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Birmingham Cheesehounds

Ok, Bham Cheesehounds: What are you favorite cheeses that are available locally? Where do you buy them? What wine, beer, fruit, nuts, preserves/jams, or whatever, do you pair them with?

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  1. I should learn more about local cheese makers. My latest addiction is Shropshire blue from Whole Foods, spread on (hopefully warm) French bread with a nice Argentine Malbec.

    1. My only experience with local cheese is what I pick up at Pepper Place market. They have had local goat cheese since I started going about 4 years ago. It is tangy and good. I like a bit on some toasted crusty bread with some honey for desert. I have also used it as part of a stuffing (squash blossoms).

      This year a new cheese has arrived as well. It is from Wright Dairy in Alexandria (Anniston Al area)...I have some in the fridge. They have had quite a few different types of cheese so far, maybe 5 or 6 selections. All raw cow's milk cheese :-) They have a web site too. http://www.wrightdairy.com/

      I consider myself a bit of a cheesehound, and I will greatly miss the cheese counter at Tria. I usually go to VRichards for cheese now, and feel satisfied by the quality, service, and selection. (I have an aversion to Whole Foods, and I have not been there enough to say anything about there cheese, but I am sure it would be fine

      )

      This is clearly just going to be a collection of my thoughts on the cheese scene in the Ham...sorry for the ramble ;-)

      5 Replies
      1. re: birminghamvisitor

        Best bet, since the demise of Tria's, is V richard's. Great selection and they mostly cut from the wheel.
        Problem with Whole Foods and Fresh Market: Too much precut cheese. They have the bulk, but precut it for convenience. But they have good selections, although Whole Foods is pricey.
        Continental Bakery in English Village has a few cheeses that go well with their breads (best in town).
        Once upon a time, Classic Wine Co. in downtown Homewood, carried a few select cheeses. I must admit I haven't been there for years because I never really liked the atmosphere.

        1. re: Big Daddy

          V Richards is just too far out of the way for me...Whole Foods has a great selection, and in my experience will fresh-cut and permit you to sample any cheese you ask them to. Another benefit (no one has mentioned this in reference to V Richards, but I can't personally comment) is very interested and informative folks behind the counter. Fresh Market started out pretty strong (FM is actually located closer to me than WF or VR), but their cheese selection seemed to rapidly flag during their first year....When some local wine shop decides to embrace cheese, we may have something! Regular wine and cheese tastings would be awesome, no?

          1. re: Big Daddy

            Just out of curiosity....A lot of people complain about "pre-cut cheese". Yet I, for one, often refrigerate cheese for a few days at least, so that if the cheese was pre-cut the morning I bought it, "shelf time" is not the longest post-cut interval. Plus, I believe most "big" cheese purveyors have cut cheese out on display (think Murray's in NY) when they expect fairly rapid turnover.

            Just a quick poll: How long to y'all typically hold cheese in your fridge? Do you invariably eat it the day you buy it? If not, how do you recommend storing different cheese types? That latter is an issue I hoped to cover in our tasting Chowdown, but it never came up. I store all hard or semi-hard cheeses (i.e. those without "live" rinds) in a baggy! I only wax or parchment-paper washed or bloomy rind cheeses. What do you guys do? Cheese lasts about 3-5 days from purchase in my house. I am the only one who really scarfs it (my wife is not a cheesehound) and I invariably buy too much (typically 4-6 cheeses per store visit). I'm interested in your feedback.

            1. re: curej

              When I lived in NYC, I used to take a lot of cheese courses at Artisanal. Max McCalman, their fromagerie, recommended that people wrap their cheese in parchment paper and then wrap it in plastic. He also recommended that people not buy more cheese than they could eat in three days.

              1. re: mahalan

                Yeah, I've heard that. Just saw Jenkins (Cheese Primer guy) on Rachael Ray a couple of days ago and he wrapped the cheese loosely in wax paper, then loosely in foil, then put it in an unsealed ziplock bag. That's a lot of trouble, if you ask me. I usually just wrap loosely in wax paper loosely for hard or semihard cheeses. I put real stinkers in one or more ziplocks to keep my wife from throwing them (and me) out, though. Your last point is perhaps the best one...if you don't overbuy, you don't have storage issues. Unfortunately, I never remember that when I'm at the cheese counter....."Oh I want that, and I guess that, and some of that, too".....

        2. I'd agree with the other posts here. V. Richard's is the best bet since Tria's gone. We do buy cheese at Whole Foods; the selection is larger, but it's generally pre-cut. You can ask for samples, and if you really want them to cut it fresh they will do it.

          3 Replies
          1. re: bhamdining

            I recently went to V. Richards.....Really, their cheese selection is pretty inferior to Whole Foods' selection. I really can't justify driving past WF to go there, considering where I live. I think the pre-cut argument is kind of silly if a store has rapid product turnover. As I've pointed out before, unless you're going home to eat ALL of the cheese immediately, it's going to be in your fridge longer than it was cut and in the cooler at WF. If you ARE going to eat it immediately, or if you want "a fresh cut wedge", they will cut it for you anyway, so "whatever". They have happily cut the cheese for me several times ;)

            They treated us very well at the tasting we had there, too, so I continue to support them. A lot.

            1. re: curej

              Did you do any price comparisons per lb for the same cheeses? VR is so close to me that I rarely make it to WF.

              1. re: Dax

                VR tends to be a little lower-priced than WF on same or comparable cheeses. WF has the better selection. Both have knowledgeable staff that can help you select.

          2. My Mom had been telling me about Belle Chevre being at the Costco in Birmingham. It's made in Elkmont, AL. They recently did a demo at the location where we shop in ATL. I really like it. Thinking about making a goat cheese insalata caprese with the loads of Sungold cherry tomatoes coming in from our garden.

            4 Replies
            1. re: ted

              Belle Chevre is an excellent goat cheese, but there is another (surprisingly much less expensive) French-produced chevre sitting next to it at Costco that, for my money, is quite good. I like to support local industry, and do buy Belle Chevre, but the price differential doesn't make it an easy choice. By the way, a disc of goat cheese on a black pepper or garlic Carr's with several slivers of ripe avocado on top and a grate or two of black pepper is hard to beat.

              A few of my faves:

              1. Lagrein (firm and garlicky) with a good red of your choice. Kapow.
              2. Campo de Montalban (mixed source cheese) very similar to Manchego, maybe a little mellower
              3. Humboldt fog (you all know that one)
              4. Valdeon (not too expensive blue that I keep coming back to). Love that Shropshire blue, too, and most any Neal's Yard Stilton offering
              5. Sottocenere (with truffle slivers-awesome stuff)
              6. St. Andre... very "accessible", rich, buttery, (even my non-cheese-loving wife likes it)
              7. Morbier (easy to find), a great melter. Not too different from Raclette.

              Feedback and suggestions welcome!

              1. re: curej

                So what is the less-expensive French chevre you prefer? While I am a huge fan of Belle Chevre, and try to keep my goat cheese money local, I'm always open to options.

                And on the local discussion, I've been impressed with the Wright Dairy cheeses I have purchased this summer at PP. Really like Wanda.

                Also, I have posted on this before, but if you find yourself in the Elberta area of Baldwin County or near the Alabama Gulf Coast, Sweet Home Farm is producing some excellent cheeses. It's actually worth a field trip. The store is only open on Saturdays, and currently they aren't making enough to sell outside of the farm. Go early in the morning, and try to get the place to yourself. There are so many to taste. Here is some info from the Southern Cheesemakers' Guild.
                http://www.southerncheese.com/Pages/s...

                1. re: eatyourveggies1

                  Sweet Home Farm's blue was in the Saveur 100 in the first or second year (about 10 years ago). It's been about that long since I had a buddy pick some up on the way to meet us at the beach. Great stuff.

                  1. re: eatyourveggies1

                    Hope I'm not mistaken...I'm not home right now, but I think it's called Couturier.....I'll get back to you after I check!!

              2. Just a clarification...I'm not restricting my question to cheeses that are produced locally, just cheeses that can be purchased locally....I occasionally read about a "fantastic cheese", but can't find it in Birmingham. I'm mainly interested in your favorite cheeses (that are available locally) so I can learn some new cheeses to try. Hopefully I haven't posted this on the wrong board....

                THANKS!

                23 Replies
                1. re: curej

                  Abondance: a hard, French alpine cheese with an inedible rind and a sharp flavor with hints of olive. This is the favorites in our house.
                  I hope to find some delice de bourgogne somewhere around here. We used to get it pretty regularly at Tria's -- a decadent triple-creme cheese with a soft rind.
                  Another favorite: aged gouda, especially if you can get the five-year. V Richard's has the boerekaas variety, an aged farmhouse gouda.

                  1. re: Big Daddy

                    Pretty sure I've seen delice de bourgogne at Whole Foods. I agree with your fondness of Beerkase, if that's the same as boerekaas....The guy in "Cheese Primer" was not fond of Beerkase, but he and I often disagree!

                    1. re: curej

                      Yes, Steven Jenkins is quite the opinionated fellow.

                      1. re: Big Daddy

                        The wife and I had a super yummy, deep caramel-y, 3-year-old Gouda from Whole Foods Saturday night before dinner.

                          1. re: curej

                            I've noticed more and more top-notch cheeses the last year or two that are not mentioned in Cheese Primer. That's especially true for domestically produced artisan cheeses.

                            1. re: Big Daddy

                              Well, The Cheese Primer is 13 years old now...I'm sure there are lots of new cheeses since its publication, including domestically artisanal ones. I like and use Laura Werlin's book (Cheese Essentials, 2007) frequently. How do you find out about new cheeses, BD?

                              1. re: curej

                                The old-fashioned way: If it looks good, taste it.
                                That's one of the things I miss about Tria's. They were generous with the samples and the woman who worked the counter knew her cheeses. She never steered me wrong.
                                I also take advantage of the samples at Whole Foods, but they tend to pimp the same cheeses all the time.
                                This talk of newer artisan cheeses reminded me: Anyone tried the Sweetgrass Dairy cheeses out of Georgia? The tomme is especially good. Their goat-milk cheese also are good.
                                I've also become quite fond of the Wright's Dairy raw-milk cheddar.

                                1. re: Big Daddy

                                  Ever tried Lagrein? Garlicky wonderfulness.

                                  1. re: curej

                                    Where is it made and where do you buy it? What kind of milk? I've had the raw milk garlic cheddar frm Wright's and loved it. Might be interested in trying the Lagrein.

                                    1. re: Big Daddy

                                      I recently picked up a soft goat's milk cheese from V Richards. I cant remember the name...Li Capprini or something like that, but I am SURE I butchered that....it was on the Left side in the front, and comes portioned from the cheese maker in about 8oz portions. It has a 1/2 slice of black truffle in the middle. Creamy, smooth, garlicky, earthy, and delicious!

                                      On a sad note, I have moved away from the Ham, and now live in So MS, and my cheese selection has been reduced to Kraft American and Cheddar. Tear ;-(

                                      1. re: Big Daddy

                                        Lagrein is an Italian cow's milk cheese. It's discussed here (sorry for the cut and paste in lieu of a little work on my part): http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

                                        I get it at Whole Foods. Love it.

                                    2. re: Big Daddy

                                      I am a fan of the Greenhill soft-ripened cow's milk cheese from Sweetgrass Dairy in Thomasville. If you enjoy Brie, you will love this one!

                                      1. re: The Food Bee

                                        The Green Hill is really tasty. I have been enjoying this week with the Thomasville Tomme (also Sweetgrass).

                                        1. re: eatyourveggies1

                                          Saturday I purchased some Nevat goat cheese (Spain) at Whole Foods. Soft luxurious texture, almost citrus notes. Really amazing. I bought all they had (sorry!). Hopefully they will be getting more in.

                                          Here is a link I found from SF Gate on the cheese.

                                          http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

                                          1. re: eatyourveggies1

                                            Well, I bought some Nevat last night. I don't think it was ripe. It was really pretty bland (my wife agreed). The center was crumbly/chalky. The edge, just deep to the rind, was not gooey or soft but kind of like a dense opaque white gel. I looked up the article about it (@eatyourveggies1) and it said to avoid buying when the rind is snow white...that you should wait until the rind is "dappled with golden molds". I guess I should have read that first. Anway, it will never ripen now. I've made that mistake more than once. I don't think knowledgeable cheese mongers (lookin' at you Whole Foods) should cut and sell cheese that is unripe. But I guess it's a "buyer beware" situation. Sadly, I've made the mistake before. There's a cheese called Caerphilly (which the Nevat actually reminded me of) that I purchased at WF in the past. Also unripe and flavorless, though it is supposed to be a great cheese. Maybe I'll be smarter next time.

                                            If you like washed rind cheeses and don't mind a stinky fridge, I've recently tried two that were both good: Grayson (made in VA, USA) and Adrahan (from Neals Yard Dairy). Worth a shot if you like wash rinds.

                                            1. re: curej

                                              Usually my husband hosts an Oscar party. For him this is his "super bowl" party, and we usually have assorted typical finger foods/appetizers. This year though we're thinking of having a wine and cheese party with the Oscars. I may be calling on your expertise and experience of shopping for cheeses in town. Aside from places listed above, have you found any other unique shops around town for cheeses?

                                              1. re: Jannae

                                                I go to Whole Foods most of the time as it is the closest spot with a good cheese selection (Fresh Market started well but seemed to really downgrade their cheese selections over time). You have to be careful at WF (see my above tale of woe). They will not warn you off a bad selection. People seem to really like V. Richards for cheese, but it's way across town from me. I am very tempted to try ordering from Murray's as their prices seem good. I have not done this to date, but was just looking at their web page before logging in here (http://www.murrayscheese.com/). @Big Daddy they have Delice de Bourgogne on sale there right now. We could organize a Chowdown at Whole Foods at the cheese department! They would probably cooperate.

                                                1. re: curej

                                                  I think we're on the same side of town as you Curej. Easier to get over to WF than drive over to V.Richards. Though one Saturday, I probably need to make the trip over there just to see what they have.

                                                  1. re: Jannae

                                                    Cheesedown does sound good! I agree about WF; and I think they overcharge, too. Decent cheeses, but please cut to order.
                                                    That's why:
                                                    (1) I really, really miss Tria Market. I'venot been to do-di-yo's, so don't know if the cheese counter survived the cut during the conversion. But Tria's was the best place to buy and they both knew and knew how to take care of their cheese.
                                                    (2) It is worth a special trip to V Richard's. If you like things like Berkshire pork, or house-made sausages they do have some sales on those items fairly regularly that makes it more than worth the trip -- say on a Saturday, or during lunch on a weekday if you work intown.
                                                    I agree about Fresh Market -- although along with noting its decline I have to say the way they handled their cheese never was too great in the first place. Odd, considering I really like their butcher shop and seafood counter.

                                        2. re: The Food Bee

                                          I have had mixed experience with Green Hill. Once it was wonderful. The next time it tasted like Elmer's glue. (Yeah, I know, I know, how do I know that.....). I think I may have been tasting strong grassiness, but it was in the winter, and I would have expected the cows to be on hay/sileage that time of year. I dunno though.

                                        3. re: Big Daddy

                                          Eating some Sweetgrass Dairy Thomasville Tomme this morning for breakfast. Loving it. Thanks for the recommendation. Great with thin slices of salametto. I know, I know, NOT a healthy breakfast. Have you tried any Meadow Creek cheeses? I think you'd like Appalachian. You might try Landaff, too (from Landaff creamery in NH).

                          2. At whole foods:

                            UniKasse Reserve Gouda (sweet but delicious)

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: kingwaka

                              The UniKasse is very good. I like the 3-year aged gouda even more. Got some in our fridge right now.

                              1. re: Big Daddy

                                I'll have to give the 3 year gouda a try.

                                I am also thinking about trying the delice de bourgogne and Lagrein. Can anyone try and describe either?

                                1. re: kingwaka

                                  Delice is a soft creamy cheese that, is good with berries. For some reason I kind of think it's like the Sweetgrass' Green Hill which I recently tried for the first time. Very creamy in the center. Lagrein is a nice cow milk cheese with garlicky tones. I was told one time that the cows are fed garlic or something like that, but I later read that they wrap the cheese in wine, garlic, and pepper, which is probably where the flavor really comes from, though I'm not sure. At least to my taste buds, the garlic comes through more obviously than the wine flavors.

                                  A couple more that I like: Morbier (make sure you eat this one at room temp to fulliy appreciate it), Humboldt fog, a wonderful creamy goat cheese. I'm also a Campo de Montalban lover (cow sheep goat mix similar to Manchego, but I like it more?) All are available at WF.

                                  1. re: kingwaka

                                    Delice de bourgogne -- it's butta. So creamy (it's a triple cream). One of my favorites.

                                  2. re: Big Daddy

                                    Young vs. aged goudas are night and day. Young goudas are soft and mild and a little rubbery. Aged goudas take on a nearly Parmagiano like hardness, darken, and get stronger flavored, a slightly sweet tang. It gets little tiny calcium or tyrosine deposits in it too, like aged cheddar does. I love both ends of the gouda age spectrum.

                                2. I so admire (e.g. envy) cheesehounds' knowledge. How did you guys acquire such insight and knowledge about cheeses? I don't know much beyond major brand kinds/labels. Is there a course I can take somewhere?

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: sheilal

                                    Sheilal --

                                    First....the key is finding a good cheese shop. If you surround yourself with good cheeses, your chances of finding stuff you love goes way up. I know some have complained about Whole Foods precutting their cheese, but I haven't ever had a bad experience to date.

                                    Second...don't be afraid to talk to the people working at the cheese counter. Tell them some of the things you like or don't like and see if they recommend anything. Also, they will probably be more than willing to give you a sample or two.

                                    Most of my favorite cheeses have either been found because three ways:

                                    1. Cheese counter worker gives me a sample or recommendation
                                    2. Whole Foods has samples out for anyone to try
                                    3. Having cheese with friends and seeing what they like

                                    1. re: sheilal

                                      I'd add that it's a good idea to journal your cheese experiences....easy as marking comments in the margin of a decent Cheese book. (Jenkins, Werlins, many other choices)...."Loved it, hated it, was great with...whatever. " If you don't do the latter it's easy to forget what you thought of this or that cheese. I'm hoping they'll get an app for cheese tasting for the Droid soon.

                                      1. re: curej

                                        Thanks kingwaka and curej! I now have a good idea of where to start. Can you recommend a specific book for beginners? When I google for a cheese book, I get a lot of options, but don't know which ones will be over my head.

                                        1. re: sheilal

                                          I was fortunate enough to start to get into cheese when I lived in Atlanta and the DeKalb Farmer's Market was aggressive about handing out samples to educate the public.
                                          When I got serious about cheese, I bought Steve Jenkins' Cheese Primer. It may be a bit dated now, and he has some interesting biases on certain cheeses. But you learn alot about the classic cheeses and styles from around the world.
                                          The above advice is right on: Take advantage of samples (WF is great about that). Ask questions of a knowlegable cheese counter staff (WF and V Richards here). Try cheese plates at good restaurants and ask questions about what you're getting (Hot and Hot, Satterfield's, Highland, Chez Fon Fon, etc.).
                                          But most of all, just plunge in and try them. Get 2-3 cheeses in quantities of 1/3 to 1/2 pound -- either "flights" of similar cheeses like soft rind, washed rind, hard cheeses, goat or sheep milk or just one of each style. Keep track of the ones you like and try other variations of similar cheeses the next trip to the cheese counter.
                                          Cook with some of these cheeses. You haven't lived until you make a macaroni and cheese with a good gruyere (especially if you make the sauce with Wright Dairy whole milk). Find an aggressive farmstead cheddar to put on a burger and see how it enhances the flavor. Put a little blue cheese in a cream sauce to top pasta.
                                          Ban the can: use only freshly grated real parmigiano or other hard Italian cheese to top pasta.

                                    2. I feel like I remember a fancy market at Soho Square... do they have a decent selection? I'll be staying at the Aloft hotel there this weekend, and am would love to find something nice to snack on in the immediate area.

                                      Thoughts?

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: EJC

                                        I suspect you are talking about Tria, which is, alas, gone. The two best sources of cheese in the area are probably V. Richards in the Forest Park area or Whole Foods, just a few miles east down 280.

                                      2. This morning I am enjoying Vintage Van Gogh, a mildly aged mellow gouda (Wisc) that is very richly flavorful, but not as hard as longer-aged gouda (and not as sweet,either). A good cheese, reasonably priced at WF. Recommended.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: curej

                                          cure -- I had that cheese recently and it is good. I prefer the aged stuff, but my wife said it was her favorite cheese I had bought in the last few months.

                                          1. re: kingwaka

                                            Yeah, this cheese is a "middle aged" gouda. It is definitely less flavorful (less dark, sweet/caramelly) than a >3 year aged gouda, but is not as hard, either (and no tiny crystals). It is, on the other hand, much richer and more delicious than a really young gouda. It definitely has its place at the table.

                                            1. re: curej

                                              Please see the Google Board for some comments on the Cheesedown event.

                                        2. A couple of links to info that may help you find some new cheeses that you like (the second link provides a more manageable list). The number of winninng American and Canadian producers surprised me:

                                          http://www.worldchampioncheese.org/_a...

                                          http://www.worldchampioncheese.org/_a...

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: curej

                                            Anyone who is interested in a cheese tasting event on April 15, please scurry on over to the Google Groups page for needed info. Thanks!!

                                            1. re: curej

                                              Curej thank you for leading the planning on this event!

                                              Is there anything we need to be doing now to prepare for the tasting such as reading up on cheeses so we better understand the nuances one looks for in the different varieties?

                                              1. re: Jannae

                                                I'd leaf through some cheese books at BN before buying any....cheese book recommendations are like cheese recommendations...highly subjective. I like Laura Werlin's Book, Max MacCalman's newest (Mastering Cheese), and the aging "Cheese Primer". I just started reading Liz Thorpe's "Cheese Chronicles"...interesting so far, but probably not what you're looking for....

                                                Some useful web pages that I found by Googling:

                                                http://www.cheese.com/

                                                http://entertaining.about.com/od/chee...

                                                http://www.forkandbottle.com/cheese/r...

                                                http://www.wischeesemakersassn.org/

                                                http://www.sfgate.com/columns/cheesec...

                                                http://www.worldchampioncheese.org/

                                                http://www.murrayscheese.com/

                                                http://www.fromages.com/

                                                1. re: curej

                                                  I learned a lot from Murray's website and then from the Cheese Primer when I first got started.

                                          2. Here's a great write-up about Alabama's very own Wright Dairy. From the sound of it, I see a road trip in my future!

                                            http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/03/ch...

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: sheilal

                                              Are you gonna come to the cheese tasting if we can get it scheduled? Please see the Google groups page.

                                              1. re: curej

                                                I definitely went over to the groups page and checked things out. I even joined.! That particular day, however, won't work for me. I have class on Mondays and Thursday nights.

                                              2. re: sheilal

                                                I've been going to Wright's Dairy for years, whenever I have been passing through the area. Their strawberry ice cream is on that list of 100 Things in Alabama to Eat Before You Die. Enjoy your road trip!

                                              3. A couple of new tries that I was very pleased with:
                                                Landaff, a cow's mild cheese from NH that is tart/tangy, salty, creamy, buttery, moderately dense, and moist. I really liked this one.

                                                Appalachian (Meadow Creek) another cow milk cheese, oh so nice...by the same folks that make Grayson (which is great, but a different bird altogther....washed rind stinkiness, kind of like Taleggio but a slightly more firm texture).

                                                Both from WF, and no I don't work there.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: curej

                                                  No part time gig at WF to pay for your cheese habit? :)

                                                  Both cheeses sound great. I'll add them to my list of must tries.

                                                    1. re: curej

                                                      Most recent "big time" recommendation: Seal Bay Triple Cream Brie. A knockout.

                                                2. I tried (Wright Dairy's) Yellow Moon Piedmont cheese recently. It was too salty for my taste. Otherwise, it was pretty good. I still like their "Wanda" best. Another recent good one: O'Banon Goat cheese wrapped in bourboned chestnut leaves from WF. Really good. Coincidentally, today I picked up (at Costco) a puck of Alabama's Belle Chevre wrapped in grape leaves. I haven't tasted it yet. Stay tuned.

                                                  1. Opened the "Greek Kiss" grape-leaf wrapped Belle Chevre goat puck tonight and ate some on garlic Carr's. Awesome. The grape leaves really play a nice round herbal note on the cheese's tart edge. Deeelish. Available at Costco. I suspect you could find it at Whole Foods, too. I didn't actually eat the grape leaves (though I guess I could have). Duh.

                                                    1. A few sheep's milk cheese recs. These are all related/similar:
                                                      Right now I'm eating Zamorano. A very dense heady lanolin-y and wonderful cheese. I think it's a little more flavorful and rich than the last manchego I had from Whole Foods, though I loved that, too. Roncal is another that I absolutely love. Finally, Campo De Montalban, which softens the sheepy taste by mixing with cow's and goat milks. It may be the most "accessible" sheep cheese. I love it, but it's a little boring when compared to Roncal and Zamorano. These are great with a crisp cool glass of riesling (IMO, I'm no expert). It would be very cool to do a tasting of sheep and goat cheeses sometime.....

                                                      14 Replies
                                                      1. re: curej

                                                        Thank you for the sheep's milk cheese recommendations. Hope to be able to start expanding my cheese selections in the near future.
                                                        I'd be up for a tasting of sheep and goat's milk cheeses. Heck, I'd even go for some of the Red Hawk again with a nice toasty baguette.

                                                        1. re: curej

                                                          Ossau-Iraty is another I've had that's fabulous.

                                                          1. re: curej

                                                            There's a couple of cheeses available at Costco that I've enjoyed alot. One is a goat Brie. The goat taste kicks in at the end and I think this would be a very approachable goat cheese for non-lovers. Another is a grape-leaf wrapped Belle Chevre offering that is very nice. Neither of these requires you to buy the usual monstrous quantity that makes Costco membership frustrating for the little guy.

                                                            Also loving Cordobes, a mild sheep's milk cheese from Whole Foods. Really nice.

                                                            Finally, my new favorite cheese info page: http://www.coldbacon.com/cheese.html

                                                            Informative and funny!

                                                            1. re: curej

                                                              Eating Cypress Grove's Lamb Chopper (sheep's milk) right now. Nice texture, soft chew, mild sheepiness, mellow and rich. Liking it VERY much with a glass of MacMurray Pinot Noir. I also bought a precut, shrink-wrapped package of Roth Private Reserve. Disappointingly dried out and crumbly, nearly like a parmigiano in texture but with much less flavor. It was on sale...I should have suspected....This cheese (the Roth) is a prize winner, but my purchase is quite nasty. We had this cheese at the Chowhound cheese event at WF a while back and my sample at that time was more wisely selected.

                                                              1. re: curej

                                                                Yeah, that Roth was one of my favorites at the cheesedown. At Pepper Place ion Saturday I bought some of the Cumberland cheese from Sequatchie Cove Farms of Tennessee, which comes down every month or so with pork, beef, lamb and now cheese. Very nice -- sharp and creamy with a hard rind that had a good coating of mold.

                                                                1. re: Big Daddy

                                                                  10 seconds in the microwave (!!!heresy!!!) and the "dried out" Roth became quite edible.

                                                                  I bought another (my second) wedge of Winnemere (Jasper Hill). Still not quite as wonderful as it's supposed to be. Pretty bland. I don't think I let it sit out long enough before eating it, though, so it hadn't had time to flower.

                                                                  1. re: curej

                                                                    I let the Winnemere set out longer. Still don't love it. Kind of "nyeh".

                                                                    Anyway....

                                                                    5-6 p.m. wine and cheese pairing at Whole Foods tonight (7/26/10). Be there or be square.

                                                                    1. re: curej

                                                                      Guess the hubby and I are "square" then since we missed it. How was it?

                                                                      1. re: Jannae

                                                                        We went but didn't do the cheese thing...didn't like the selection for that evening.

                                                            2. re: curej

                                                              Ossau-Iraty is also my favorite. It seems to be MUCH better in France than here. Don't know if it's because it doesn't travel well or if it's because it's easier to serve it properly aged there than here.

                                                              Additionally, I really enjoy Montgomery Cheddar and Sainte Maure ("cheese on a stick").

                                                              1. re: mahalan

                                                                Where do you buy these, Mahalan? Don't think I've seen them before.

                                                                1. re: curej

                                                                  I can usually find them at Artisanal in NYC which ships overnight from their website(expensive but worth it). Additionally, I've found Ossau-Iraty at Whole Foods. I don't think they store/age it properly, though, because it doesn't have its complexity and nuttiness like it does when I've gotten it from Artisanal or had it in France.

                                                                  1. re: mahalan

                                                                    Thanks. I've only ever had Whole Foods Ossau-Iraty (and liked it a lot), so if that's bad, I guess I'd REALLY love it from your sources.

                                                                    1. re: curej

                                                                      Had this Whole Foods Ossau Iraty again recently (not currently available at Bham Whole Foods...got it at the WF in Charleston, SC). Loved it. Again.

                                                          2. Just finished some Leonora, a Spanish goat cheese that I thought was spectacular. I couldn't stop once I got started. Whole Foods. A definite recommendation for goat cheese lovers. Here's an informational link for the curious:

                                                            http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/shop/...

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: curej

                                                              Coupole. A little white brain of a cheese. Center is like rich mildly flavored goat cream cheese. This surrounded by a thin custardy layer similar to Humboldt Fog. The rind is deliciously edible. Man did I love this. Reasonably priced at Whole Foods. You GOTTA try this one. I like it even better than Leonora, which I loved. Make sense? Anyway, if you're a goat cheese lover, don't miss this one.

                                                              http://www.vermontcreamery.com/coupole/

                                                              1. re: curej

                                                                Isn't this the time of year Whole Foods recommends buying cheese? I thought they said fall, around Thanksgiving.

                                                                1. re: Jannae

                                                                  Cheeses are definitely seasonal...depending on what the animals are fed, how long the cheese is aged, etc. I believe that this time of year WF stocks a larger selection of triple creams, but it's because it's party season, I think, not because of seasonal production issues. Generally, you can find great cheeses year-round. The trick is learning when certain cheeses are at their best...I'm still trying to learn that...