What exactly is a raw cheese? Unpasteurized milk?
Any peculiar characteristics? Taste? Shelf life? Shelf stability?
I'm not sure exactly what you mean, but presumably that's short for "raw milk cheese" which is any cheese made from unpasteurized milk. Any cheese can be made "raw" and there shouldn't be any difference between raw cheese and the pasteurized version, except that they have a more complex flavor.
Raw milk cheeses tastes much fuller and complex (but there are some really good pasturized cheeses out there). They are illegal in the U.S. unless they've been aged for 3 months (I think).
The reason I prefer raw-milk cheeses is because I believe it's healthier and less mucus-producing. Even though doctors tell pregnant women to avoid raw-milk cheese (which I believe to be nonsense, especially since Listeria tends to be present in younger raw-milk cheeses which are illegal in the US anyway), I've noticed less deleterious health effects with raw milk cheese than pasteurized cheese..
re: Miss Needle
60 days is the rule, but you had the right idea. And there's more of a chance of being exposed to Listeria from a salad bar then from a cheese, but that's another story.
Generally I agree with the raw milk having more complex flavor- I find that it has better palate persistence, but it's relatively impossible to compare apples to apples in this respect, because while there may be raw and pasteurized versions of certain cheeses, other factors might also be at play. I'm hard pressed to think of any cheese from the same maker, same livestock, milked at same time of year, etc. where you could truly compare a raw and pasteurized version of the same product.
It would, however, be an interesting experiment.