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September 14, 2010

Over Kaas
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:45 PM * 193 comments

It occurs to me that my intermittent discursions over life in the Low Countries have not yet touched on one of the matters of greatest importance to the local culture (as it were). Being as I am at relative leisure this evening, I thought it was time to rectify that, turning my attention to the vital topic of cheese.

And cheese◊ is an important part of life in the Netherlands. They eat it in toasties, put it on pancakes, and combine it with all manner of things, savory and sweet, in sandwiches. There’s even a turn of phrase about it: daar heeft hij geen kaas van gegeten, “he hasn’t eaten any cheese from there.” It means that the person knows little or nothing about a subject.

Thus is it extra-ironic that having eaten cheese from the Netherlands doesn’t mean you know about Dutch cheese. Everywhere else I’ve lived, the standard Dutch cheeses for sale are Edam and Gouda†‡. Edam has the red wax around it, and is milder and slightly more elastic; Gouda has yellow wax and is stronger in flavor. If one is very sophisticated, one may also be acquainted with Old Amsterdam, a strong cheese as crumbly as aged Cheddar. Most people know Limburger cheese only by reputation (it’s the one that smells like old feet).

Well, leave all of that at the border. (Except for the initial vowel sound of “Gouda”, which you will, if you please, retain lifelong and worldwide.) When you’re buying cheese in the Netherlands, that information is less than useless. Go into a supermarket and you will look in vain for a city name on the bulk of the cheese for sale.

The commonest Dutch cheeses are variations on the ubiquitous unstated Gouda§: jong (young), various sorts of belegen (mature) and oud (old). The Dutch Wikipedia article on kaas gives a handy chart of how long each variety of cheese is aged; it ranges from 4 weeks to a year and a half. Longer ageing gives a deeper color, a crumblier texture and a stronger flavor. Jonge kaas frequently has a green paper label on the wax coating. Belegen tends to have a blue label, and oude kaas a black one.

In addition to the varieties of Gouda, there are regional cheeses such as Edammer, Zaandammer, Maasdammer, and Leidse, usually sold at markets or (in supermarkets) the deli counter. They vary in taste, but are all near cousins of one another. What’s known as Limburger in the rest of the world is called Hervekaas in Dutch, named after the region where it originates (it’s also called stinkkaas.) Unpasteurized cheese is boerenkaas, farmer’s cheese.

There are also Gouda-style cheeses with any number of herbs in them, from cloves to fenugreek. Several of my former colleagues are fond of cumin in theirs. I think it’s an acquired taste; I never acquired it.

It’s also worth mentioning that, allowing for variations in taste, all of these cheeses are delicious.

◊ by which I mean cow’s milk cheese. There are some goat cheeses here, but they’re negligible.
† Note that the news has just come out today that these terms (with “Holland” appended) will be given protected status by the EU.
‡ whose first syllable is to rhyme with cow, not shoe*
* No, really, please learn this. “Goo-da” inspires many Dutch speakers with the strong desire to spoon your eyeballs out.
§ “Ubiquitous Unstated Gouda” is my next rock band name

Comments on Over Kaas:
#1 ::: Branko Collin ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 05:09 PM:

"Several of my former colleagues are fond of cumin in theirs. I think it’s an acquired taste; I never acquired it."

Have you tried it with marmite?

#2 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 05:22 PM:

I favour "Armour Piercing Cheddar" and "Weapons-Grade Stilton" both as cheeses and as rock band names. (The former is a nickname for some cheddar to a friend's special order - matured several times as long as the supermarket Extra-mature rubbish - it's not so strong that it has to be chained up, but it's getting there.)

#3 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 05:24 PM:

In Minneapolis, we've been able to get "aged Gouda" across the 2-9 year range. I was really startled; I think of "Gouda" as a boring plasticy cheese (because the cheap Gouda easily available in the USA IS rather boring, and I don't like its texture much either). But the best of the aged versions I've had are really wonderful, with a dry crumbly texture, and much of the richness and a bit of the bite of a first-rate Parmesan (not as hard, different flavor components, but going that direction an amount I would never have expected from the insipid ordinary Gouda sold here).

I suspect part of the trick is starting with something better than the ordinary Gouda sold here.

I grew up eating Limburger periodically; doesn't smell anything like old feet to me, but it did help prepare me to appreciate really ripe Brie, Pont le Vec, and other seriously ripened cheeses.

Mmmmm, cheese!

#4 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 05:29 PM:

Cadbury Moose@2: Love those names, for either use. And I'd probably love the cheeses as well.

My favorites so far are all white cheddars, and all North American. I've lately started occasionally encountering quite old cheddars (5+ years) that still taste insipid. This seems to be something that happens when an "extreme" taste becomes trendy; I've seen some signs of people breeding milder Habanero peppers as well (and I DO understand people who don't wnat to mess with the real thing; but there are plenty of other kinds of pepper, why not just use those?).

Wisconsin, famous in the mainstream for its cheddars, has not yet provided me with one that rises to mediocre (I understand there are some first-rate artisanal cheese-makers in Wisconsin, and no doubt some of them do actually make very fine cheddars as well as other good cheeses).

#5 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 05:30 PM:

What a friend we have in cheeses.

I tend toward venerable cheddar and a good assertive Stilton, but that oudekaas intrigues me; I hope I'll have a chance to try it sometime. My daughter, by contrast, is on a neverending search for plain Wensleydale. Lately we can only find it corrupted with cranberry or mango. (We owe a debt of gratitude to Nick Park, though, without whom we wouldn't be able to find it at all.)

#6 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 05:35 PM:

Mark@5: Thank you. As a non-Christian I never feel right making that joke, but I have an unreasonable fondness for it.

#7 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 05:46 PM:

I now need to feed that wikipedia page into google translate or something, because my Dutch is severely limited (at the "I think they're going on about cheese now" level.)

#8 ::: Daniel Klein ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 06:20 PM:

Foodwise, the thing I missed most after moving to Ireland was cheese. Cheeses, rather: the idea that there are different types of cheese. Germany isn't the BEST place for cheese, but there's a lot of variety, and I lived right next to the French border, so I could just dip over and peruse the decadent selection at the local Carrefour.

Ireland has cheddar, which is not cheese. Ask any immigrant about Irish food, and cheddar is one of the first topics that comes up. We're a thankless bunch, us immigrants. Cheddar grows on you, of course, and a proper mature cheddar can be spicy in interesting ways, but to my mind it's still not cheese.

Soda bread, however, is delicious.

#9 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 06:30 PM:

Now, to me, cheddar is the canonical cheese. However, I haven't had any English or Irish cheddars I thought were first-rate, all the ones I've tasted are pretty mild. (It's the canonical American cheese in general; not invented here, but enthusiastically naturalized, and the mainstream popular cheese-like substances down to (*spit*) Velveeta are pretty much debased forms of cheddar.) (The people where they invented Cheddar could claim a right to define it, and I'd take an alternate name for the stuff I like if there were one put forward; in the absence of those things, I make somewhat strange-sounding statements.)

Living in Zurich for two (disjoint) years and driving around the continent some with my parents in the distant past, I got a lot of good cheeses. I'm still a big fan of Gruyere and Appenzeller, and real Emmenthaler is a big step up from the usual "Swiss" cheese of the USA.

#10 ::: Lin D ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 06:36 PM:

abi, your ongoing comments regarding life in the Netherlands made the country very appealing to me.

This? I'm moving over as soon as I can afford/find a job/live on your couch.

#11 ::: Lin D ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 06:40 PM:

@5,6: My cantor friend has a magnet on her fridge that says "Jews for cheeses."

#12 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 06:57 PM:

Abi, our local high-end grocery chain (not Whole Paycheck but the Other Guys) has a fairly enthusiastic cheese section that goes nuts every year with the coming of Beemster's graskaas season. So good and creamy, for something you can slice.

That same store makes their own mozzarella, used for pizza and insalata caprese. (Right now, I have fresh basil that tastes like the whole spice cabiniet, Christmas section, and Hill Country tomatoes can be amazing.)

I like crumbling up white Stilton with ginger and/or apricot in it into salads; with most blue cheeses, such as gorgonzola and Roquefort, I love the taste but can get a bit of an allergic reaction, so I have them rarely, and only when there's someone about who can get me some medical attention should I need it (which so far I haven't, but you never know).

Otherwise, I'm a fan of Tillamook Sharp cheddar for everyday snackies, and the odd slice of Antico Pecorino Toscano, a rather salty sheep's milk number that's nowhere near as salty as its cousin, Pecorino Romano.

And of course, nothing like Parmegiano Reggiano, the King of Cheeses (acc. Mario Batali, anyway) for putting all over pasta or risotto.

#13 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 07:02 PM:

I assume that there's a linguistic link between kaas and "casein", milk protein. Common ancestor? The latter is apparently from the Latin caseus cheese.

#14 ::: Adam Ek ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 07:10 PM:

Cabot's Hunter Cheddar is my favorite, with a good Parmesan a favorite for seasoning other foods.

#15 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 07:17 PM:

Stinkkaas for Limburger cheese - I love it! Er, the word, not the cheese. My brother is the only one in my family who currently eats the stuff. He had the attitude of "Grandpa liked it, and I like everything else he liked, so it can't be that bad." Once my brother finally got past the smell, his roommates decreed that he must eat it outside. Hmm, perhaps this is part of why he hasn't had a roommate in many years...

My favorite method of discovering new cheeses is to go to Jungle Jim's* Cheese Shoppe and try out whatever is currently on sale. My latest find was a lovely applewood smoked cheddar. A mediumish cheddar, I think, but the smoking did lovely things to the flavor. That one may get added to "buy again" list, along with the Snofrisk I found in the Norwegian cheeses

*I've been told it's like a Whole Paycheck Foods. Only better and weirder. Much, much weirder.

#16 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 07:21 PM:

joann @ 12:

I second the liking of Tillamook Sharp Cheddar; it's good as a snack by itself or with crackers, and makes a rather nice meal when melted onto good bread (bagels work, especially because I can't get good bagels here on the Wrong Coast).

The cheese that I buy when I'm celebrating is either Cotswold (Double Gloucester with chives) or Huntsman (Double Gloucester layered with Stilton). nom nom nom

Note that the 2010 Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake in the Cotswolds has been officially cancelled due to safety concerns.

#17 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 07:36 PM:

I've also been told that the g in gouda is pronounced as an h: howda. Confirm or deny?

#18 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 07:51 PM:

Daniel Kline@8: Foodwise, the thing I missed most after moving to Ireland was cheese.

Try moving to Japan. They make flavourless "pizza cheese" in Hokkaido, and a Camembert which isn't as bad as it could be, but it's basically a desert - and the imported stuff can go to three times the price it is at home and more.

#19 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 07:52 PM:

Mary #17. Yes, more or less.

It's actually further back in the throat than that (like the 'ch' in 'loch'), and for some speakers of Dutch it is voiced (ie, a sound related to 'ch' in 'loch' the way 'log' is related to 'lock').

#20 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 08:06 PM:

For a long while I was addicted to a cheddar made by Cabot, called "Vintage Choice". I don't see it here in Houston. I shop at the same grocery chain as joann@12 (indeed, the main reason Katie and I are living where we're living is the ten-minute walk to there) and they have a wide variety of cheddars. An English one called "Ford Farms Coastal Extra Mature" is quite good; this thread just inspired me to have a bite of it.

Old Amsterdam is something I can't allow in the apartment except on special celebratory occasions, it disappears too quickly.

#21 ::: Beth ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 08:28 PM:

@16 Bruce, with regard to the bagels: I'm a longtime lurker, but I seem to recall that you live in or around Portland. If so, you may consider seeking out Kettleman Bagels. My former employer, an Orthodox Jew from the Lower East Side (she knows from bagels), says they're as good as anything she can get in New York.

I know very little on the subject of bagels generally, being from this coast, but I find their salt and pumpernickel bagels simply divine.

#22 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 08:36 PM:

For renal failure patients, a serving of cheese is a one-inch cube. :::sniff:::

#23 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 08:52 PM:

Marilee #22: Would that include Parmesan or the like? That could go a long way...

#24 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 09:34 PM:

I remember when I was a kid my aunt and uncle would buy homemade cheese from a nearby family farm in Maine. They made good cheese, but it was different every time. They never made the same batch twice.

#25 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 09:46 PM:

Mmmm, cheese.

We also have Tillamook Sharp Cheddar as a default cheese. I will enthusiastically try any cheese without mold in it, though I will certainly try the mold cheeses, if with less enthusiasm. (Never have liked blue cheese, though I like feta, which has a similar taste profile.*)

One of the ways I indicate our comparative wealth to when we were young and broke is "We must be rich; we can buy cheese whenever we want." This is because when I say I'd rather buy no cheese than buy cheese-like product, I mean it... and we went for more than a year without snacking cheese.

*I have a similar love of caramel and dislike of butterscotch, though they also have similar profiles. Small differences matter.

#26 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 09:53 PM:

Discussions of cheese always remind me of my high school Philosophy Club. After one too many discussions got sidetracked, one of our members stood up and ranted about staying on-topic, culminating in the sentence "if you want to talk about -- cheese -- go somewhere else."

Cheese thereafter became the word for "digression," and when we held a club party, it had to be a cheese party. We had quite some good cheeses, including Limburger. (No wine, as none of us were near old enough to pass for 21.)

I hadn't thought of that in quite a while, actually. Shows you how often I talk cheese since leaving high school.

The "extra sharp" cheddar at the local supermarket is barely even there. I would like more sharpness, please.

#27 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 10:05 PM:

The budget does not permit exceptional cheeses very often; I got a little teary-eyed with nostalgia when Huntsman was mentioned above. For the nonce I have to content myself with rather ordinary cooking cheeses, though I can come up with an aged cheddar sharp enough to slice other cheeses with now and then.

I think after the next festival gig I'll indulge in a small quantity of Huntsman.

#28 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 10:22 PM:

The supermarket I usually go to has a cheese section with lots of imported stuff of various types. I'll walk by to see what's on sale; I met Maytag Blue and St Andre that way. One time I bought a wedge of real Roquefort, which is very much worth the money, if blue cheese is on your list of edibles.

Trader Joe's used to have 'mature Welsh cheddar' from South Caernarfon Creameries. It's worth a shot, if you can find it. I'd describe it as for eating like a good chocolate, because it's smooth and rich.

#29 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 10:31 PM:

Oh cheese, one of the great fringe benefits of being a French teacher. I can sometimes find a decent young goat cheese here, which I then open and leave in the fridge until it's properly aromatic. I can also get the giant blocks of sharp Tillamook, which is my default lunch sandwich in winter (on my own sourdough, which I like very sour indeed).

#30 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 10:38 PM:

One of my first positive Dutch experiences* was buying a cheese and tomato sandwich at a railway station and finding that it tasted of cheese and tomatoes.

Hyperlocal cheese news, back in Seattle: Red Alder, from the Mt Townsend Creamery. It tastes of leafmould. Hmm. That doesn't look nearly as attractive written down as it is in reality.

* The first negative experience was slightly earlier, with the ticket machines, which had a much narrower range of payment options than they claimed.

#31 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 10:50 PM:

I don't care for the "stinky" cheeses, and mold to me is something to be scraped off, not eaten. I have a very sensitive nose, which is odd in a person who likes very spicy things, but there it is. In fact, I can't eat most goat cheese, though I suspect that's a taste aversion from getting sick after (not necessarily propter) my first taste of it. (Yes, I know Serge...I got sick post-taste.)

I've lived in Hoboken since 1982. There are two kinds of mozzarella (which is pronounced mutsarEL, with the 'mut' rhyming with 'put'): the kind used for cooking (pizza, eggplant parm, etc), and the kind for eating, which is fresh. And by fresh I mean still steaming slightly from the boiling water it's made in. You have never had mutz until you've had it that fresh. If it's ever been refrigerated in its life, it's not fresh. If it was made yesterday, it's not fresh.

I like to make pizza with two thirds cooking mozzarella, one third Monterey jack, and a sprinkling of shredded Asiago.

ddb 4: I've seen some signs of people breeding milder Habanero peppers as well (and I DO understand people who don't wnat to mess with the real thing; but there are plenty of other kinds of pepper, why not just use those?).

While I'm appalled at the idea of people deliberately breeding mild hobbies, there's a simple answer to the "why not just use [a different kind of pepper]" question: the others don't taste like hobbies. There's more difference between peppers than just their hotness. The flavor of hobbies is distinctive.

thomas 19: for some speakers of Dutch it is voiced (ie, a sound related to 'ch' in 'loch' the way 'log' is related to 'lock').

The 'gh' in 'Afghanistan' is also pronounced in that way.

Beth 21: I know very little on the subject of bagels generally, being from this coast, but I find their salt and pumpernickel bagels simply divine.

A true bagel is boiled in the dough before being baked. This results in a hard crust over the entire thing. If you whack an alleged bagel on the counter, and it goes whumf instead of thunk, reject it. It is a false bagel. If you meet the bagel in the road, kill it. Oh, wait.

Salt bagels are the food of the gods.

#32 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 10:52 PM:

abi, your comments on the proper pronunciation of Gouda remind me of some of my friends from back in Nashville - there was a sizable Dutch contingent in my department, who would correct that pronunciation whenever it was mangled. Mine is deemed to be acceptable, even if I cannot *quite* get it right.

On the more general topic, I adore living near a great cheese shop... at the moment, I am working through a really wonderful Camembert. Nom!

#33 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 10:52 PM:

I love cheese; my partner despises it*, with the exception of mozzarella and queso blanco. Fortunately, he doesn't mind if I eat cheese, so we generally have some snacking cheese in the fridge.

I've never been able to develop a taste for moldy cheeses, and other strong-flavored cheeses are unpredictable; I love feta and very sharp cheddar, but have had others in that category that just didn't work for me.

Medium- or mild-flavored cheeses, though, generally do. I enjoy muenster, mozzarella and provolone, medium cheddar, the standard American-style Edam and Gouda, Colby, Monterey Jack**, most of the array of Mexican cheeses we can get here, good baby Swiss, and cheese curd. Ricotta is good for cooking; "cottage cheese" is NOT an acceptable substitute, nor is it good for anything else.

Some of the best cheese I've ever had came from an Amish-run shop called Arthur Cheese in Arthur, IL. Sadly, they went out of business some 15 years ago -- but I used to detour thru Arthur on my way up to Chambanacon specifically to buy cheese, and we would get a shipment delivered for the Musicon consuite.

* He says it smells and tastes like rotten milk.
** I can eat the stuff they call Co-Jack, which is a mixture of Colby and Monterey Jack marbled together, but it's sort of a choice of last resort -- either one individually is much better. "Pepper Jack", Monterey Jack with bits of red and green pepper in, is an abomination.

#35 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 11:01 PM:

The Aussie range of cheeses is interesting. There's standard supermarket cheddar (comes in sizes up to the 1kg block, and either semi-matured or fully-matured) of which the most-known brandname is the Kraft "Coon" cheese. Then there's the various Aussiefied versions of classic varietals, such as King Island Dairy's brie and camemberts, along with a lot of farmhouse cheddars and soft cheeses. My personal favourites are well-matured cheddar (for toasting, topping things, etc) and either Red Leicester or Double Gloucester for nibbling. My partner will cheerfully sit down to a meal of cheese and crackers using the supermarket matured cheddar, though. We also get things like Jarlsberg (Norwegian) and various other imported cheeses, along with the standard Kraft foil-wrapped "processed cheddar" - the stuff which looks and tastes like extruded plastic.

#36 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 11:08 PM:

I find that most any cheese sold at the farmer's market, but someone who knows their cows by name, will be tasty.

#37 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 11:27 PM:

Yabbut, janetl, we don't all live in PDX. Though not for lack of trying, in my case.

#38 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 11:35 PM:

TexAnne @ 37: It really does rain for 9 months, so the karmic balance is maintained.

#39 ::: Susie ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 11:39 PM:

Among my favorite memories of a year in the Netherlands is tasting the cheeses at our village's weekly open-air market before buying. Sliced just the right way (very thinly), from a large wheel. It's over 30 years ago, so I forget exactly what varieties were offered.

On pronunciation: I never met a Dutch speaker whose guttural "g" sounded like an "h", but I may not have met a representative sample.

#40 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2010, 11:50 PM:

Rainbow Grocery in SF has a great cheese section, and they carry one Dutch cheese that I really like. Unfortunately, I can't remember its name at the moment. I don't think it's been mentioned yet. It's "nutty" (for lack of a better word), and highly flavored without being "stinky."

Taleggio is my favorite cheese whose name I can remember.

#41 ::: ebear ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 12:00 AM:

Cheese is my favorite food.

I have eaten durian (it's fine until you burp) but I have never eaten Limberger. This is because when I bought some, with the intent of trying it, I managed to only partially unwrap it before my stomach rebelled In No Uncertain Terms. (Yes, there were sound effects.)

I have a Notably Strong Stomach.

So we do not eat Limberger in this house.

I am also a cheddar partisan. Generally, I agree with DDB @4 (it had to happen in some continuity eventually) and prefer American to English or Irish cheddar. However, the Dubliner cheese is quite nice.

As a card-carrying Yankee, liking cheddar (specifically Vermont Cheddar) is required. (If it is orange, by the way, it is not cheddar. Take it back to California.)

Some of the greatest sufferings of my tenure in Las Vegas were related to the unavailability of decent cheese. Fortunately, Costco carried Cabot extra sharp white cheddar (which I much prefer to Tillamook) in 2-pound blocks, and so the ranch was saved.

As for cheese in general, I have to admit--most triple cream cheeses taste of axle grease to me, so brie is in large part wasted (with the exception of one $25/lb brie a friend brought to a party once); and I prefer sharp and flavorful cheeses to the ones that are merely fatty. I have never understood the point of Monterey jack....

#42 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 12:07 AM:

ebear, if we're ever in France together, I'm going to hunt up some Gris de Lille or Maroilles for you. Failing that, I'll look for my notes on Québécois Cheeses I Have Loved--you might be able to find some where you live.

#43 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 12:08 AM:

Two words. Sage Derby.

Carry on.

#44 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 01:02 AM:

I have never understood the point of Monterey jack

It's for putting other things, like hot peppers or truffles, in. Like most carriers, it's uninteresting by itself. Check that, it's completely self-effacing by itself.

#45 ::: Zelda ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 01:15 AM:

Cheese, cheese, cheese-- I could listen and listen. [1]

ddb @4, Caroline @26: I've observed the same trend in "dumbing-down" levels of sharpness in cheddar. I like a cheddar so sharp it bites back, and you can't get them in our supermarkets (suburban Chicago). Weyauwega makes a yellow cheddar out of Wisconsin that's at least worth the energy it takes to chew it, and the occasional round of Dubliner is nice.

ebear @41: A few months ago I asked my SO to pick up some cheese on his grocery store run. He asked what kind; I waved my hand around vaguely and said, "I dunno, something interesting." When I opened the refrigerator that evening to find Limburger on the bottom shelf, I took it as a form of sarcasm. Even the dog, who absolutely plotzes with joy over such stinky cheeses as Stilton and overripe Brie, regarded it with suspicion (wag...?). Straight out to the trashcan *in the garage*.

[1]Obscure reference to a children's book of my father's era; I shall be stunned and delighted if anyone recognizes it.

#46 ::: Marty in Boise ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 01:20 AM:

I am a cretin. I'm eating Tillamook medium cheddar on Ritz crackers and am not cowed by your elitist cheeses.

#47 ::: Laurel ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 01:36 AM:

I feel very ignorant about all these fascinating cheeses. It makes me remember, though, the visits of my Aunt Ann from the Netherlands, who would come to stay with us for a week or two when I was younger. She was willing to put up with all sorts of privations during the visit (at least according to her) but lack of decent cheese was not one of them. As a result, I was sent out to the local supermarket several times with a list of acceptable cheeses, which did nothing but confuse both me and a number of store employees (Publix is not what you might call a gourmet store.) I think she eventually settled for the Edam-equivalent, but mostly out of desperation. Perhaps I should try one of these fancy ones to honor her memory.

#48 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 02:56 AM:

Zelda #45: Obscure reference to a children's book of my father's era; I shall be stunned and delighted if anyone recognizes it.

Am I getting warm?

#49 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 03:17 AM:

ddb: People breed milder Habeñeros for the same reason they breed hotter ones, they can, and they enjoy the result.

Habeñero is a really tasty pepper, and I know people (myself for example) who can't take the heat. I used some the other night. I had to strip the seeds, and most of the pith to make them usuable. I had to use a fork to keep my hands from being contaminated. That was with one of the local growers newer varieties. Even at that, two of them was the all I needed to make the dish pleasantly warm, without hiding all the other ingredients.

Variety is the spice of life.
I love cheese. There are some I don't care for (St. Andre... last years socks, with a hefty dose of last years grave mould. Not yummy), but, by and large, mild to ripe, I like 'em.

I have tastes plebian, and snobbish. Mostly , there aren't cetgories which leave me cold, but specific makers. Thankfully Les, my wonderful housemate, is of the opnion that cheese is love. We usually have two or three interesting one's in the house (I have some cabot aging in wax... it's going on six years old now, and a couple of small waxed truckles (english cheddar), which I am loathe to open just yet, because they were so good when they were younger, I wonder how they have progressed. Since Tj's seems to not have them anymore, I am bereft.
re Wisconson, The most amazing aged cheddar I've ever had was from a Wisconsin maker: Hook. The 10 year old was good, the 12, actually seemed milder, if more crystalline, but the 15 was incredible. Oh! The crunch of it.

abi: I love cumin. The semi-hard gouda with cumin is usually sold as Leyden here. It's great grilled with herbs.

Mind you, I also like velveeta, for some things. It's oft vilified (see ddb above). It's not a knockoff of cheddar, and if the US market hadn't such an inane love of yellow cheese, no one would think it was trying to be cheddar. It started life, in 1916, as a blend of cheeses; made by a Swiss Immigrant. It's saving graces, it melts well. A bit of heat and instant cheese sauce, and it's got a pleasant tang. I like it as a base for nachos.

The point of Monetery Jack is to be aged; at about 2 years it's amazing. At 18 months it's ok. Younger than six months and it's just a waxy queso fresco. Nice, but innoffensive

#50 ::: Juliet E McKenna ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 03:34 AM:

Dutch goat cheeses may be negligible in terms of profile/market share but for me, unable to tolerate cow's casein but okay with others*, they're made of win. Husband works for the UK division of a Dutch company and on trips to HQ has picked up some notable successes. The medium strength goat gouda was one.

Mind you, the aroma did turn heads all through the carriage when he opened the car door on the channel tunnel shuttle train. Probably a good thing he hadn't gone for the 'mature'.

*long story involving hospital dieticians and a six month exclusion diet. I can bore for England on the subject of food intolerance now.

#51 ::: Dichroic ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 03:48 AM:

My local town market has a stall where instead of jonge and oude, you ask for cheeses numbered 1 to 8, where 1 is boerenkaas and 8 is the oldest.

In Amsterdam, the initial consonant of Gouda matches the final one of loch. Where I live in the south of the Netherlands it's a softer sound, not as far back in the throat - more like the Arabic sound that's sometimes rendered as h with a dot under it, as in Ahmed. It is not a voiced sound, however.

#52 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 03:50 AM:

Blessed are the cheesemakers.

#53 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 03:57 AM:

Juliet@50: Mind you, the aroma did turn heads all through the carriage when he opened the car door on the channel tunnel shuttle train. Probably a good thing he hadn't gone for the 'mature'.

Reminds me of this, about a page or so down from the beginning.

#54 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 04:05 AM:

P J Evans @28: The "Mature Welsh" (recently rebranded as "Red Dragon", I believe) is actually the second-best grade of cheddar produced by those guys. If you can find it (it's quite commonly available here in the UK, but may not get exported much) "Old Shire Vintage Special Reserve" is actually quite a bit better IMO.

#55 ::: chris y ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 04:06 AM:

The people where they invented Cheddar could claim a right to define it

ddb, Cheddar was invented in the village of Cheddar, oddly enough, in Somerset, south-west England, where it's still made. The best knock-offs are made in Scotland these days, and can be very good. A really good mature Cheddar, not the soap-like stuff sold in supermarkets, is seriously strong, but the flavour is a little hard to describe - meaty and mouldy both come to mind, but they're both wrong. It's definitely cheese. There are also bad "extra-mature" Cheddars sold which take the roof of your mouth off. These are OK for toasting, but they lack the flavour of the real thing.

England and Wales have a lot of hard, crumbly cheeses, most of which are excellent if you can get them, but should be avoided in mass production versions like the plague - they're indistinguishable from mass production "Cheddar". If you're ever in North Yorkshire, kill to get some Wensleydale.

Ireland does have good cheese. Cashel Blue, which is a Stilton knock-off in origin, I think, has emerged as a rather good, slightly softer, alternative. There are many others, but they don't export the good stuff.

#56 ::: Martin Wisse ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 04:51 AM:

Leidse kaas is what the rest of the world calls cumin cheese (or komeinekaas in Dutch) btw, not so much a regional variation as a regional name for a bog standard cheese.

#57 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 06:41 AM:

I have, in recent years, become something of a partisan of manchego. This may be the result of a quixotic personality.

#58 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 06:46 AM:

Terry Karney #49: I am loathe to open just yet, because they were so good when they were younger, I wonder how they have progressed. Since Tj's seems to not have them anymore, I am bereft.

Oenophile's Dilemma?

#59 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 07:02 AM:

Here in Pugetropolis I shop at the Grocery Outlet and Trader Joe's. The former just provided me with some "Fontiago" which I am not sure how I feel about. At the latter, I do like their Dubliner Cheddar and Kiwi Swiss. Mild cheddar and baby swiss don't do it for me; I like strong cheeses and those seem to work. So does most any cheese that ends in O. Each spring there is a cheese festival at the Pike Place Market. I find that I can pretty well go with just taking the samples of the hard crumbly-looking cheeses and leaving the soft-looking ones...well not entirely, if it is Swiss it is worth a try. I think that festival goes thru half a million toothpicks every year, or something. Oh yes, I like the blue moldy ones also. But not the ones that are just kind of...sour/bitter. And don't bring cottage cheese anywhere near me.
Local whose name I can't remember, and another with to me the best name ever for a cheese...Ewephoria.

#60 ::: Joris ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 07:03 AM:

I love cheese, especially strong sharp ones. It is one of the things I missed while living in Australia. Supermarket cheddar, even the mature ones, did not cut it. Luckily there were some specialist shops that had some cheeses more to my liking.

Tim @40, it sounds like a proper overaged Gouda. They can co brilliantly nutty and crumbly, often with visible salt crystals.

#61 ::: Jen Birren ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 07:22 AM:

ObReeves-and-Mortimer cheese sketch. (Best song about cottage cheese ever?)

#62 ::: ebear ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 08:21 AM:

chris y @ 55: I have seen a proper Yorkshirewoman FLIP OUT for good Vermont cheddar. (I've also had proper Cheddar from Cheddar: I distinguish them with the capital C for idiosyncratic reasons of my own. I)

It really is quite good, and not at all like the supermarket stuff.

We have a lot of nice local cheeses around here as well (New England still has a lot of small dairies) but I generally buy those by the taste-and-point method. "This one with the red wax, please." So I have no idea what any of them are called, beyond "farm cheese."

#63 ::: chris y ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 08:48 AM:

ebear, never seen Vermont cheddar over here. I'll keep an eye out.

I sort of assume that at some point in its history America had as many good local cheeses as Europe, if not more. The question is, what became of most of them.

#64 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 08:50 AM:

Singing Wren @ 15 - I'm also quite fond of Jungle Jim's. Since I live about 130 miles away, and have an elderly car that I'm now reluctant to take out on the highway, I've gotten over there only about once a year recently. Went in May, returned with a small wedge of Stilton and a block of gjetost among my loot.

I'll be going by there again in October, in either a newer car of my own or a rental. Have to start making a list.....

#65 ::: Sarah S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 09:18 AM:

Two worth finding, and often easily found at Trader Joe's are Drunken Goat (a hard goat's cheese that has had the rind washed in red wine) and St. Agur--a double cream bleu that's quite possibly the best thing ever.

#66 ::: chris y ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 09:23 AM:

Totally seconding the recommendation for St Agur. Worth going too a lot of trouble for.

#67 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 09:43 AM:

Last year I was stopped from bringing a small Reblochon out of Switzerland by a (very friendly, very apologetic) security lady because, apparently, it is an "emulsion" and therefore counted as a (presumably potentially explosive) liquid.

I was very sad to abandon it.

#68 ::: Bo ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 10:15 AM:

My favorite is an aged cheese with cumin and cloves in it called Friesian Nail Cheese.

And the "g" in Gouda sounds like someone fruitlessly trying to clear an obstruction from their throat, at least in the upper half of the Netherlands....


#69 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 10:58 AM:

Bruce Cohen@16: I like Cotswold and Huntsman. And I find I can serve them at parties as an alternative to the stronger things I like even better, without having to resort to Havarti or something.

Meg Thornton@35: I grew up (in Minnesota) on Kraft "Coon Brand" cheddar. Fairly decent white cheddar, sold in a stick wrapped in black foil and then later plastic. (I think it started out independent, and got bought into Kraft but not ruined.) I wonder if that's related to what you were talking about?

Fragano Ledgister@57: Manchego is nice. I should figure out more ways to use it. And Pamela can eat sheep and goat cheeses by not cow, so that's nice.

Terry Karney@49: I'm afraid I hate the way Velveeta melts. The kind of nachos that use Velveeta sauce are inedible to me (no doubt if I were actually starving, I'd manage fine, but).

#70 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 11:59 AM:

ddb #69:

No, no, you don't make nachos out of Velveeta, you make Sunday Lunch Queso Dip: lots of velveeta, about a third cup of some variety of Pace Picante (other sauces allowed if that's what your religion requires). Other additions as believed necessary by the cook. Microwave and retire to the bedroom with the newspapers. Dipping real tortilla chips in works a treat, because they won't get soggy by sitting in the stuff.

#71 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 12:25 PM:

Roquefort. Epoisses. Banon. (Sheep, cow, goat.)

The French fromage and Italian formaggio are derived from the Latin caseum formaticum, "cheese made in a mold".

How can anyone govern a nation that has two hundred and forty-six different kinds of cheese? -- Charles de Gaulle
#72 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 12:46 PM:

Speaking of Dutch dairy products- I think I vaguely remember from the one time I was there that aside from their cheeses, the Dutch also some some kind of dairy product that doesn't really have an equivalent in many other countries- kind of distantly related to yoghurt, but without being yoghurt. I've forgotten the name, though.

(I like hard cheeses with added herbs, especially ramsons or fenugreek, and especially if the flavor is strong enough that you can get your mouth filled with the taste from finger sized, almost paper thin slices, but they're hard to get here, at least when you're on a tight budget.)

#73 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 12:54 PM:

Has anybody made cheese fondue with only goat or sheep cheeses?

I love the traditional gruyere/ementhaler fondue that my mother learned from our neighbors in Zurich in 1958; but Pamela can't eat cow's milk products. And we just stumbled into a THIRD cheese fondue set. So I'm looking into ideas for make a cheese fondue she could eat.

(The recipe I love is:

8 oz dry white wine
8 oz grated ementhaler
8 oz grated gruyere (NOT processed; that gives a grainy texture and inferior flavor)
some garlic ("rub the bowl" up through 5 cloves; I use the 5 cloves).
1T potato starch
1.5 oz Kirschwasser

Makes 4 servings.

(Obviously, that's 2 oz per person on the first three ingredients. A normal fondue pot won't serve more than 6 people either by volume or by their being able to reach it.)

In a cheese fondue bowl (broad shallow ceramic, flat bottom), heat the wine over moderate heat with the garlic cloves. Gradually add the cheese, stirring constantly.

Do not give up when it reaches the stage that it doesn't look like food.

Mix the potato starch with the Kirsch.

When the cheese is fully melted into the wine, pour in the Kirsch and starch mixture. Stir well. This should bind the fats back in and make rather smooth, uniform liquid.

Place over a burner on the table. Eat on small chunks of crusty bread, using long forks. I think tearing the bread chunks is better than cutting them in advance. Be sure to stir the pot with your bread, do NOT just dip! If you learn to rotate your fork properly, you can avoid dripping on the table cloth ;-) . The fondue can't sit around, it must be eaten immediately.

Don't let it boil. Turn down the burner as needed.

At the end, baking a thin layer onto the pot, then peeling it off and eating it is traditional.

We mostly serve a fruit salad after the fondue, and call that dinner.

We fight over the garlic cloves. They're cooked, and quite mild, but give a nice little burst of flavor. )

#74 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 12:55 PM:

joann@70: Well, if you like that, go ahead and make it. Enjoy! (You can have mine.)

#75 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 01:46 PM:

ddb #74:

I'll take yours with pleasure. Not that it's gourmet, mind, just pure comfort food on Sundays when we don't want to go out or cook anything more complicated. I should note that we're in Central Texas, and that it's sort of a state dish. Possibly even the state social lubricant, in some circles.

#76 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 01:48 PM:

ddb #73:

I'd love to try your fondue, but emmenthaler has the curious property of making my lips swell up. My husband's, too.

(No, Serge! That doesn't mean it makes us kiss!)

#77 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 01:56 PM:

joann@75: I don't eat at the gourmet level most of the time, and the cheese that actually passes through my house most is bags of shredded cojack; but that's the bottom end of the cheese range that I find at all useful.

#78 ::: Lin D ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 02:01 PM:

My friend Beth refers to Havarti as "sexy cheese." I can't say I disagree.

#79 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 02:10 PM:

Lin D@78: Sexy havarti? Very strange! For me it's one of a range of equally-dull (though not indistinguishable) cheeses; monterey jack, gouda, havarti, mozarella, provolone. Even the normal American "swiss" is more interesting.

At least three of those are useful in cooking, though, and I use them in different places.

#80 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 02:15 PM:

Raphael @72:
I think I vaguely remember from the one time I was there that aside from their cheeses, the Dutch also some some kind of dairy product that doesn't really have an equivalent in many other countries- kind of distantly related to yoghurt, but without being yoghurt. I've forgotten the name, though.

Could it possibly be vla*? That's more like pudding/thick custard than yoghurt, but it's the best-fit local dairy product without wider equivalent I can think of.

* Not to be confused with vlaai, which is a kind of fruit tart from Limburg. Apricot vlaai is one of the foods of heaven.

#81 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 02:15 PM:

ddb, you diss mozzarella at your peril. Dem's fightin' woids, buddy.

Seriously, it seems you have no appreciation for gentle flavors. Since I have none for the extremely stinky end of the range, I can't argue too strenuously.

#82 ::: Lin D ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 02:21 PM:

ddb: I think she calls it that because it's creamier than cheddar, and has a delightful flavor that survives crackers and wine. Her household is mostly an "American cheese slice"* household, with the occasional foray into cheese-on-pizza. *sigh*

* I had the ghods-awful ugly flu earlier this year, and couldn't taste anything. I made the mistake of grabbing a slice of said "cheese" as a no-prep-needed meal, only to discover that without taste, it was nothing but a solidified slab of grease. It was so seriously offputting that I didn't eat cheese for a couple of months, until I was *sure* I could taste things properly. I didn't want to hang that memory on my beloved cheddar.

#83 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 02:43 PM:

Xopher@81: I have some appreciation for milder flavors, and at least the ability to distinguish them; various kinds of Italian and French bread, for example, are quite mild flavors which I absolutely love. And I do use mozzarella for some things, and provolone for others, so I recognize some difference (though I'll interchange them if necessary).

Okay, fresh mozzarella with tomatoes and basil is something fairly special. Not that I've ever had fresh mozzarella, by your definition @31.

Which reminds me that at least two people seemed to suggest that feta is "like" some sharp cheeses, blue in one case and maybe cheddar in the other? Knock me over with a feather! I find the flavor totally mild, and the interest at least as much from texture as flavor. (And it's a tricky texture for me; but I do love a tomato, cucumber, and feta salad, what It's Greek To Me calls a "Village Salad").

#84 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 03:24 PM:

ddb 83: Not that I've ever had fresh mozzarella, by your definition @31.

Should you ever find yourself in Hoboken, we will remedy this.

#85 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 03:25 PM:

Damn, now I want mutz. Oh, well, I'll have a sammitch of it tomorrow, and just NOT EAT ANYTHING FOR SEVERAL DAYS THEREAFTER. Meh.

#86 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 03:55 PM:

#83 ddb I do love a tomato, cucumber, and feta salad, what It's Greek To Me calls a "Village Salad")

I'm actually eating that right now! I have one nearly every day. I add oregano and a bit of red wine vinegar, and yum...

I love nice, old cheddar. I once told someone I like my cheese to bite back. Perron's Aged 10 years in Port wine is a fave, which I mostly can't afford... mmmmmm.... on a St. Viateur bagel... mmmm...

#87 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 03:57 PM:

The goat cheeses from this farm outside Greensboro, NC are utterly fantastic. I have also visited the farm, which is neat.

ddb @ 83, I agree with you. I find the taste of feta to be quite mild, not at all like blue cheese. Most of my experience is with supermarket feta, though -- could have the sharpness dialed down, like supermarket cheddar.

#88 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 04:26 PM:

Xopher@84: Sounds good to me! Not that I see any particular likelihood of my in fact being in that neighborhood in the forseeable future.

Cheryl@86: The restaurant version I'm used to has an oil and vinegar and herb dressing too. One of the earlier salads that I ordered routinely with dressing (I grew up not liking salad dressings; I still can't stand any in the "creamy" family).

#89 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 04:28 PM:

Caroline@87: I've had a number of restaurant fetas, plus some from different ethnic import shops, and I find them all fairly similar to the supermarket version (differing more in texture than taste). But not sure I've had particularly good variants.

#90 ::: KateShaw ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 04:31 PM:

There is no better food than a really good pizza with tons of spinach and feta cheese. Seriously, I could eat that for every meal and die (probably somewhat sooner than I ought) a very happy woman.

Cheddar in the southern U.S. has to be orange, because if it's not, it must be Mozzarella. We are not gifted with a history of cheese-loving down here, or at least not that I've noticed. The really good cheeses are hard to find and (to me) too expensive to snack on without a special occasion.

#91 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 04:56 PM:

I like havarti. It's good snacking cheese. It tastes good but doesn't dominate the crackers. Gouda's fancy snacking cheese, mostly because I have to buy the slightly fancier crackers and those are expensive. I like smoked gouda, though a friend did point out that the smoke makes it into a sort of dairy meat product. I do not care; someday, I shall be rich, and there shall always be gouda and crackers available.
I have also devoured something that sounded like 'conte' or 'comte' which was probably French. It was whitish. I was hungry. NOM.

My family has a reunion in Wisconsin that includes a trip to a cheese factory. One year, Dad bought Limburger, made half an hour away from our house I think, and put it in the cooler. At the end of the weekend, he drained the cooler... and the next day, found the cheese.
It had poofed up in its foil like a balloon, and when he opened it, he said it smelled like shit. He may have eaten it, in which case it also tasted like shit cheese.

He gave it to a friend who likes such things. Friend said it was amazing.

#92 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 05:03 PM:

I've had delivery pizza that featured a blend of Provolone, Asiago and Fontina cheese. It made the overall flavor a bit more complicated, but not obtrusively so.

#93 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 05:04 PM:

joann, #70: The canonical version of that dip (in quantity suitable for a party) calls for a pound block of Velveeta and a can of Ro-Tel.

Another thing Velveeta is good for is grilled-cheese sandwiches of the "comfort food" variety. I also like it toasted on saltines, with or without the addition of slice Vienna sausage. I used to drop some into Campbell's vegetable soup to melt, but eating ramen has spoiled me for any type of canned soup, so I don't do that any more.

ddb, #83: Feta is definitely classed with the strong-flavored cheeses in my mind, although I wouldn't call it "sharp". Since I don't like eating leaves or cucumbers, my version of that salad involves just coarsely-chopped tomatoes mixed with coarsely-crumbled feta, perhaps with a bit of lemon juice sprinkled on it.

Feta also adds a nice touch to pizza, and a mushroom-onion-and-feta omelet is wonderful.

#94 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 05:04 PM:

There's a cheese here in Germany called Romadur, which is similar to Limburger, only a bit milder. I've had it served on pumpernickel bread with sliced raw onions. A case of "the best defense is an offense"? Actually pretty good, especially with beer.

What I haven't tried yet is the Gouda with pesto. It is very, very, very green, and somehow it doesn't look so edible. Gouda with nettles, however -- nom!

#95 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 05:10 PM:

Anne Sheller @ 64: Just FYI, Jungle Jim's has rearranged some of their departments, probably since the last time you visited. ISTR they were moving things around in June. And ObOnTopic, the cheeses are now grouped by type instead of by geography.

Re: havarti
Havarti also makes a good carrier cheese for certain other flavors. I'm fond of one that has caraway seeds in it. It's also lovely (plain, I've never tried with the caraway) on toasted ham and cheese sandwiches, preferably with really good bread.

I think I need to start making up a list of cheeses discussed on this thread for my next trip to Jungle Jim's!

#96 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 05:11 PM:

I've run across feta on pizza, and it doesn't melt! It remains grainy, too. I found it truly horrible.

#97 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 05:18 PM:

You are sitting at home, indulging a moment of leisure. You hear a knock at the door. You go to answer it, and find a yound man standing nervously on the stoop. He is dressed in a short-sleeved button up shirt and tie, with his hair carefully combed--all of which only accentuates the baby fat lingering on his face. You greet him politely, sighing a little inside, and he clears his throat awkwardly. He extends out a thick book to you, and your attention is caught unexpectedly on the words of the title.

"Good afternoon," he says. "I was wondering if you had a moment to hear the word of cheeses?" The book in his hands is titled The World Encyclopedia of Cheeses. "I have samples," he adds, and your smile transforms from polite to genuine.

"Do come in," you say, holding the door wide.

#98 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 05:19 PM:

I like feta on veggie pizza, sprinkled on after baking so that it gets warm but doesn't even really try to melt. It works best on pizza piled with so many vegetables that it is more like a salad served on a flatbread.

#99 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 05:28 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 44: "[Monterey Jack]'s for putting other things, like hot peppers or truffles, in. Like most carriers, it's uninteresting by itself. Check that, it's completely self-effacing by itself."

It's also useful for giving to picky children whose conception of cheese is largely derived via Kraft™ Mac'n Cheese™. I say this as a former picky child.

Marty in Boise @ 46: "I'm eating Tillamook medium cheddar on Ritz crackers and am not cowed by your elitist cheeses."

You prefer to be sheepish about it?

Fragano Ledgister @ 57: "I have, in recent years, become something of a partisan of manchego."

Manchego is a cheese that frustrates me. The first manchego I had was amazing, and I went home raving about it. But every time I've bought it since, it's been, well, good. Not amazing. I pay a lot more attention to specific producers now.

#100 ::: Joris ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 05:29 PM:

Feta in its supermarket guises tends to be mild. But I have had some nice sharp varieties, especially sheep or goat's milk feta. Not in what I would consider blue cheese territory, but I have had plenty of blue cheeses more mild then the sharper fetas.

Mozzarella for me always is the white, young variety sold in brine, preferably of buffalo milk. The more solid variety I have seen in supermarkets is something completely different to me.

One cheese I like, as a snack, is french :tomme au marc. It is ripened inside the parts of grapes that remain after the pre-wine has been removed from them. Slightly spice cheese, with a clear grape taste to it as well.

#101 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 05:31 PM:

Caroline @87, ddb @83: on feta.

I have had lots of exposure to feta -- it used to be my father's favorite cheese, and good feta was fairly widely available growing up in Melbourne. I don't think feta is like blue cheese at all, but good feta is moderately high-acid as well as salty.

Good feta tends to come in fairly large chunks, submerged in brine. It's creamier in texture than supermarket generic feta as well as more acid.

There are some reasonably good fetas sold in the US that come in plastic packaging with a bit of brine inside, which might turn up at supermarkets: there's a French one labelled 'Valbreso' and a Greek one labelled 'Mt Athos'.

#102 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 05:41 PM:

Diatryma, 91: There's a French cheese called comté, which is a little bit like Swiss. Was that maybe it? If so, I agree about its nommitudinousness.

#103 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 05:42 PM:

heresiarch #99:

The thing about manchego for me is that it's an unreliable keeper. Maybe I just don't have ideal conditions, but much more than other cheeses, it goes, well, weird. I can't describe what happens more accurately than that. OTOH, as served by friends recently, in the company of a little pot of truffle honey, nom nom NOM.

#104 ::: Idgecat ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 05:42 PM:

Singing Wren @ 95

If you like havarti with caraway, you might also like another Scandinavian cheese: kuminost/nokkelost (two names for the same cheese). The base is very similar to havarti and the cheese is seasoned with cumin (hence the name), caraway and cloves. I buy havarti with caraway when I can't get kuminost.

#105 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 05:51 PM:

Cheese and fruit = joy

Good bread, cheese and wine = sustainable life style.

Good bread, tomatoes and peppers in season, fresh pesto and mozzerella = civilization

A port, blue cheese and walnuts in the holiday season at the end of a great meal = Civilization Plus.

Somewhere we can add some garlic and olives too.

Or tortillas and chilis.

And eggs.

I can live forever, no problem.

Love, c.

#106 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 06:07 PM:

Constance@105: As long as you got the garlic in there. Wouldn't want to be without garlic!

#107 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 06:15 PM:

A couple of people have mentioned Huntsman. The Central Market hereabouts has something I'd never seen before called Royal Windsor Celebration -- pretty much the same idea as Huntsman, only the Cheshire part has port mixed in. Very nice.

#108 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 06:41 PM:

If I weren't afraid of rapid weight gain, I would totally into buying and trying out a frightening variety of cheeses. As it is, I mostly buy an occasional brick of Tilamook cheddar.

My sister makes an indescribably tasty brie-based dish. It's a round of brie encased in pastry, with some kind of dried fruit under the shell. Served hot from the oven, of course.

* * *

I don't believe Velveeta is technically cheese, but I do like it.

Just not enough to actually buy it.

Although, I do have this . . . thing. A piece of Tupperware-like material specifically designed to hold the canonical loaf of Velveeta. Like a giant translucent plastic butter dish.

I feel I should either auction it off as a collectible or use it.

Come to think of it, I also have a plastic box specially made to contain a block of Spam.

Spam and Velveeta sandwiches, on Wonder Bread.


#109 ::: Ken Brown ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 06:46 PM:

I'd love to see and taste some of these supposedly good US cheddars. In my limited Brit experience all American cheese has been more or less mild cheddar and nothing like the real stuff. Though for some reason I have never quite understood, a ranting of mine from over 10 years ago has at times been the top Google hit for "mild cheddar"

#110 ::: Ken Brown ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 06:53 PM:

And it still is! What did I do to deserve that? If this site will let me post a URL, my cheesewhinge is here:

#111 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 06:54 PM:

David Harmon, #23, it's the protein and although there's some difference in different cheeses, generally not enough. So it could be parmesan, but I don't like that on a sandwich.

Terry Karney, #49, I used to make (for parties and such) a dip of velveeta, a can of chili with beans, and a can of pico de gallo all warmed up. Everybody loved it and didn't believe it had velveeta as the cheese.

#112 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 07:37 PM:

Coincidentally, I was just re-reading this thread, which is mostly a long discussion of cheese and cheese-like objects, including Velveeta.

#113 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 07:46 PM:

There's a phenomenal WI cheddar that my parents get a couple of times a year. The place they get it is about a 2 hr scenic drive from their house. It's worth the drive. Once they tried to send it to me for my b-day - in august, in L.A. It did not survive too well. I generally go for the 5 or 7 year old cheddar, but I think I've tried the 10 as well. It's super sharp, stinky, and a weird combination of slimy and crumbly. So delicious.

Failing that, I'm enjoying a delicious Point Reyes Blue, an odorous, soft blue cheese that is somewhat local to me. Best dinner of the month was the crusty bread, olive oil, roasted garlic, point reyes blue and Tempranillo. Om nom nom!

A "good" cheese will rarely be found in your average supermarket. I have my special fancy favorites, but in all I'm pretty catholic in my cheese tastes, and will gladly consume any put in front of me. Except whatever that cheese is that has maggots in it. Fungus, yes; invertebrates, no.

#114 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 08:07 PM:

joann @ #70, ah, but finding real tortilla chips in a bag has become more difficult. At least in Hawai'i Frito-Lay's Dorito brand no longer includes the basic "Toasted Corn" unflavored chips. All we find in local supermarkets are the "Nacho Cheese," "Ranch," and worse, including an awful mix of two of the flavored ones in the same bag!

It's either make your own or use some rather bland varieties like Mission or Padrinos. Even Tostitos are sold only in white corn varieties.

#115 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 08:09 PM:

Thanks to Locally Grown, we have access to an assortment of locally produced dairy products, including some lovely cheeses (goat's milk and cow's milk). Also goat's milk yogurt and fudge, both of which are quite good, but the yogurt producer is too fond of weird flavors.

#116 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 08:53 PM:

Feta, cucumber, tomato, and lemon juice is also good in tabouli.

#117 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 09:06 PM:

nerdycellist #113: That would be Casu Marzu (#5 on Cracked's list). Illegal in its own place of origin....

#118 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 09:50 PM:

Re: differing opinions on feta, that might have something to do with salt tolerance. While I wouldn't call feta a notably strong or sharp cheese, I do find it near the high end of my acceptable range for saltiness, which does tend to intensify the flavor.

#119 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 09:59 PM:

ddb, #96: I've run across feta on pizza, and it doesn't melt!

Well, no -- that's what the mozzarella is for. The feta isn't pizza-cheese, it's a topping.

#120 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 10:38 PM:

I was in a supermarket this evening that had Maytag blue, Point Reyes blue, and Roquefort. None of them inexpensive, but worth having as an occasional treat. (They also had Mt Vikos feta, which is supposed to be good.)

#121 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 11:05 PM:

David Harmon 117:
That list omits Icelandic putrefied shark.

#122 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 11:17 PM:

Point Reyes:
I first heard that name from the title of a computer graphic image called "The Road to Point Reyes" (see ) which demonstrated various image compositing techniques, and I didn't realize that was the name of a real place because I thought they were making some geeky pun about ray tracing.

#123 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 11:28 PM:

Interestingly enough, I just had an evening snack before I started reading this, a ginger gold apple and a wedge of smoked gouda, both from the local Farmer's Market (Midtown). Abi, thank you for letting me know the correct way to pronounce it, but the fellow I buy it from says "goo-da" and probably wouldn't understand me otherwise.

Is smoked gouda authentic, or is it an American invention? What I get is a bit soft, not crumbly, but the flavor is... complex.

There is a wide variety of cheese in Wisconsin. Some of it is excellent. Much of that requires going to the dairy, or the Madison Farmer's Market, the best in the country, IMHO. I'm fond of cheese curds, which have to be gotten at a dairy or farmer's market, as far as I know.

#124 ::: Zelda ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 11:36 PM:

Earl Cooley @48: Now that our internet connection is back, I can confirm-- got it in one. Color me delighted.

#125 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2010, 11:48 PM:

Fragano: Aged Monterey Jack is obviously related to manchego and its iberian relatives.

ddb: at the risk of being sententious, your not liking it (be it the way velveeta melts, or the general run of Wisconsin cheese) does not make a foodstuff bad. It makes it something you don't like.

There is a difference. I don't like St. Andre. It doesn't make it bad it makes it something I won't eat, but to people who like soft cheeses (as I do), I have often recommended it, with the aviso the rind is strong, and the flavor affected by it.

#126 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 12:16 AM:

Provolone: Ah, another cheese of subtle distinctions, from the nutty, mild, cultured buttery flavor of young provolone, to the more tangy flavor of a moderately aged one, and then to the sharp, aggressive and slightly sour notes of one which is almost dry.

I think I must go and raid the cheese drawer for my supper.

Feta runs the gamut (as do so many regional cheeses which have been moved from their place of origin) from bland; with a distinct texture, to strong enough to fill one's head with the flavor. It really depend on how strong the brine was, and how long the cheese was soaked. Think of it as the difference between a fresh pickle, a half-sour, and a kosher-dill.

Benjamin Wolfe is lucky enough to live in walking distance of one of the best cheese shops I know of (The Cheese Board). I am lucky enough to work in a plaza with another really good cheese shop. I have, more than once, made the mistake of tasting some 20-40 dollar a lb cheese, and then taken some home.

The canonic "Greek Salad" in the restaurants run by greeks of my acquaintance is feta, olives (of at least two types), tomatoes, cucumber, pepperoncini, onions, and broad beans. Green peppers, and sometimes lettuce are also acceptable.

#127 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 12:28 AM:

I'm afraid I haven't time for a lengthy reply, but for Zelda and the others who lamented the lack of actually sharp 'sharp cheddar' in supermarkets in the Midwest, my husband and I were amazed and surprised to discover that the cheese with the kangaroo in boxing gloves on the label (brand, I think, "Australian Boxing Cheddar") is actually comparable in sharpness to Ontario black-diamond aged cheddar. Definite pong to it; not quite all the way to the dry-and-full-of-crystals stage of cheddar aging.

We've found it in Dominick's, TJ's, and the web tells me Costco carries it.

#128 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 01:07 AM:

ddb @ 83:
Okay, fresh mozzarella with tomatoes and basil is something fairly special.

And most special when the basil is sprinkled on a slice of the tomato (which should be a large and juicy beefsteak variety), a slice of mozzarella is placed on top, and the whole thing is broiled for a few minutes (I use a toaster oven), just long enough for the top of the cheese to brown a little bit. Ah, 'twere heaven enow.

#129 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 01:24 AM:

I've had good Gouda and I've had smoked Gouda, but I've never had smoked good Gouda. It may exist, but I only encounter smoked Gouda as a cheap grocery-store brand.

It's still tasty, mind you. It just tastes mostly of smoke. I'd like to try some Gouda which is well-aged and only slightly smoky.

(Now, there's an applewood-smoked cheddar around somewhere that I like a lot. I used to buy it frequently in Pittsburgh.)

I like the goat Gouda. I once had a blue Gouda that was fantastic.

Diverging from the Gouda for a moment... (Despite how much fun it is to say "goat Gouda". I could say it over and over.) ...Anyone mentioned Piave? It's an Italian hard cheese (though not flinty like the really *old* Gouda) and it's awfully nice.

#130 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 01:34 AM:

Smoked Gouda is certainly a Dutch food as well. I've had it; it makes me want to drink Lapsang Souchong tea.

#131 ::: Zelda ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 01:41 AM:

Elliott @ 127: Thanks! I'll put that on the list for the SO's next TJ's run. Should stave off any future Limburger incidents.

#132 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 02:26 AM:

Benjamin, I forget if you have a car with you in Berkeley, but if you find yourself with too much time and money and not enough scenery and cheese on your hands, Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes Station is worth the trip. (And since you mentioned currently sounding like an elephant seal, some of the real ones hang out on Pt. Reyes, though probably not many this time of year; there's a bigger crowd of them in Ano Nuevo, which is a bit north of Santa Cruz.)

Also, we've got a group that gets together for dinner weekly, usually in the South Bay, but occasionally in Berkeley, and we'll be at Lucky Thai/Lao on University next Wednesday.

#133 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 03:38 AM:

abi @80, yes, I think I was thinking of vla. Thank you.

KateShaw @90, yes! (I think one of the times I ordered a spinach pizza (may have had feta on it, I'm not sure) the people I was out with found it a bit weird, but it was clearly worth it.)

David Harmon @117, what are the escamoles doing on that list? What's wrong with something that has "the consistency of cottage cheese" and tastes "buttery and slightly nutty"? Sounds like a nice combination of traits to me. And served in a taco with guacamole? I should try to find this stuff some day. Sure, there's the business of where it comes from, but given that people eat oysters...

Erik Nelson @121, it's probably close enough to lutefisk that listing it might have been like listing the same thing twice.

#134 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 05:26 AM:

abi #130: Smoked Gouda is certainly a Dutch food as well. I've had it; it makes me want to drink Lapsang Souchong tea.

Crown jewel of the Dutch East Indies tea-growing industry? heh.

#135 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 06:47 AM:

Erik Nelson #121: Raphael #133: Hey, I didn't write the list, it was just the quickest way for me to check the name and link a write-up of casa marzu. Such lists are always incomplete, uneven and idiosyncratic; compare the selections of "Steve, Don't Eat It!", which leans even harder on origin-squick.

At various times and places, humans have ventured to eat practically everything on the planet (occasionally dying of it). That's a lot of territory to cover....

#136 ::: Joris ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 07:16 AM:

I don't recall ever seeing proper gouda in a smoked variety, in contrast to some smoked cheddars. However, there is a smoked cheese readily available but this is shaped as a sausage and based on a cheese-melt. This is the quintessential dutch smoked cheese (rookkaas).

#137 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 08:34 AM:

Bruce 128: And most special when the basil is sprinkled on a slice of the tomato

Sprinkled? Are you using DRIED basil? No, no, the fresh mutz with tomato and basil assumes fresh basil, preferably in whole crunchy leaves. In fact, I would use sun-dried tomatos (the oil kind, not the dry kind) in winter, but not dried basil.

That said, your recipe does sound tasty, though fresh mutz doesn't melt well. I'd use grocery store mutz for that.

Raphael 133: David Harmon @117, what are the escamoles doing on that list?

They're fucking ANT EGGS. From POISONOUS ANTS. Poisonous GIANT ants. Ewwwwwwwwwwww.

Of course, I eat bee barf and like it.

David 135: At various times and places, humans have ventured to eat practically everything on the planet (occasionally dying of it).

And occasionally tried to die by eating something and discovered that they could survive on it (possibly-apocryphal origins of tapioca).

#138 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 09:42 AM:

Xopher @137, "Of course, I eat bee barf and like it."

Err, yes, that's kind of my point.

#139 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 10:09 AM:

Sounding like an angry elephant seal was yesterday morning, before the 9am section I taught. The truly impressive coughs have mostly gone away, which is good (for the record, Guaifenesin and cough suppressants are good ideas if one is coughing and has to teach).

I do not own a car these days - I sold mine before I left Nashville - but I may have to go there at some point anyway. Maybe when the folks are in town...

In terms of dinner next Wednesday, I am interested, but I need to check my schedule (which is getting busy; as I recall, I am helping to write an exam the following evening). Drop me an email - bwolfe [dot] global [at] gmail

#140 ::: Nickp ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 11:10 AM:

Appenzeller is definitely my favorite, the cheese I would choose if I were limited to only one cheese for the rest of my life. It makes me sad that I can't find Appenzeller Surchoix where I live.

I'm currently enjoying Green Hill, a runny Camembert kind of thing made in Georgia (USA).

As a child, I ate a cheese and marmite sandwich almost every day for lunch and still do as frequently as possible. A combination made in heaven

#141 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 11:59 AM:

Elliott, #127: I'm afraid that "dry and full of crystals" indicates to me "this cheese has been left unwrapped for too long" more than anything else. I don't think I would enjoy a cheddar aged to that point no matter how sharp it was, because to me it would be over-the-hill. Also, in passing, my experience of white cheddar has been... unfortunate, so I tend not to trust it.

Xopher, #137: ObSF: Bug butter! Miles even calls it "bug vomit".

#142 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 12:08 PM:

And the Spice Melange really is fermented worm poop.

#143 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 12:29 PM:

Lee #141:

One of the Ford's Farm Brit cheddars CM sells (the Coastal, I think) comes just barely crystallized, and is much improved by it. Sweet and salty at the same time.

#144 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 01:34 PM:

Serge @142, courtesy of Tom Smith:

"The Spice Melange is cinnamon sweet--
I put it on 'most everything I eat,
It's addictive too--
And don't it make my brown eyes, don't it make my brown eyes,
Don't it make my brown eyes blue..."

#145 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 01:59 PM:

ebear @ #41:

But? Brie (or Camembert) wrapped in puff pastry, baked for 10-20 minutes and served with cloudberry jam is So Good! Also, it's one of the cheeses I grew up eating (in addition to "household cheese", "priest cheese", "knight's cheese", "cream cheese" (hard cream-based cheese; also assorted cream-based fresh cheeses, usually spiced), "vodka cheese" and other tasty things).

#146 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 02:06 PM:

Around here (Minneapolis), I can find Black Diamond cheddar and real Parmesan, often Gruyere, and usually one or two other quite good, if not exotic, cheeses in ordinary grocery stores (deli section, not dairy) (Cub and Rainbow, for those who know the area).

And much greater variety at Lunds, Byerly's, and Kowalski's. (I don't think "cheese guy" still works at the Lake Street Lunds, but when he did, the selection there was outstanding.)

And better than that up at the Surdyks cheese shop. I wonder if the new place on Lake Street will be any use? (Surdyks is very dangerous; huge wine and liquor store, very good cheese shop, AND they're next door to the one remaining professional camera store in town.)

I don't know why, but Minneapolis seems to have a startlingly better grocery store situation than anywhere else I've heard of.

#147 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 02:22 PM:

Erik Nelson @ #121:

It also omits sourherring ("surströmming"), a fish concoction that makes lutfisk seem rather pleasant (actually, I don't mind the flavour of lye-fish, just the texture and its incredible blandness, as all flavour has been washed out during the preservation).

#148 ::: Pamela Dean ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 02:31 PM:

You have inadvertently resolved a minor mystery that has taunted me for years: Why is there a windmill on the package of my favorite kind of soy cheese? The soy cheese is called Soya Kaas. It claims to have been manufactured in Saddle Brook, NJ for PANOS Brands, which is apparently not a Dutch company, and to have been invented by a couple named MacIntyre in Florida, but apparently they wanted to invoke Dutch cheeses somehow, so: the Dutch word for cheese, and a windmill!

I'm not sure that this doesn't just deepen the mystery, actually.


#149 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 02:36 PM:

Lee @141 said in re cheddar: I'm afraid that "dry and full of crystals" indicates to me "this cheese has been left unwrapped for too long" more than anything else. I don't think I would enjoy a cheddar aged to that point no matter how sharp it was, because to me it would be over-the-hill. Also, in passing, my experience of white cheddar has been...unfortunate, so I tend not to trust it.

Crumbly and crystalled is something I've occasionally had in quite-aged cheeses. The Australian Boxing Cheddar (mit kangaroo-in-gloves on the label. It's a very cute logo, but I can't find it online anywhere) isn't THAT aged, but it makes my Ontario-born husband admit it's properly sharp, which hardly any supermarket cheese down here does, no matter how many years the label claims it was aged.

Tillamook 'extra-sharp' is good medium-sharp kid or snacking cheese by our standards: enough flavor to not be colby or jack, but not in any way 'extra'. The ABC is considerably sharper, and widely available.

There's something we get (I don't have one handy to quote the label or exact brand) that's called something like Irish Farmhouse Cheddar, that I think we get at TJ's (so not 'widely' available, but not obscure either), that IS crumbly-dry and crystalled, and I can't eat it in thick pieces or more than a few in a sitting. Quite flavorful and sharp. Really good cut into TINY mince and sprinkled over a bowl of hot buttered noodles.

#150 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 02:44 PM:

Pamela @148:

I am irresistibly reminded of a passage from Murder Must Advertise:

"...Your story is, of course, that Daryfields' 'Green Pastures' Margarine is everything that the best butter ought to be and only costs ninepence a pound. And they like a cow in the picture."

"Why? Is it made of cow-fat?"

"Well, I daresay it is, but you mustn't say so. People wouldn't like the idea. The picture of the cow suggests the taste of butter, that's all. And the name—Green Pastures—suggests cows, you see.:

I suppose that I could be construed to be alledging (by analogy) that your soya kaas of being made of windmills. Or, perhaps, Dutch people. But I trust you know what I really mean.

#151 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 02:58 PM:

Zelda @ #131 wrote

Should stave off any future Limburger incidents.

The Limburger Incident would make another excellent band name (or possibly a spy fiction title).

#152 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 03:02 PM:

Cadbury #151:

Perhaps a Stross Laundry title?

#153 ::: Dan Hoey ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 03:04 PM:

Serge@142 — That's why they call them "makers".

#154 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 03:29 PM:

#1 hit on Google for "The Limburger Incident" is a Facebook account of a school prank that is rather amusing.

#155 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 04:14 PM:

CM, #154: Heh. Reminds me that one of the legendary dorm pranks at Vandy, if you were really pissed at everyone else on your hall, was to unfasten the ventilator grate over the doorway and stick an opened 1-cup carton of milk into the pipe (on the downwind side, of course!), then put the grate back. Wait until the smell was good and ripe, then remove the carton and spirit it out to a public trash can before maintenance tracked it down. Not that I ever knew anyone who actually did this, but it was in the lore.

#156 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 05:31 PM:

lee @155: a similar thing happened at my high school, only it was squid from the dissection lesson in biology, and the actual frame of the door itself: they had to get someone in with a cutting torch to get the squid out.

#157 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 07:58 PM:

@ 137:
Sprinkled? Are you using DRIED basil?

No, of course not, I pick the leaves off the plant on the deck outside the living room, chop them semi-fine with my cleaver, and sprinkle them on the tomato.

though fresh mutz doesn't melt well

True. That's why I specified browning rather than melting. The cheese is soft enough that melting isn't necessary; the browning gives it a slightly nutty flavor and heats the cheese to match the temperature of the outside of the tomato. Sun-dried tomatoes will work, but I prefer fresh tomatoes (and I have a farmer's market about half a mile from me on the weekends; getting them in the summer is easy), so this tends to be a seasonal recipe for me. And I have loved fresh beefsteak tomatoes since I was a teenager living in rural Pennsylvania just across the Delaware River from New Jersey (there's a reason they call it the Garden State).

And it's not just to make you forget about the refineries and the swamps.

#158 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 08:55 PM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers), #128, that's almost a margherita pizza. I brought two-thirds of one home for the next two days.

#159 ::: Trinker ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 09:58 PM:

Ah, cheese. Watch out, I have an avalanche to unleash.

People have mentioned Rainbow Grocery. It's worth taking a peek at Gordonzola's journal (over at LJ), or picking up his book. He's an amazing ambassador of cheese.

I discovered cumin gouda back when I lived in the Bay Area. (I know how it's pronounced, but I maintain that the American version is properly pronounced American-style, as gooduh. ;) It's my very favorite cheese for saucing pasta - gemelli with a cumin gouda-in-roux sauce. Nom!

My favorite cheese shop experience is in Montreal, at the Jean Talon market - I don't remember the name...Fromagerie something, I'm sure. Ben and I introduced the cheesemongers to the concept of "omakase" (I just now noticed the crosslingual pun!) and had them select a flight of cheeses for us. It was (alas!) on the way back to the U.S. by car, and we weren't sure what customs would allow us to transport. (Turned out they would have allowed anything hard.) So there was some frantic gobbling while I attempted to look up the regulations via Aircard. It was divine.

It was one of the best memories of my time with Ben, to explore Middle Eastern markets and Russian deli counters. Russian standard cheese is creamy and luscious, and I got to know an oil-preserved herbed fresh (Armenian?) cheese that was far too pungent for my tastes (and I love natto and think Limburger (at least the sort I tried) is meh!). And halloumi! No one's talked about halloumi yet, or the fabulous Georgian cheese pies. Or Karelian pie - worth trying once for an insight into Finnish cuisine.

And lastly...I grew up with family who do *not* have a cheese heritage. I'm amused to see my older child is a cheese snob, and will happily nosh on spendy cheeses, but turns up his nose at the cheap bits that American children are supposed to like. (I only wish my current budget was up to his tastes.)

#160 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2010, 10:30 PM:

Bruce 157: No, of course not, I pick the leaves off the plant on the deck outside the living room, chop them semi-fine with my cleaver, and sprinkle them on the tomato.

A relief. I should have known. Sorry.

I personally like my basil leaves whole when possible. I can see why that wouldn't work for the use you describe, but...well, I may have mentioned here before the time I used those Vietnamese spring roll wrappers to bind together fresh mozzarella, sundried tomatos, and a basil leaf; I put the basil leaf in the outermost layer so that it showed through the spring roll wrapper. Those rolls vanished in MUCH less time than it took to make them.

#161 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2010, 01:32 AM:

Xopher@160: I don't remember you mentioning that! OMnomnom.

#162 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2010, 01:34 AM:

Bill Stewart: Let me know when it's in my/our area next?

Ben: Pt. Reyes is so worth going to, but plan for a weekend, the trails are great, and even with horses, three days wasn't enough.

#163 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2010, 02:39 AM:

We used to go to Pt. Reyes for day trips to the beach. (This is funny because it's pretty reliably overcast and windy, and the water is cold, and the undertow means you don't want to be in it anyway.)

We'd bring triangular kites from the local Payless, and eat hot dogs cooked on straightened-coathanger spits (they always got sand in them). We'd come home windburned, sunburned through the cloud layer, and with shredded and broken kites.

Pt. Reyes is also the setting for one of those anecdotes about my parents that keep me winning "weird childhood" conversations; it's about what my dad did when he was getting too much sand in his clothes while jumping off a low sand cliff.

I didn't even know about the cheese.

#164 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2010, 04:00 AM:

abi: You don't? I sense an expedition.


#165 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2010, 05:45 AM:

Could the putatively Armenian cheese have been Van otlu peynir?

Keeping it in oil sounds like a good idea. Round here, almost every cheese we have gets kept in brine, which kills the flavor.

Halloumi/hellim peynir is also good cooked, or as a pizza topping, and seems to be able to survive being kept in brine.

#166 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2010, 09:18 AM:

If you find yourselves in the region of Leamington Spa in Warwickshire, you should visit Country Bumpkins on Warwick Street. It has a wonderful selection of cheeses, many of which are locally-produced.

But you probably won’t find the cheese I encountered in France -- Gris de Lille, an aged and salted version of Maroilles. It is also known as le Vieux Puant (Old Stinky), and apparently it’s an offence to carry it on public transport, although this may have been a local joke.

I was 16, and staying in Arras with my pen-friend Claude and his family. At dinner, Claude’s father offered me some of this cheese with the words “ça pu comme une chiotte”. The family was then highly amused at the fact that I knew the vulgar word for toilet. The cheese did in fact smell like a shit-house, but tasted delicious.

#167 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2010, 09:28 AM:

(I think that should be " ...pue comme une chiotte.")

#168 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2010, 09:59 AM:

Cadbury Moose #154: Not for me it isn't; I'm getting "Biker Mice from Mars". Adding "prank" gets an assortment of similar pranks, mostly involving cars or other vehicles.

#169 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2010, 12:39 PM:

abi @ 163: Back in August when I took my son for a whirlwind trip to CA, I made sure to drive us out to Pt. Reyes. We spent the day on the beach, getting sunburned and observing all sorts of wildlife. Alas, he did not want to walk the earthquake trail, which I had hoped to see again after all those years.

We did stop in at the bakery in town for excellent brownies and juice on our way home. Had I known about the creamery, I would have stopped there too.

Well, all the more reason to go visit again!

#170 ::: y ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2010, 01:19 PM:

Point Reyes was also the site of some memorable Hiking Club trips, including the one where we went up and down the cliffs several times--toward the north end, where it isn't really advisable--just to see if it could be done. Oh, and the gourmet trips, of course.

#171 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2010, 03:33 PM:

I have fond memories of day trips to Point Reyes during the 6 years we lived in Davis and San Jose (and really wanted to live in San Francisco but couldn't possibly afford it). Our German shepherd loved chasing the seagulls and the surf.

#172 ::: Pamela Dean ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2010, 04:16 PM:

abi@150: Hee. Now I am considering whether my cheese is made WITH soya or FROM soya.

As for the package, yeah. Kaas suggests cheese! Windmills suggest... stoneground cheese?


#173 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2010, 04:20 PM:

Pamela @172:
Now I am considering whether my cheese is made WITH soya or FROM soya.

That's the best laugh I've had all day.

#174 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2010, 05:40 PM:

tykewriter @ 167... It makes me feel all nostalgic to read that phrase in French.

#175 ::: Trinker ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2010, 05:08 AM:

praisegod barebones @ 165 -

No, it wasn't van otlu peynir. It was formed into balls, about 3-4cm in diameter, rolled in spices. The texture was a bit like slightly dried cream cheese. Not quite as dense. The shopkeeper told us it was hard to get in the U.S.

For some reason, it was *orange* inside. Sort of a tan orange.

I'm told most cheeses preserve well in oil. I never tried it to find out.

#176 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2010, 01:12 AM:

Oh, I think I may have had some of this once, down in Antakya (Antioch), but I can't remember the name of it either. From what I remember, it was not only herbed, but spicy: I'd assumed that that was because some kind of red pepper of chilli was incorporated into it, which might account for the colour.

#177 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2010, 01:25 AM:

We're fortunate in having a local store that carries a wide range of cheeses. My housemate and I decided that as it was Saturday, we needed to have a party, so we bought several experimental cheeses, and several experimental types of crackers, and several experimental ciders, and invited everyone else in the house to join us over tablecloths and candlelight with the sun coming in at the windows. Delicious and delightful and so summery...

#178 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2010, 03:10 AM:

trinker: Oil is good for cheeses, but... not if they have garlic. It leads to botulism.

#179 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2010, 08:54 AM:

I've been trying ,since the beginning of this thread to avoid starting my usual rant about the quality of (mostly mass-produced) Turkish cheeses. Temptation is strong, however, and I herebhy succumb. There are one or two nice artisanal ones, but anything you can find in a supermarket is likely to have the life drained out of it by brining.

There are a couple of exceptions - a hard, crumbly, slightly melting substance called Erzinjan Tulum (Tulum is a strange word,† meaning either a kind of cheese, a sheep's stomach or a musical instrument akin to an armful of bagpipes, which is eating with walnuts and flat bread as an aperitif; and a goat's cheese from Thrace with the consistency of a cream cheese, which makes - among other things a superb pizza topping, especially when combined with rocket. (What is this arugula of which you speak ? - have you been suddenly struck by lycanthropy.)

All of which makes life very hard for my wife, who is from a nation the variety and reputed excellence of whose cheeses is supposed to leave it on the verge of ungovernability. Her theory is that the problem is really that the Turks regard cheese as a breakfast food, and so not worth developing subtle flavours in. I find this hard to believe, since olives are also a breakfast food, and Turkish olives are excellent.

Both of us were amused, howeever to find, in our local supermarket a tin of a substance maufactured in Denmark, labelled in Italian, and apparently shipped via South Africa, which proclaimed its manufactory 'the home of true Camembert'. It turned out, - for we could not resist buying such a widely travelled foodstuff - to have slightly less flavour than a sheet of rice paper.

†almost as polysemous as the German 'auflauf', which depending on context can apparently mean either a riotous assembly, or a souffle.

#180 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2010, 09:20 AM:

praisegod barebones @179:
(Tulum is a strange word,† meaning either a kind of cheese, a sheep's stomach or a musical instrument akin to an armful of bagpipes, which is eating with walnuts and flat bread as an aperitif

One wonders what, precisely, this bagpipe-like musical instrument is eating with walnuts and flat bread. I suspect it's a closing parenthesis mark.

#181 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2010, 11:52 AM:


You're right - it munched through a week's supply while I was away seeing to something in the kitchen between Preview and Post, somehow also transforming 'eaten' into 'eating'.

Having been on the premisses a while, it may also have got hold of a stray 'of' between 'bottle' and 'vodka' in the maceration post above.

#182 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2010, 12:05 PM:

abi @ 180: With some of the bagpipes I have encountered, I would not be so certain...although walnuts and flatbread would be a rather tame and civilised diet for some of them.

(During a set break the other night I had a conversation with a fellow who naturally assumed I would be repelled by the idea of haggis. I had to point out to him that, as a Jewish kid from the northeast, I had grown up eating chopped liver.)

ObCheese: I thought Kerry Gold reserve cheddar, aged two years, had some promise when I saw it yesterday. It was a cut above Supermarket Cheddar #284, but with this conversation putting me in the mood...I disappoint.

#183 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2010, 12:57 PM:

re words. I forget the Russian verb, which can mean to remove a picture from the wall, something else innocuous, or to strip off one's clothing.

Use of the imperative requires careful context.

(grumbles about verbiaries being in storage)

#184 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2010, 01:19 PM:

Terry Karney @ 183

Could it be отнимать? (My first thought was снимать, but that has as one of its meanings to take a photo', which I'm guessing would have stuck in your mind along with the other two meanings.)

#185 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2010, 01:35 PM:

praisegod barebones @181:

Well parried. I'll fix the post. Being, however, capricious and cruel, I won't fix your comment.

(Wanders off, cackling evilly)

#186 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2010, 01:41 PM:

D'Oh. I have - I now remember - a Russian-English dictionary in the flat (but not an English-Russian one), and it reveals to me that my instincts about Russian are considerably better than my ability to guess what might or might not stick in Terry Karney's mind.

отнимать means to subtract, to wean or to amputate - with the context presumably making clear which of these is intended - while снимать appears to be the verb Terry had in mind. (In addition to the meanings canvassed so far,it also appears to mean 'to cut cards' and 'to rent a flat')

#187 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2010, 02:02 PM:

Yes!, снимать. It was rent a flat which was escaping me. Cutting cards I don't recall, but we got a lot of stuff in a really short chunk of time, sometimes I wonder any of it stuck at all.

#188 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2010, 02:55 PM:

The 'нять/нимать' root is an interesting one, since as well as those two verbs, it also seems to be embedded in 'понимать/понять' (to understand). I've never been able to see any rhyme or reason there, unlike some of the other compounds.

Which reminds me: next to my Russian dictionary - or on a neighbouring shelf, at any rate - is my copy of the Oxford Book of Contemporary Verse, containing a poem by D.J.Enright , which begins

'The verb 'to think'
Is represented by the same sign as
'To long for', 'to be sad',
'To be unable to forget'

and which ends

'Unwise it is, in the long watches
Where the wind litters the empty streets
To be reading a Japanese lexicon
And to be unable to forget'

(I couldn't find a version on-line, or I would have linked to it but I felt it wasn't right to post the whole thing.)

#189 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2010, 06:03 PM:

praisegod barebones @181, Tulum's that Mayan city down on the Yucatan coast... :-) More to the point, there's a reason for the word being used both for sheep and goat parts and also for bagpipes - just about every culture in Europe or the Middle East that raises goats takes the skin, sticks reed-pipes in some of the leg holes, optionally adds decoration, and makes their local version of bagpipes with it.

The cheeses I've had in Turkish restaurants over here have mostly been feta, but I think some dishes have had more melty versions of cheese on top.

#190 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2010, 06:08 PM:

Terry@49, you talked about aging cheeses at home. Do you just cover them well and leave them in the refrigerator, or is there anything else you need to do? Leaving a block or two of Tillamook in the bottom drawer seems like something I should try, if that works...

#191 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2010, 05:02 AM:

Bill Stewart: The trick is to keep them from molding. The canonic way of doing that with cheddar is to have it waxed. If one gets a semihard cheese which is waxed, it will age fairly well.

The other things to do is get larger blocks, and keep them dry and cool.

#192 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2010, 03:33 PM:

Bill Stewart 189

More to the point, there's a reason for the word being used both for sheep and goat parts and also for bagpipes - just about every culture in Europe or the Middle East that raises goats takes the skin, sticks reed-pipes in some of the leg holes, optionally adds decoration, and makes their local version of bagpipes with it.

You're right, of course - many's the time, when I lived in St. Andrews that I'd hear a piper coax a haunting piobaicheard from his 'haggis'.

#193 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2011, 06:38 AM:

HL dairy-related N: man learns from facebook that an acquaintance is at a meeting of the Anglo-Dutch cheese council. Googling to discover whether such a body actually exists he learns that 'Dutch cheese' was once Cockney slang for a bald person.

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