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your favorite cheese

  • a

yes, cheese. I've recently been exposed to a bunch of new imported varieties at a local gourmet/wine store. I've tried some wonderful hard and soft asiago, a great creamy Taleggio, an intriguing mustard cheese called Red Dragon, etc. I've always loved a good provolone, (mild) swiss, gouda, cheddar, colby or jack. But some of these imports are truly divine. My fave thus far: a German cheese called Bruder Basel, smoked by monks. It practically melts in your mounth, imparting a smoky flavor.

when i want to eat like a king on Fridays without any cooking, I go to the aforementioned store, pick up several kinds of imported cheese, some fresh bread (usually baguettes or focaccia), some fruit and nuts, and some beer and wine, go to my girlfriends (who often boils up some shrimp) and go to town. I usually eat quickly to a fault, but when i linger over my tray of delectables by the glow of the TV (ahhh, Friday Night Fights) I often nibble for hours, but never to excess. It is a feast that takes about 5 minutes to prepare (heat bread, arrange tray, maybe boil shrimp, and cut cheese as i go) and makes me (and the girlfriend) really happy. It costs less than $20 or $30 (with drinks).

now the question--- what is your favorite cheese? does anyone else engage in rituals like this? I'm not a wine lover (as of yet), but when i eat like this i could see how one could get carried away. pure enjoyments.

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  1. Your Friday night ritual is one we've often done on festive occasions, especially New Year's Eve--relaxing, little work, great flavor. My favorite now is imported aged Asiago and Maytag blue (in fact just finished a chunk. Best blue I've ever had --creamy, yet still winningly crumbly, and sharp.Great as is, wonderful with a ripe pear, adds a real kick to filet mignon crumbled over the top.

    3 Replies
    1. re: berkleybabe
      y
      yvonne johnson

      mmmm, blue cheese, Shropshire Blue is my favorite along with stilton and a nice port.

      1. re: yvonne johnson

        A super-creamy Dolcelatte is my current crush - melts instantly into a beautiful sauce on hot pasta, bit of olive oil, chopped walnuts and cashews, oooooh baby.

        As with all the previous correspondents, however, I like cheese and cheese and cheese. Wensleydale with pears... squidgy mozzarella... little chunks of mature cheddar and apple mixed into a freshly-made coleslaw... stinky Saint-Agur...

        Excuse me, I have to go and ram-raid the deli.

        1. re: joe muggs

          To all of you who crave the blues, beg your cheese monger to get Le Vieux Berger Roquefort. Thee best Roquefort, no exceptions. I love Gorgonzola Dolcelatte, Stilton, almost all of the blues. This Roquefort rises to the top.

    2. j
      Jason "bite off the bat head" Perlow

      I like all cheeses, but:

      Gorgonzola. The stinkier the better. No blue veined cheese comes even close.

      1. b
        bill pisarra, jr

        This is like trying to name my favorite Beatles song.

        Once a French in-law, fresh off the plane from Paris, dumped a pile of live cheeses on my table...that night was one of my peak experiences.

        Brie, I think.

        No...pecorino Romano.

        No...a raw milk cheddar.

        No...She Said She Said.

        Cheese is god. I have some pretty serious health probs that demand moderatation with fatty foods, and I do well with those demands and still eat well...but the one and only place I fall down, willingly, is cheese. I just can't compromise on that. I don't want to live without it, even if it kills me.

        A stinking blue cheese, with port and walnuts.

        No...the little cubes of provolone mom would slip me.

        Or the warm mozzarella chunks you'd steal off the kitchen counter when grandma was setting up pizzas and not looking.

        Or..grating Ricotta Salata on a fresh tomato sauce.

        Forget it, I can't decide!

        >>a German cheese called Bruder Basel, smoked by monks

        I smoked that too, but recommend a pipe. It is really hard to roll.

        1. I live for cheese, and I repeat a slightly more subdued version of your ritual most nights. Early in the evening I take the night's cheese out of the refrigerator so it can come to room temp (not sure who said that cold cheese "is not fit to eat," but I agree).

          I can eat it solo just fine, but lately have been really into my home made version of quince paste (quarter quince, cook in red wine...sauternes-like dessert wines also work well...run through food mill or process without skins, sweeten with a bit with honey, add lemon juice and zest, maybe reduce the cooking liquid before adding fruit back...eat with cheese).

          This is unbelievably good with almost any cheese...my current faves are a local full cream extra sharp cheddar from Bandon Creamery, Juniper Grove's Tome (a very nice goat cheese from Redmond, Oregon), and any young pecorino I can find or convince someone coming back from Italy to bring me (pecorino and honey is another great combo).

          I had French explorateur (triple cream) with Champagne grapes, toasted walnuts, and Bosc pear at Bluehour recently, and it was great, too.

          Jim

          Link: http://www.realgoodfood.com

          1. l
            Leslie Brenner

            Livarot, Pont L'Eveque, Epoisses, Muenster--unpasteurized and artisanally produced, if possible. Really fresh chevres, especially the little ones from Dordogne and the Lot Valley called cabecou. Can't get them here, because they're not fresh enough. Great Roqueforts, great Stiltons. Brebis (sheep's milk cheese) from Basque country. Runny Tallegio. Fresh mozarella that's still warm. I had a great artisanally-produced domestic blue, and I'm trying to remember what it was. Will rack my brain. Really ripe Teleme Jack from The Cheese Board in Berkeley.

            14 Replies
            1. re: Leslie Brenner
              y
              yvonne johnson

              "great artisanally-produced domestic blue": Let us know if you remember, Leslie!

              Also I wish having cheese rather than or before/after dessert would really catch on in US. I'd rather do without s/thing sweet after a good meal and have cheese. (The myth that you have nightmares after eating blue cheese at night is unfounded!)

              1. re: yvonne johnson
                m
                Melanie Wong

                If a restaurant has a decent selection of cheeses in good condition, I'll almost always choose the cheese plate with some fresh fruit instead of dessert. I enjoy finishing off the remainder of the dinner wine(s) with the cheeses and seeing how they change in the new combination.

                1. re: Melanie Wong
                  a
                  Alexandra Eisler

                  Today's SF Chronicle has a list of local restaurants with a cheese course...

                  1. re: Alexandra Eisler
                    m
                    Melanie Wong

                    I'm north of the Gate today and can't find it in the local edition Friday section or the web.

                    When I want something sweet with cheese, nothing beats a goaty Banon from Provence with some lavender honey and a glass of Muscat de Beaumes de Venise.

                2. re: yvonne johnson
                  l
                  Leslie Brenner

                  Okay, Yvonne--I'm racking my brain! It was something I bought a few months ago at Murray's Cheese Shop in NYC.

                  1. re: Leslie Brenner

                    Was it possibly Maytag blue?
                    In a non-blue vein, has anyone else tried a Dutch goat cheese called Dorothea? It's pure white, a great melter, and tastes as if it has garlic and sausage inside. (but of course it doesn't) I've gotten it delivered via igourmet.com and purchased it in person from Dean and Deluca. Have tried to tell the kind folks at Murray's about it as well.
                    And another vote for Cypress Grove's Humboldt Fog!

                    1. re: Liza
                      l
                      Leslie Brenner

                      No, I do like Maytag Blue, but this one is a small, artisanally produced blue that comes from either Colorado or Vermont (weird, I know, but I hesitated between the two). It'll come back, I'm sure...

                      1. re: Leslie Brenner
                        w
                        wendy jackson

                        Could it be Great Hill Blue that you are thinking of? It's made somewhere in Massachusetts. I really loved this cheese when I first tried it 3 years ago. Lately, it seems that the veining hasn't been quite as developed as it was originally. Still delicious, though.

                        1. re: wendy jackson

                          Just sampled this today at the Portland Public Market. It's very nice -- soft & creamy, more reminiscent of Gorgonzola than Maytag, which tends to be crumblier. No match for Stilton (lacks the mellowness & complexity), but still pretty good.

                          1. re: wendy jackson
                            l
                            Leslie Brenner

                            Great Hill Blue rings a bell. I think it must be one of the two I was considering. The one I chose was more creamy than crumbly. Does that sound like Great Hill?

                      2. re: Leslie Brenner
                        y
                        yvonne johnson

                        i've been on a search for the mystery blue. Here are my results so far:

                        1. Berkshire blue, Great Barrington, MA: "made by one person’s hands…and one type [unspecified!] of cow’s milk. A wonderful, rustic, farmhouse blue" (murray’s catalogue). I don’t know if it was just the bit I got, but this cheese was really ripe. Yes, it was creamy in parts, but the veins were like rope, and the bottom of the cheese next to foil was so strong I couldn’t eat it. I’ll try it again tho, as I liked the consistency. Reminded me a bit of bresse bleu (which I can’t seem to find).

                        2. Bingham Rustic blue, Fort Collins, CO, also from Murray’s. I didn’t realize it till I got home, but this is a hard blue cheese. A bit like parmesan. This isn’t the mystery blue, but it is different and mellow tasting. A nice change. I see it won a Cheese Society Award.

                        Note on service at Murray’s: unhelpful and grumpy! I found this to be the case in past too.

                        3. Great Blue Hill, also from MA. I bought this at Gourmet Garage (NYC, 7th Ave). This tasted a bit like danish blue and so it’s not for me. I’m not a regular customer here so don’t know what the quality of their cheeses is like.

                        4. Foure d’ambert (french blue). Got a round of this from Jefferson Mkt. This is my favorite on this list. Texture is a bit like stilton, not creamy to the touch, but melts in your mouth. It’s taking me some weeks to get thru the big round (my husband doesn’t like blue cheese, so it’s all for me!), and it keeps very well indeed. And it tastes good even straight out of the fridge.

                        If you’re reading along, Leslie, I think the artisanally-produced blue might be the Berkshire Blue. I asked about a blue from VT, and the server at Murray's said they didn’t have one. Doesn't matter--this chowhounding is a lot of fun.

                        1. re: yvonne johnson
                          l
                          Leslie Brenner

                          By George, Yvonne, I think you've got it! I'm 99.9% sure it was the Berkshire Blue. It was, however, in perfect condition when I bought it. Not at all ropy, but creamy (which I'm actually not usually too crazy about, I"m more of a crumbly blue person), deeply flavorful.

                          Thanks so much for looking into this--I actually did lose some sleep over it!

                          I'm sorry to hear about your experiences at Murray's--I've always had great service there.

                          1. re: Leslie Brenner
                            y
                            yvonne johnson

                            yes, i think i was unlucky. I'm going to give the berkshire another go with a nice port. Cheers!