Monday, June 4, 2012

How to Learn More About Cheese

For the uninitiated, cheese can be a bit intimidating. The good stuff can be expensive and buying it is a commitment. What if you don't like it? Isn't it easier to buy a triangle of generic brie or that herbed cream cheese stuff and be done with it? You could do that but you would be missing out. Here are two easy ways to learn more about cheese.

Order the cheese course at a restaurant.  Hopefully, this cheese course comes with a person to describe the cheeses to you or, barring that, good written descriptions. Pick out some interesting ones that sound good to you. And, here is the really, really, really important thing ... write down the names of the ones that you like.  Just scratch it on the back of the receipt and transfer it somewhere more permanent later. Or just throw the receipts with cheese ideas in a little box on your desk.  Figure out a system for it, it's worth it.

Go to a grocery store with a good cheese selection and hopefully someone to make a recommendation (try Whole Foods). Try a few cheeses, buy one you like, take it home and enjoy it. Write down the name.

Over time you will find that you probably have some fairly clear likes and dislikes. This does not take long. I am a fan of washed rind cow's milk cheese, the stinkier the better (the photo for this post was taken in Epoisses, France where Epoisses - a stinky cow's milk cheese - is made). I would never say no to a regular old triple cream cheese either (try Mt. Tam from Cowgirl Creamery.) I also like smoked cheddar and really most cheddars now that I think about it.  Goat cheese, on the other hand, does not do much for me. That said, I am always open to learning more!

What are some of your favorite cheeses?