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Your favorite out-of-ordinary cheese?

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  • Howard-2 Apr 6, 2002 06:01 AM
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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: Uncledave

            i love brie

          2. 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. re: Wallace & Gromit Fan

              boucheron is so delicious!
              http://www.wineskinny.com/past_issues...
              http://www.endlesssimmer.com/2008/03/...

            3. 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. re: K Northrup

                        I tried a google search-try this link.

                        Link: http://store.keystoneweb.com/kiefer/l...

                      2. re: Tom Steele

                        tetilla: http://www.cheesefromspain.com/CFS/20...

                      3. 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.

                        1. Lymeswold -- a British blue with the consistency of brie, and alas, unavailable in the U.S.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: P

                            And unavailable, mercifully, in the UK.

                            It was a lousy commercial product that lasted about 10 years before the manufacturer stopped production in 1992.

                          2. c
                            Caitlin Wheeler

                            Two of my favorites, which are both creamy ripened cheeses (like a brie but more flavorful) are Reblochon, from the Haute Savoie region of France, and Munster. Not the orange and white crud you can get in a supermarket, but a real, aged, softened munster.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Caitlin Wheeler

                              Do you (or other chowhounds) know if they make a cheese from the Normandy cow? From what I heard ** of their milk, it seems like it would be the greatest.

                              ** The Normandy cow grazes on grass only and that grass is annually flooded by an ocean, leaving a salty residue that makes the Normandy cows milk quite wonderful.

                              1. re: kc girl

                                Thanks to google.com, I have just noticed what a goof I am about cheese. The answer to my own question is "the very famous Camembert cheese."

                                A personal trainer I had made me give up cheese in '82 (even though I wasn't overweight or had any cholesterol problem).

                            2. 1. Laguiole: a cheese from the Auvergne that is made in a process similar to cheddar, but with a different result.

                              2. Brebis and almost any Basque sheep cheese; my favorite sheep cheeses. Sheep cheeses get somewhat short shrift between cow and goat cheeses, which is a pity.

                              3. Vacherin Fribourgois (Swiss): a kinf of lux Fontina....

                              4. A single-herd Ragusano that I got for a while from Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge was memorable....

                              5. And the usual suspects: Reggiano, Gorgonzola, and Stilton.

                              1. Oka..it is a handcrafted cheese from a monestary in Canada. We used to be able to find its beautiful round of stinkiness in NYC. However it has been banned, non-pasturized milk is the culprit. My in-laws have taken to smuggling the rounds over the border. ah what people will do for a good, firm, cheese with a royal stink and a buttery flavor. It is not spreadable, but not crumbly either.

                                Peace, jill

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: jill
                                  m
                                  Melanie Wong

                                  If Oka is aged 60 days before being imported for sale in the US, there's no problem even if it's unpasteurized.

                                2. Two that come to mind are a good, dry, aged Spanish Manchego cheese, and the Norwegian cheese Gjestost (usually found in the US under the Ski Queen brand.) This is odd stuff but we got hooked on it on a trip to Norway a few years ago. Since learning to make cheese, I learned that this cheese is made by boiling down the whey that's left after using the curds for another type of cheese. It boils down over a few hours. It's a firm, silky goat cheese, caramel colored with a sweetish taste. Great for breakfast on some Wasa!

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: Chris VR

                                    Aagh! Beware the Gjetost! A Scandinavian delicacy, no doubt, which apparently has a few other adherents...but to the uninitiated, tread lightly. It's not so much that it's bad, but that it is rather un-cheeselike. It looks (and even tastes) a bit more like peanut butter than cheese. It's usually not too expensive, so you won't break the bank if you're being adventursome--but I would be wary of getting it for any special occasion or even to satisfy your cheese fix. I suppose someone looking for an "out-of-the-ordinary" cheese could not argue with Gjetost.

                                    1. re: Aaron D

                                      i heart gjetost, it does remind me a bit of a very aged gouda. it tastes like butterscotch. i like it with wasa, too, with some slices of ripe pear or melon.

                                      it does not remind me of peanut butter at all, and it is definitely appropriate for dessert.

                                    2. re: Chris VR

                                      I just found some ekte gjeitost last weekend in the Portland, Me market. Jeg vaer pa himmelen! (I was in heaven.) I've even converted my Yankee wife to the gjeit side of the force. (We have to hide it from the kids). She now loves herring too.

                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                        Good to see some converts who can now say Gjei for gjeitost. I would never have known about it had it not been for my immigrant Norskie granddad. When he would visit, he would bring with him his Milwaukee-baked breads, some flatbread, and Gjeitost, and his cheese plane for superthin slices that melt like a snowflake on your tongue.

                                        By age 8 I had deduced that the fried eggs tasted so much better when Grandaddy was visiting. Investigation revealed that during those times, my mom would buy real butter to fry the eggs. The game was over. Henceforth she kept butter year round only for my eggs (the rest of the family liked margarine better, go figure0. It was sort of like once you feed a cat some dashi flakes, they're howling ever on for more of the good stuff.

                                        Gramps would brook no margarine either, even though he made a small fortune by bootlegging it into Wisconsin before they changed their restrictive dairy laws in 1967.

                                        But I digress. There's a neat wiki page on Gjeitost, also showing the MANDATORY cheese plane:

                                        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geitost

                                        Also the Skiqueen page (distributor), with more, plus nutritional info. It's not as fatty as people may think.

                                        http://www.norwegiancheeses.co.uk/ski...

                                    3. i too am a cheeseaholic and while i like most cheeses sadly i don't really love any here in the states. i don't think they have much flavour. i've tried them hopefully from almost everywhere - from artisan cheese in san francisco, to the cheese store of beverly hills to artisanal in nyc. i think even some of the industrial brands in france taste far better than what we get here. the first time i ever tasted brie in france i had no idea that it was even brie because the flavour was so strong and rich.

                                      as for favourites: comte, manchego, pecorino, epoisse - nothing too crazy.

                                      one of my most favourite: vacherin du haut doubs. perhaps more commonly known as the french vacherin mont d'or. from the savoie region. only in season in the fall. round of cheese, wrapped in cloth, aged in spruce bark, until it's almost liquid. you remove the top rind and spoon out the soft cheese.

                                      i first tried it from the tiny cheese shop barthlemey in paris. it happened to be beaujolais nouveau thursday and the plump, creamy-skinned women kept happily plying us with glasses of wine and seeminly endless samples of cheese. heaven.

                                      Fromagerie Barthelemy
                                      51, rue de Grenelle
                                      75007 Paris
                                      Tél : 01 42 22 82 24
                                      Métro: Croix-Rouge, Bac

                                      1. w
                                        Wendy Leonard

                                        I favor the artisanal raw milk sheep and goat cheeses. Pico is good; I'm eating some right now! A lot of the softer raw milk cheses come and go in the stores. I try what's around and sometimes get lucky.

                                        Our cheese supplies usually include some or all of the following:

                                        Reblochen
                                        Old Amsterdam
                                        assorted small hard raw milk goat or sheep cheeses to be eaten with shallots
                                        Stilton or Rocquefort
                                        Reggiano
                                        Tourre d' Aubier (a Brie-type cheese, much stronger)
                                        a sheeps milk Camenbert made by Old Chatham

                                        Reblochen and the hard goat/sheep cheeses especially last for a very long time, so they are easy to have on hand.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Wendy Leonard

                                          I'm with you on the Old Chatham Hudson Valley sheep-milk camembert. I think it's just about the most delicious ripened cheese I've ever had. I really have to practice self-control, not to buy it every time I see it, because it is so rich. The 'hound who posted below needs to taste that cheese and revise her opinion of French factory cheeses being better than any American artisanal cheese currently being made.

                                          1. re: zora

                                            Oh YES!!!!! They used to come over to our summer Farmer's Market in Lenox and sell the squares two for $5.00 Talk about pigging out! Their other strictly sheep's milk cheeses are fine, but the camembert (mix of sheep's milk and cow's milk) is to die for.

                                        2. Stilton with cranberriers! Cotswold (a chedder, slightly sharp with spring onions in it, makes the BEST grilled cheese sandwich...also a mighty fine mac 'n cheese)

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: renee

                                            i love cotswold too, but i'm pretty sure the green is the chives component, not spring onion. the cheese also incorporates regular onions. and renee, you are right on about using it for a grilled cheese on a hearty grain bread! so savory!
                                            http://www.cheesemonthclub.com/pastne...

                                          2. t
                                            torta basilica

                                            Guess? Torta Basilica! Not for the purist, but from Milan & layers of firm white cheese, mascarpone, pesto & pine nuts - terribly hedonistic! When I lived in Munich I was soooo poor - actually (& with a college degree) worked as an au pair for the guy that owns all the strip clubs around the Hofbrauhaus... yes, it was humiliating. Would save up my pfennigs just for a teeny slice of this from the cheese ladies at the Viktualienmarkt and savor it nibble by nibble.

                                            Boring, but I love German Butterkäse - had that before I ever had Monterey Jack in the US & it will always be a childhood favorite.

                                            For fun, Italian Burrata - bufalo mozzarella ball in a much different form - almost fluffy without being watery - great on salads with roasted peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, etc.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: torta basilica

                                              I can't believe it those are my 2 favorite cheeses as well
                                              when I eas in Milan and Munich last year I couln not find tota basilica.

                                              1. re: torta basilica

                                                Found a recipe using Butterkäse I'm eager to try--

                                                The Lisa Marie

                                                http://www.courierpress.com/news/2012...

                                                 
                                              2. Aged and stinky. That's the way I like my cheese.

                                                1. I like a small chunk of English Cheshire to savor. I usually just eat it at home like a lollipop (with little sips of good white burgundy).

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: kc girl

                                                    Mmmm, thanks for reminding me. Haven't had Cheshire in a while.

                                                  2. At the moment, it's St. Felicien. This is a beautiful soft, runny, gooey cheese which is similar to St. Marcellin, but a little tangier.

                                                    Also,I have fond memories of a picnic in a Tuscan meadow a few years ago with fresh Pecorino Toscano, but the best of this stuff that I've found in this country doesn't compare. Could it be that it must be eaten in a Tuscan meadow to be fully appreciated?

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: Cloudy
                                                      w
                                                      Wendy Leonard

                                                      Mmmm, St. Marcellin. I haven't tried St.Felicien, will look for it now. Thanks for the tip!

                                                      1. re: Wendy Leonard

                                                        If you live in NYC, you can often (but not always) find it at Murray's in the Village.

                                                      2. re: Cloudy

                                                        I've had a Norwegian cheese called "Gjetost" which tastes sort of (very sort of) like caramel - not the brown chewy caramel but the cooked sugar kind. Don't know much about it - it's hard to find, and it's definitely out of the ordinary.

                                                        I also like Tête de Moine but it's not really out of the ordinary, and it's that "Girolle" contraption you slice it with that makes it fun to eat.

                                                        Does anyone know of any other cheeses that warrant their own special utensil?

                                                        1. re: magnolia

                                                          In the US it's just the reverse. Gjetost is quite common, often found in supermarkets, whereas Tete de Moine is almost unheard of.

                                                        2. re: Cloudy

                                                          "Could it be that it must be eaten in a Tuscan meadow to be fully appreciated?"

                                                          Everything does taste better when you're on vacation!

                                                        3. I particularly like Valdeon -- a Spanish mixed-milk blue cheese, wrapped in chestnut leaves; and Roaring 40s Blue -- a Stilton-like blue (but with a fresher cheddar flavor) from New Zealand. I also second the motions for Humboldt Fog and aged gouda.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Gil Bauer

                                                            I respond with total enthusiasm to your choices of blues. Valdeon and Roaring Forties: superb. Blues are really my favorites, so also try: Carles or Vieux Berger Roquefort (both still small family businesses in the Roquefort hierachary, and so much better than the commercial brands), Blue le Basque (hard to come by but terrific), Fourme d'Ambert (not expensive, but make sure it's from raw milk), and Mountain Gorgonzola (which is Dolce but aged longer, and from higher regions)(my other blue that is not from Spain, Australia or France).

                                                            A few other, non-blue faves: Tomme de Leveque -- a sheep's milk, fermier, hard cheese, DIVINE; Baita Fruilli, from Italy, similar consistancy to Fontina but far more complex; Le Chevrot for a great small goat; Rocamadour Lingot, another small goat; Bica from Portugal, a mixed milk from a small producer; Serra, also from Portugal, their "National" cheese; Tallegio and Pecorino Toscano Stagianato from Italy. I could go on and on --

                                                          2. Boschetto al Tartufo Bianchetto is a cheese I like to have with bread and a glass of wine. It has a mild nutty flavour, and the taste of truffles permeates the entire cheese. It makes my toes curl :-D

                                                            I'm also a big fan of a small Ontario cheese place, Montfort cheeses. I don't think I've had any of her cheeses that I didn't swoon over. All of her cheeses are made from goat or sheep's milk (no cow). I've had runny cheeses to hard cheeses covered with ash and rosemary: enjoyed every bite.

                                                            1. Boerenkaas Magdalena Captein. It's a tremendous gouda produced on a small farm in the Netherlands. It turned me into a lover of firm cheese, didn't think I cared for any of it up to my tasting of this. I've only had it twice, and have tried other gouda's, but none of them compare.
                                                              I also love havarti, any and all. I feel lucky to have such a strong affinity for a more pedestrian cheese as I can afford without hesitation to indulge whenever the mood hits.

                                                              1. I have to say, the stinkier cheeses have never really appealed to me...several years ago, when I took a course in French food & culture, I spent a lot of time researching (and tasting) most every kind of French cheese I could get my hands on. The one elusive cheese I couldn't find here (Beaufort) became a sort of Holy Grail on my next trip to France. (When I finally found it, I have to say I was disappointed - it was okay, but not the wow! I had expected.) My two favorites are Point Reyes Blue and aged gouda.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: Morticia

                                                                  Gotta second Tete de Moine The King of all the Monastic cheeses and proaobly of all the Swiss Cheeses as well. Nothing is half so forceful.

                                                                  Another presonal favoite of mine (and proably my all time favorite cheese) is Livey Run's Cayuga Blue. Its great like someone crossed good raw milk chever fermier with the finest feta.

                                                                  Another hard to resist is a square of fleur du Marquis or Brindamor (they are basically the same thing) that is perfectly ripe when the inside literally flows out of the crust in an unctuous cascade. mmm....

                                                                  1. re: jumpingmonk

                                                                    Saint Albray

                                                                2. Oh my. Where to begin?

                                                                  France: Epoisses (a real splurge tho), Morbier, Reblochon, Pierre Robert.

                                                                  Italy: Fresh buffalo mozzarella. Taleggio, one of my absolute faves. Gorgonzola, Pecorino & Parmigiano -- d'uh. Then there's a truffle cheese called something "sotto cenere" (covered in ash).

                                                                  Spain: Garrotxa, Manchego, Mahon. The Manchego's gotta be at least 6 months old though.

                                                                  Netherlands: Gouda in any variation. Grew up with the super young and mild stuff, and have advanced to the ancient reserve one that almost tastes like caramel.

                                                                  Ireland/England: Any good, sharp cheddar.

                                                                  Denmark: Esrom.

                                                                  Germany: Tilsiter. Roter & weisser Kolwass. Butterkäse. Münster.

                                                                  Cheeses. Where to stop?

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: linguafood

                                                                    mmm, I 2nd Taleggio, spreadable, yet somewhat firm with enough mild stink to satisfy and not annoy others.

                                                                    1. re: linguafood

                                                                      Esrom is very good for a 'stinky' cheese. I usually get it from igourment.com

                                                                    2. I think the only cheese that I really like and cannot easily get is Maroilles. It's made in the north of the Pas de Calais region but, even though that's only 22 miles away, it never seems to cross the Channel.

                                                                      Most other stuff that I like is either readily available in supermarkets or from a couple of nearby specialist cheesemongers. That said, supplies of Mahon can be a bit infrequent but Manchego can be a pretty good subsitute.

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Harters

                                                                        You're right - I've never seen Maroilles here. How funny.

                                                                        1. re: greedygirl

                                                                          I always buy a big chunk at the big Carrefour in Calais on the way home ( I usually go over to Belgium/France once a year for my other main interest - if you think I'm obsessed with food, you should catch me on that. Or perhaps not :-0

                                                                          1. re: Harters

                                                                            What's your other main interest then? We also go over at least once a year - to feed our wine cellar!

                                                                            1. re: greedygirl

                                                                              Bringing back to topic, include Ieper/Ypres in your next trip. You'll come across a low production cheese called Passendale (the Flemish spelling of the village better known from the time of the war as Passchendaele). It's in the Dutch style of cheese making, inevitably, but don't let that put you off too much - think the best quality Edam/Gouda. Bit bland but OK.

                                                                              I think I may have seen it in the specialist cheese section of the Carrefour at Calais.

                                                                              J

                                                                      2. I'm a big fan of mimolette a French cow's milk cheese. It looks like a cantalope as it has a tan/grey outer crust and is orange inside. The hard crust is formed by cheese mites - ew! It has a nutty mild flavor and was, purportedly, Napoleon's favorite cheese.

                                                                        14 Replies
                                                                        1. re: lynnlato

                                                                          My friend loves that too - I find it a bit, meh. Not nearly as nice as aged Gouda, imho.

                                                                          1. re: lynnlato

                                                                            Are you sure it was Napoleon? I always heard it was Charles de Gaulle. I was told that Napoleons favoite was always Fleur du Marquis, as it like him was Corsican.

                                                                            1. re: jumpingmonk

                                                                              Dunno. That's what the cheesemonger said. I just searched the web and found something that said Napoleon's army marched on mimolette. Whatever that means. I suppose it's all speculation anyway. Another way to sell the cheese!

                                                                              * Oooh, another good one I had recently was a pecorino toscano.

                                                                              1. re: lynnlato

                                                                                I suppose both statements could be correct. I went on the web and found people touting both sides. Certainly if I was Napoleon and providing cheese for my troops before a campaign I would pick something like mimolette, firm, durable (so that it doesnt break on the jouney) keeps well and flavorful without being overpowering (since you want your troops to eat a good porion of it, something truely intense and they migh not be able to hand enough to meet nutrional needs. Napolean is credited with being very aware of the need for good troop nutrition (he is belived to have introduced canned food as well as the first attempt at margerine) so mimolette seems right up his alley as troop food. I first heard the de Gaulle version in Steve Jenkin's The Cheese Primer, where his spoke somewhat disparinginly of the choice.

                                                                                1. re: jumpingmonk

                                                                                  Very interesting. You clearly know way more about cheese than I... perhaps you could help me. I was in Dean & DeLuca recently and bought a few cheeses that the woman suggested to me. One was an Italian soft cheese, similiar in texture to brie w/ a rind as well. Well, when I unwrapped that cheese it was so stinky it blew me & SO away. We are big cheese fans but a few bites of this cheese and we decided we couldn't get past the stink to enjoy it. It was fairly expensive too. I can't, for the life of me, remember the name. Does it ring any bells for you? Thanks!

                                                                                  1. re: lynnlato

                                                                                    Taleggio? Brescianella Stagionata? Both are pretty stinky...

                                                                                    1. re: Sean

                                                                                      Sean, thank u! It was brescianella stagionata. Tell me, are you a fan of it?

                                                                                      1. re: lynnlato

                                                                                        I knew it had to be Berscianella. Used to like it until a got a very ripe batch that I, like you, couldnt touch!

                                                                                        1. re: lynnlato

                                                                                          Funny thing is that I had it for the first time last Sunday at school (I am a culinary student part time) and was warned ahead of time about the smell. I did actually find it to be very good.

                                                                                          1. re: Sean

                                                                                            I think the hunk I had was a bit over ripe... but who knows. I'll try it again before I turn my nose up to it forever (pardon the pun). ;-) It's the first cheese I've ever not wanted to keep eating, and eating, and eating... okay, I love cheese.

                                                                              2. re: lynnlato

                                                                                This reminds me of the Sardinian casu marzu (formaggio marcio), which is a pecorino Sardo that has been (overly) fermented by cheese fly larvae -- I would be very curious to hear the opinion of anyone who may have sampled this.

                                                                                1. re: Kristen84

                                                                                  Sounds, uh, intriguing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casu_marzu

                                                                                2. re: lynnlato

                                                                                  Me too. Although I like mine sharply nutty/fruity, like the first piece I ever had from Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge MA. I recently had that one was more like cheddar than anything, which didn't do as much for me.

                                                                                  1. re: lynnlato

                                                                                    mimolette: http://www.teddingtoncheese.co.uk/aca...

                                                                                  2. Oscypek, a specialty from the Podhale (the Tatra Mountain foothills) in Poland, is one of my favorite cheeses: a hard, smoked cheese made from unpasteurized sheep's milk, wonderful when eaten warm with a side of tart cranberry sauce, as the market stalls sell it (where it also comes as redykolka, its minature, ovoid version). It's also quite attractive in appearance, with raised diamonds on its body from the mold that it's pressed into (a cylinder, optionally tapered on both sides) as it's finished. You can find it in Zakopane, Kraków, etc. As a Dutch resident, I would trade a wheel of Old Amsterdam for a "roll" of Oscypek any day ...

                                                                                    There are countless German cheeses to try as well -- I'm pleased to see how many posters have mentioned some of them! (And here I was afraid that German cheese was underappreciated!) I quite like Handkäse, from Hesse, a sour milk cheese popularly served marinated and "mit Musik" -- diced raw onions -- as well as salt, pepper and caraway seeds to taste. You could also try this preparation on your Limburger cheese where Handkäse isn't available.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: Kristen84

                                                                                      There's a fantastic buttery blue from Germany called Regina Blue that is just to die for. It's so mild and buttery that even non-blue fans will eat it. My favorite.

                                                                                    2. My favorite non-supermarket cheeses are Humboldt Fog, Point Reyes Blue and Camenzola. For uncommonest cheeses, I have to go to two my father-in-law introduced to me: Gjetost and Liederkranz. Gjetost must be sliced VERY thin to be appreciated, and Liederkranz, despite having what I consider one of the greatest cheese names, seems to have gone out of production.

                                                                                      1. Etorki, sheep's milk I think.

                                                                                        1. In addition to many of the others listed up-thread, I love cambozola.

                                                                                          1. Cornish Yarg cheese. It's a semi-hard, cow's milk cheese that's been wrapped in nettle leaves and aged. It is produced solely in Cornwall, England.

                                                                                            I am also very partial to smoked Applewood cheddar from the UK but that is becoming more commonly found now in supermarkets. A good blue Stilton, and a true French camembert are always a treat as well. I am also partial to a good Italian provolone and gorgonzola. And a true mozzarella di Bufala is a thing of beauty. And I am learning about so many other intriguing types of cheeses just from reading this thread.

                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: FoodieKat

                                                                                              Oh yes- Cornish Yarg is fantastic. Stores which carry cheeses from Neal's Yard Dairy may be able to get some but it is a hard one to find.

                                                                                              1. re: Sushiqueen36

                                                                                                Yes, it was hard enough to find when I lived in England, but once I tried it I was hooked. It melts so nicely and has a nutty, almost citrusy taste.

                                                                                                1. re: FoodieKat

                                                                                                  My husband and I visited London last year and bought a little from NYD. I then carried it and a small amount of Beenleigh Blue in my suitcase for 9 days through Ireland and then back to the states. It was a bit moldy but still soooo good. It was by far my favorite souvenier.

                                                                                                2. re: Sushiqueen36

                                                                                                  cornish yarg: http://www.artisanalcheese.com/prodin...

                                                                                              2. Venuzelan Beaver Cheese.

                                                                                                http://www.phespirit.info/montypython...

                                                                                                1. A cheesemonger recently offered me a Langres when shopping for some Epoisses (which wasn't mature enough to eat immediately). It was much milder than an Epoisses, but still possessed that spellbinding mature complexity. Orangey rind, very runny center and a distinctive lovely stink. It was so good, I didn't even touch the other cheeses that we brought together for our wine/cheese/salad dinner. The best thing was, it was half the price of a round of Epoisses. But of course it is unpasteurized, the availability might be limited in US of FDA.

                                                                                                  1. So many wonderful cheeses... I could go on and on...

                                                                                                    I have been fortunate to eat many wonderful cheeses in my life. Cheese is a daily luxury for me. So I'll share one really fabulous cheese moment from many.

                                                                                                    We were in Burgandy, and had spent the day biking the Route des Grands Crus on a glorious fall day during the vendage. That night we went to a small bistro for dinner. The highlight was the cheese course, which was an Ami de Chambertin, a small washed rind cheese related to Epoisses. It was perfectly ripened and wonderfully runny, nutty and complex. I have never seen that cheese again. This cheese alone is worth making another trip to Burgundy!

                                                                                                    1. love brin d'amour: http://www.dibruno.com/Detail.bok?no=289
                                                                                                      http://www.fromages.com/cheese_librar...

                                                                                                      (i wish everyone would link to pics/descriptions, btw)

                                                                                                      1. Since I no longer can get the Norwegian cheese of my childhood (Nokkelost) http://tinyurl.com/5x9y63 , I have been substituting the Dutch version (Leyden) http://tinyurl.com/4s82qk . It's not quite like anything else I've ever had and enjoy it very much.

                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: grampart

                                                                                                          thanks for the links, grampart!

                                                                                                          the cumin and cloves combination is really intriguing in the nokkelost cheese. would you elaborate on those spices in norwegian food culture/history, as they are originally from south asia/indonesia?

                                                                                                          cumin is native from the med through india; wiki sez: "A folk etymology connects the word with the Persian city Kerman, where, the story goes, most of ancient Persia's cumin was produced."

                                                                                                          and cloves are native to indonesia.

                                                                                                          interestingly, both cumin and cloves are associated with helping tummy and digestive troubles. funny they are combined in your home country cheese. maybe to overcome the excesses of eating over the holidays, when the cheese was primarily served?

                                                                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                            Maybe those early Vikings were in to looting herbs and spices. I know cardamom is a popular spice there too; used in baked goods and some recipes for meatballs. The Leyden cheese is missing the cloves, but it seems the cumin is the key to both cheeses.

                                                                                                            1. re: grampart

                                                                                                              The cloves are in another Dutch cheese called Texalaar or Fresian Clove cheese. If you got both and ate slices of the two together yoi might get the effect you are looking for.

                                                                                                        2. Bringing this thread out of the cellar:

                                                                                                          Spain: afuega'l pitu (rojo), tetilla and its cousin, Arzua-Ulloa
                                                                                                          Quebec: chevre noir
                                                                                                          Italy: pecorino sardo (aka "fiore sardo"), fontina val d'aosta (true fontina)
                                                                                                          England: double Gloucester with chives/onion

                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: fame da lupo

                                                                                                            Resurrected from the cellar for the second time!

                                                                                                            I'm going to go with Brebis Rousse (a soft, washed rind sheep's milk cheese).

                                                                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                              A lovely cheese, but not a washed rind. The red color on the rind comes from annatto, the same plant dye that tints some cheddars orange. People who like bloomy rind cow's milk cheeses (Brie, Camembert, Coulommiers,double/triple crème cheeses, etc.) will probably find this one very appealing. Usually sold under its full name: Brebisrousse d'Argental.

                                                                                                            2. re: fame da lupo

                                                                                                              Yes to all your choices! Unfortunately, afuega 'l pitu in either of its versions (blanco or rojo) has just about disappeared here in the US. Even the Spanish stores like La Tienda never seem to have it in stock. I've been wanting to get my hands on some for a long time.

                                                                                                              Many books and websites say, as you have, that pecorino sardo and fiore sardo are the same cheese, but not so. They were granted PDO status separately in different years and are overseen by different consortia. Fiore sardo is usually smoked. Pecorino sardo rarely is.

                                                                                                              1. re: cheesemaestro

                                                                                                                I've eaten both interchangeably and thought they were vastly more similar than different, to the point of being largely indistinguishable. Didn't know about the smoking of pecorino/fiore sardo, but I'm not surprised given that it's a common curing/preserving technique for places with food insecurity (like Sardegna, historically).

                                                                                                                I was curious to know more and dug up the EU applications for DOP status. Both fiore sardo and pecorino sardo are DOP cheeses, separately, though the EU applications for each allow for smoking of the cheese. The production definition of each does not seem restrictive enough to produce two cheeses that are easily identifiable as distinct from one another. In case you're curious:

                                                                                                                Pecorino Sardo DOP documentation:
                                                                                                                http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/L...

                                                                                                                Fiore Sardo DOP documentation:
                                                                                                                http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/quali...

                                                                                                                Afuega'l pitu is not easy to find in Spain either, need to go to high end specialty shops. That was my experience living in Madrid.

                                                                                                            3. A real, imported-from-southern-Italy provolone piccante (sharp, pungent) or its cousin, caciocavallo. Neither are like the bland provolone you find in most delis. Claro's Italian market in Tustin (OC, Calif.) usually has a good selection, pre-cut and wrapped in various sizes/prices.

                                                                                                              Also, Rouge et Noir (from the Marin French Cheese Co. of Petaluma, Calif.) makes an excellent camembert that might be my No. 2 fave.

                                                                                                              Otherwise, it's hard to beat a true Roquefort or Gruyere or properly aged Stilton. (Which is to say that I too often find only over-ripe Stiltons.)

                                                                                                              1. Explorateur, a French triple creme. Similar in appearance to a St. Andre, but with a richer, more pungent flavor. Unfortunately kind of hard to find.

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: BobB

                                                                                                                  Wow! 75% butter fat! I found it available at my go-to place for Leyden, Parm, Grana Padano, and other goodies. iGourmet has it for $14.99 (8 OZ) plus shipping of course. I'll give it a try with my next order.

                                                                                                                  1. re: grampart

                                                                                                                    All triple cremes are minimum 75% butterfat, by law.

                                                                                                                2. My strange cheese to bring to a record 11 year hiatus thread would be Testun a la Barolo, a fim white cheese is placed in the lees of barolo for a bit, then the cheese is packed with the seeds and muck of the lees and sold that way. It becomes a white centered product with a 1/2 inch of purpley seeds and winey taste and color, beautiful, pricey, and yummy.

                                                                                                                  1. "(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."

                                                                                                                    "Gourmandise" is still around - both in "Walnut" & "Kirsch" flavors. Both are rich, delectable cheeses.

                                                                                                                    Our local Wegmans supermarket carries them in stock, & I've also seen them available from online purveyors.

                                                                                                                    1. Braided Armenian string cheese is a bit unusual and sometimes difficult to find with nigella seeds brined. I like to include it in a platter with olives, meats, bread and pickled vegetables. When my children were younger they enjoyed separating the strands and eating it like that.

                                                                                                                      A grilled or pan-fried Halloumi cheese is very tasty too.

                                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                        When my daughter was 7 she unbraided two 10 oz packages and the resultant mass was the size of a lazyboy chair.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                                                                          But it kept the kids busy for hours!!

                                                                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                            And it's delicious. One of our favorite cheeses, but def not for special occasions. More like an "every evening" kinda thang.

                                                                                                                            1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                              Actually my family thought of both cheeses as special because we couldn't acquire them everywhere and there weren't many that they could pull apart and enjoy like candy or grill and pan fry like a steak. So, every evening kinda thang it was not for us. Halloumi and Armenian string cheese were special, interesting cheeses for us. I'm talking years ago when we first enjoyed them.

                                                                                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                That's true, it's not found everywhere.