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Your favorite out-of-ordinary cheese?

  • h

What are your favorite out-of-the-ordinary cheeses? By out-of-the-ordinary, I mean those which are not found in the supermarket, or are not common.

I have four. They are:
(1) Morbier. Morbier has a texture fairly close to that of Jarlsberg, but without the holes. This is a cheese from the south of France, I believe, and actually is found in some supermarkets.

(2) any ripened cheese made with goat's milk. I first discovered these cheeses years ago in Switzerland, and they're like brie or camembert in texture, but have a nice tang imparted by the goat's milk.

(3) dolce gorgonzola This is gorgonzola that's more "plastic"--i.e. "creamy" or "spreadable" and not crumbly--than regular blue cheese. It has a sweet taste--the sweetness is not a regular, sugar-like sweetness, but is probably a milk-sweet taste (I suppose the sugar is probably lactose).

(4) years ago, I used to like another plastic/spreadable cheese called Gourmandise. This was, I believe, some kind of process cheese, and came in 2 flavors, walnut and kirsch. I haven't seen it in a while, but it was very good--mellow, not sharp.

What cheeses, either by name or by type, do others like and recommend?

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  1. w
    Wallace & Gromit Fan

    The first thought is to say Wensleydale because it is so prominently part of the W&G plot, "A Grand Day Out."

    But, for my every day eating, I love Humboldt Fog which is an artisinal creamy blue out of Northern California

    AND

    Boucheron, a buttery, creamy goat which is exceptional with Sauterne.

    13 Replies
    1. re: Wallace & Gromit Fan

      There's blue-ing in Humboldt Fog?? Don't recall seeing any in the pieces I've had.... A great cheese, nevertheless; I just don't remember there being blue-ness within.

      That said, I'll put in my vote for Cabrales, a gnarly-looking (even by blue cheese standards) Spanish blue conjured up from a mixture of cow, sheep, and goat milks, if memory serves. A great, great cheese.

      And a flag-waving vote for Sonoma County's own Vella Dry Jack, especially their super-aged Reserve (which I dunno if you can get outside of their own store). I've seen the regular "cuvee" at Whole Foods.

      1. re: Mark Lee

        Humboldt Fog is actually a creamy artisanal chevre which is quite exceptional, though I'm not sure it's worth the $25/lb (at least in Chicago). The bluish streak running through the middle of the wheel is actually vegetable ash, also responsible for the streak in the aforementioned Morbier.

        Non-supermarket cheese is such an impossibly broad category that I was reluctant to address it, but since I'm already here, and I really do love even thinking about cheese...

        Among the blues, Cabrales is indeed a wonderful, lesser-known sibling of the classic blues (Roquefort, Stilton, Gorgonzola)

        The Basque region produces some terrific goat and sheep milk cheese: Ardia (called something else as well that I can't recall), Petit Basque, Gave d'Aspe...oh, and not Basque, but the Catalonian Garrotxa can be delicious.

        If you can find an aged Gouda, preferably at least four to five years (though the two-year aged Old Amsterdam is very enjoyable), you would hardly recognize it as Gouda at all--hard, salty, and a terrific complement to a hoppy brew or a big red wine.

        Finally, in the soft-ripened family, if you can't find traditional Brie de Meaux or Coulommier (and at the proper ripeness, as a previous poster noted), look for cheeses made by Fromager d'Affinois, they produce delightful cow, goat, and sheep milk brie- or camembert-style cheeses that won't break the bank but will satisfy almost any palate.

        1. re: Aaron D

          My favorite artisan California blue cheese is Point Reyes Original Blue. It's available at the link below as are lots of other great artisan cheeses.

          Link: http://www.projecttruffle.com/

          1. re: Aaron D

            Fromage d'Affinois is my current favorite in the soft-creamy-spreadable department -- better than any Brie or Camembert I've had. I wouldn't quite describe the flavor as buttery, or creamy; it's more as if they've created a new, unbelievably rich and delicious category of milkfat. If the latest depressing cholesterol numbers hadn't just arrived from the doctor's office, I'd be rushing out tomorrow to get some more.

            For stronger flavor, I like Great Hill Blue, an artisinal raw-milk cheese that's made in Massachusetts, so I get to buy it in my local supermarket.

            W&G Fan, have you ever actually had Wensleydale? We bought a small wedge of it a few weeks ago, for ol' Wallace's sake, and I'm afraid we weren't terribly impressed -- it was kind of bland and faintly soapy-tasting -- glad it *was* a small wedge.

            1. re: C. Fox

              I also tried Wensleydale, for the same reason. It must be an acquired taste. I'd rather eat mass produced cheddar.

              1. re: ironmom

                Wensleydale can be a good cheese, but you can also get bad ones, just like cheddar. It is mild though, and crumbly.

                1. re: greedygirl

                  Extra mature Wensleydale can be a thing of joy. Perfect to eat with Christmas cake.

                  http://www.wensleydale.co.uk/extramat...

                  Definately one you're likely to only find in a specialist cheesemonger and probably only in the UK.

                  1. re: Harters

                    we get wensleydale here in u.s. -- at least in d.c. area.

        2. re: Wallace & Gromit Fan

          "ooooh, I do like a bit of gorgonzoloa"
          - Wallace

          1. re: Wallace & Gromit Fan

            Hmmm, in Québec we now produce 100+ different cheeses so out of the ordinary is a bit of a challenge. That said, I'll go with:

            Stilton - the royal blue
            Gouda - spiced with cumin or caraway seeds
            Balderson aged cheddar (from Ontario)
            Fresh cheese curds anywhere outside la belle province.

            1. re: mrbozo

              Provolone piccante
              Sardinian pecorino

            2. Mmmmm, so many cheeses, so little time, but if I had to name just a few, and excluding those excellent cheeses already named, I'd say two of my favorites are Epoisse, the delightfully creamy and complex soft cheese from Burgudny; Brin D'Amour, a sheep cheese wrapped in herbs...I like it aged, so the flavor of the herbs is infused into the cheese. And I just tried the Upland Cheese Co's Pleasant Ridge Reserve, which won top honors at last years American Cheese Society contest. This is a great cheese; semi-hard with a swiss/comte flavor, but more so. It's from a small Wisconsin dairy, and only milk from their cows is used in the cheese.

              1. Would you believe Limburger? A piece of it right now would take me right back to my childhood. My father loved it as an afternoon snack, on sturdy bread or crackers, along with pickled pigs feet, sliced thuringer or salame, and pickled green beans.

                I was the only member of the family who would join him, however I could never get with the pigs feet - the toenails put me off.

                Limburger came in two forms - a foil-wrapped square (maybe 12 oz. or so) under the label "Badger". This was what we ate. You could also get a mild spread in one of those little jars that had an afterlife as juice glasses.

                Haven't seen Limburger in a long time, but you've gotten me inspired to look for it. Anybody seen it lately in Marin or Sonoma?

                3 Replies
                1. re: Sharuf
                  j
                  John Whiting

                  Ah, Limburger! In Fall River Mass, my father used to buy Limburger from the local German butcher. He'd get the cheeses at half price that had become so ripe that even the Germans wouldn't touch them -- this was before sell-by dates! "It's fine," Dad would tell me, "once you've got it past your nose." And he was right.

                  1. re: John Whiting

                    Here in NYC i see Limburger in the supermarket all the time. It's just an ordinary suprmarket, not a gourmet or fancy one. Maybe it's the neighborhood, although I doubt it as it's an Irish/Italian/Asian/Spanish/Jewish nabe.

                  2. re: Sharuf

                    Dang, Sharuf! You and I must be the same person. My dad and I used to pig out on the same stuff, but I must admit that some of the things I ate with him I only did in order to see the look on my mom's face.

                    And just so you can all feel extremely envious--I am now going down to my kitchen to try the fresh goat cheese with basil that I made last evening using unpasteurized goat's milk that I purchased from my neighbor yesterday. Nanner-nanner, boo, boo! I live in Costa Rica, so it's easy to get unpasteurized milk...

                  3. I'm uncommonly fond of Tetilla cheese from Spain. I had it nearly every day for breakfast while visiting Spain recently. It's a very soft cow's milk cheese molded into the shape of a woman's breast. I also adore Idiazàbal, a nutty, firm sheep's milk cheese from the Basque region. I've had splendid luck finding both cheeses here in Manhattan.

                    Others: 5-year-old gouda is outrageously good, and a great cheese with which to surprise the uninitiated. Cut into nibble-sized pieces and pass a plate around and watch the faces!

                    Truth be known, not counting "cheese foods" like American and Velveeta, I don't remember EVER meeting a cheese I didn't like, from limburger to stilton. Hell, I'd even prefer Velveeta to a brownie.

                    Thankfully, I grew up in a very cheese savvy household--esp. for Toledo, Ohio, in the 50s and 60s. My parents would send away to God knows where for wheels of brie for special occasions. We always had several cheddars in the fridge, and a colby called "Longhorn" that I haven't seen in about 20 years. And our beloved long lost Liederkranz was always in the wings, at various ages.

                    When fondue became all the rage, I wanted to LIVE on it and nothing else!

                    BTW, this URL newsletter@igourmet.com will take you to a link in a raw-milk-cheese story that gets a petition to the right idiots in our wayward government that, in essence, will keep them from BANNING parmigiano-reggiano and gruyère, which are raw milk cheeses. PLEASE sign the petition. It only takes a few seconds.

                    Look at all this! Behold the power of cheese, indeed!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Tom Steele

                      I found this post via the search feature. I'm specifically trying to find not-mild-Cheddar Longhorn. More accurately, my parents are and I'm helping. My stepfather is from Turlock CA and insists his tacos will never taste right until he finds 'real' Longhorn. My mother, from western Canada, remembers it as "rat cheese." Oh and they're now in Alaska so it's up to me (in Portland OR) to find, buy and ship it. All the cheese shops say that they're mistaken and it really is just a variation on colby and/or cheddar but they refuse to believe. Any suggestions?

                      1. Some of my current favorites are Cashel blue,a mild blue cows' milk cheese from Ireland;Bettelmatt,an aged,complex cows milk cheese from nothern Italy;Sospiri de Cabra[whisper of goat]and Garrotxa from Spain,and Quiejo Amarelo da Biera;a semi soft sheep/goat cheese from Portugal-they all have a lot of character,and are worth looking for,IMHO.