currently available in our local supermarkets.

This list is only a tiny sample of cheeses that I love -- a complete list would take up way too much space!  I once worked with a woman who had to give up cheese for health reasons.  Cheese is one of those foods that I would find difficult to stop eating, so I hope I never have to make a choice like that, because life without cheese would become a sorry existence indeed!

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