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sourgirl Apr 14, 2010 02:28 PM

I love most cheeses, especially comte, gruyere, brie de nangis, and st. albray. I am looking for some new cheeses to try, especially one in the hard, aged cheese category and maybe another interesting brie or camembert. I do not like blue cheese or goat cheese, and am not a fan of extremely strong cheese. I would love some suggestions for a new favorite. Thanks!

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  1. boyzoma RE: sourgirl Apr 14, 2010 02:35 PM

    Well, I'm from the NW in the US and there is nothing better here than Tillamook Cheese! It's a life staple. They have quite a variety and family members that have moved out of the area absolutely love it as gifts. Not sure where you are, but if you have not tried it, give it a go.


    1. l
      LauraGrace RE: sourgirl Apr 14, 2010 05:34 PM

      For camembert, Old Chatham's Hudson Valley camembert is ridiculously good. SO creamy and nutty and buttery.

      For hard cheeses, I LOVE really aged gouda -- Rembrandt is one I've had and it's nice. Any aged gouda that has those crunchy, flaky bits throughout it is a winner in my book. There's a genuine Dutch gouda aged four years that's often available at my local Whole Foods. Yum.

      2 Replies
      1. re: LauraGrace
        soypower RE: LauraGrace Apr 15, 2010 08:36 PM

        Ditto on the aged Gouda...My favorite is Old Amsterdam. It has a nutty, buttery taste with little crystals of salty goodness. I'll buy a small wedge and intend to just eat a piece or two and before I know it, I've eaten the whole thing.

        1. re: LauraGrace
          kscooley RE: LauraGrace Oct 16, 2011 05:02 PM

          I just bought a fabulous Robusto gouda from Whole Foods. It went into a yummy "mac" and cheese dish. Even my kids went nuts over it!

        2. Cherylptw RE: sourgirl Apr 14, 2010 06:50 PM

          Smoked Gouda cheese...

          2 Replies
          1. re: Cherylptw
            lsmutko RE: Cherylptw Jul 21, 2011 01:15 PM

            I'm currently indulging in a very bad addiction to Yancey's Fancy smoked gouda with bacon. Granted, it's not cheese-shop sophisticated (I do appreciate those) but it's cheese. With bacon!

            1. re: Cherylptw
              Olliegator RE: Cherylptw Oct 16, 2011 07:54 PM

              Yum. I once made a grilled cheese on our bakery's whole grain bread with smoked gouda, vine ripened tomatoes from the garden, and avocado.

            2. j
              jhopp217 RE: sourgirl Apr 14, 2010 09:11 PM

              It's not a knock your socks off cheese, but I love ricotta salata as far as hard cheeses go. As long as it's not too salty. Definitely not an aged cheese though. As for the creamier cheeses, have you tried Explorateur? It's great because it is very different depending on age. St. Andre is also one of my favorites.

              1. l
                LJBTampa RE: sourgirl Apr 15, 2010 11:25 AM

                I fell in love with Idiazabal when it was included in a cheese plate at a tapas restaurant. It's a Spanish sheep's milk cheese. Delicious with a drizzle of honey or a bit of fig preserves.

                1. DonShirer RE: sourgirl Apr 15, 2010 04:33 PM

                  In the hard cheese category aged Gouda leads my list, but I am currently happily exploring various varieties of Manchego, including Cato Corner's Womanchego.

                  For a brie type, have you tried Fromager d'Affinois, Chaource or Brillat Savarin?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: DonShirer
                    LauraGrace RE: DonShirer Apr 15, 2010 07:10 PM

                    +1. Fromager d'Affinois is amazing.

                    1. re: DonShirer
                      jhopp217 RE: DonShirer Apr 16, 2010 03:38 PM

                      Brillat Savarin - Nice one!

                      1. re: DonShirer
                        Morgan Crumm RE: DonShirer Feb 10, 2011 09:32 AM

                        Mmmm...Chaource...in my happy place now.

                      2. Bill Hunt RE: sourgirl Apr 15, 2010 07:24 PM

                        So very much will depend on where you live, and if you wish to order your cheeses in, or purchase them from a cheesemonger.

                        Personally, I do a bit of both. Some come from California and the Pacific NW, while some come from mid-America. Still others come from Italy. However, the majority come from a local cheese shop, and I am always open to their suggestions.

                        I have found that one of our Whole Foods stores in PHX has a very good cheese selection, and some pretty knowledgeable staff in that department.

                        Good luck,


                        1. Veggo RE: sourgirl Apr 15, 2010 07:47 PM

                          For your brie- Camembert family, try St Marcellin.
                          No mention of cheddars? They have untold dimensions and age well.
                          I am delighted to see hard, aged Jarlbergs more often. Concentrated flavor, useful in tapas and salads.
                          You are likely to be young, and some day you will discover Epoisses.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Veggo
                            BamiaWruz RE: Veggo Apr 15, 2010 10:35 PM

                            I've discovered Epoisses just last week, it's rather interesting. On a blueberry bagel I rather enjoyed it. However I wouldn't say it's my favourite cheese, and it has little to do with the smell I just fail to see what is so spectacular about it.

                            1. re: BamiaWruz
                              BamiaWruz RE: BamiaWruz Apr 16, 2010 10:10 PM

                              I take back what I said - today I'm loving my Epoisses! It's really growing on me!

                              1. re: BamiaWruz
                                Veggo RE: BamiaWruz Apr 17, 2010 06:21 AM

                                It is best at room temperature. Glad you are enjoying it.

                                1. re: BamiaWruz
                                  jhopp217 RE: BamiaWruz Apr 17, 2010 04:14 PM

                                  I had actually never heard of this cheese so I looked it up and it was on a list of ten stinkiest cheeses, which I didn't agree with. But they had a very humorous comment about it. - Epoisses is a very smelly, runny cheese but if it starts to smell too strongly of ammonia, you should throw it away because it’s no longer edible. If it smells like someone who hasn’t showered in a week, enjoy!

                                  For the complete list, which to me is ridiculous http://blog.hotelclub.com/top-10-stin...

                                  1. re: jhopp217
                                    sunshine842 RE: jhopp217 Jul 21, 2011 03:10 PM

                                    if your Brie smells of ammonia, it's over the hill and should be chucked.

                                    Brie and Camembert are two of the milder-smelling cheeses around....I can't imagine how bad the cheeses must have been to warrant a spot on the list, but they certainly weren't fresh, and likely not genuine.

                            2. s
                              soupkitten RE: sourgirl Apr 15, 2010 08:54 PM

                              so. . . foreign, domestic, local, d) all of the above?

                              1. BamiaWruz RE: sourgirl Apr 15, 2010 10:33 PM

                                My SO and I enjoy hard strong aged cheeses and this is our list:

                                Masterchoice beemster
                                provolone picante

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: BamiaWruz
                                  Bill Hunt RE: BamiaWruz Apr 16, 2010 08:44 PM

                                  I am always on the lookout for hard aged cheeses, as we do our cheese courses just before a dessert, so the wines are usually reds, by that time. I find that more aged, hard cheeses pair at that point in the meal, without bringing out the whites again.

                                  However, there have been many meals, where I will do just that - bring out the appropriate whites for softer cheeses, and keep the reds for the hard cheeses.

                                  Interesting, and thank you,


                                  1. re: BamiaWruz
                                    Antithesisofpop RE: BamiaWruz Apr 20, 2010 12:56 PM

                                    +1 for Mimolette. It can be pricy, but if you've never had it, it's worth the price. For a milder hard cheese, have you tried Manchego?

                                  2. i
                                    igorm RE: sourgirl Apr 16, 2010 03:28 PM

                                    I also love Jarlsberg, it's economical from Costco.

                                    1. BamiaWruz RE: sourgirl Apr 17, 2010 01:05 AM

                                      murcia al vino is a nice cheese too I picked up the other day! It's a dry goat cheese.

                                      1. a
                                        anonymouse1935 RE: sourgirl Apr 17, 2010 03:13 AM

                                        I only just discovered Beemster -- it is wonderful. Emmentaler is another favorite.

                                        1. h
                                          Harters RE: sourgirl Apr 17, 2010 07:02 AM

                                          The OP seems to be looking toward European cheeses. How 'bout Gubbeen - an Irish semi-soft cows cheese made in sort of the French style but distinctly different (if you see what I mean). Or Cooleeney - softer and much more similar to, say, Camembert.

                                          The OP doesnt like goats cheese - but how about sheep? Say a Ribblesdale which is mild (actually too mild for my tastes - but then I go for the stronger the better). Or a Spanish Manchego.

                                          But I guess the best advice is to see what's available where you are. No point me reeling off all my fave. cheese if you can't buy easily buy them. I'm fortunate having two good cheese shops fairly near - one only ten minutes drive, the other about 35 miles away (which I always visit if in the area)

                                          1. m
                                            Marty22 RE: sourgirl Apr 19, 2010 04:57 PM

                                            Have you tried either a Swiss or French Raclette? Ah... it's heavenly melted on a baked potato or melted over scrambled eggs. If you don't mind the stronger cheeses, this might be one you'll die for!

                                            1. q
                                              quirkydeb RE: sourgirl Apr 20, 2010 07:13 AM

                                              Bear Flag's Vella Dry Jack is my current favorite. It's in the harder category and the rind is coated with cocoa. Pecorino Toscano might be too mild, but try it. Both of these cheeses NEED to be tasted on a fresh face. Manchego also needs to be faced before tasting. If they've been cut for too long, the outside faces, which are exposed to the air taste awful (I call it refrigerator flavor)! Oakvale Gouda (from Ohio!) is delightful. I prefer the younger version to the aged on this particular cheese.

                                              A lot of people don't really think of Parmigiano Reggiano as an eating cheese, but if you have a chance to try it from a wheel (rather than a packaged cut), it is a beautiful sweet, nutty, crunchy joy. You also would likely enjoy Appenzeller (a Swiss).

                                              On the softer side, you might want to look into St. Nectaire. It's a factory cheese, but has a really pleasant buttery, yet flavorful (but slightly rubbery) paste. If you feel brave and want to branch out in the brie family, try an Italian Taleggio.

                                              If possible, always taste before you buy. A small cheese shop should expect that (and feel free to ask them to face the cheese first) and Whole Foods will also let you taste.

                                              16 Replies
                                              1. re: quirkydeb
                                                jhopp217 RE: quirkydeb Apr 20, 2010 09:35 AM

                                                I agree completely about the Parmigiano Reggiano. I was at a christening and they had a huge wheel and they couldn't keep people away from it. It was so absolutely ddelicious, I couldn't believe it was Parmigiano Reggiano.

                                                1. re: jhopp217
                                                  quirkydeb RE: jhopp217 Apr 20, 2010 10:28 AM

                                                  "Absolutely delicious" is the way Parmigiano-Reggiano SHOULD be. If it isn't, you are wasting your money on too young or poorly handled cheese and might as well buy something cheaper. The place you get it should be cutting it from their own whole wheel (although they've probably cut the wheel a little to make it more manageable (an 80 pound wheel is a heavy, scary thing to work with). If you have the fortune to be there when a wheel is cracked open, you are in for a happy chowhounding day (lucky jhopp217!).

                                                  Taste it before you buy it!

                                                  1. re: quirkydeb
                                                    greenstate RE: quirkydeb Apr 21, 2010 07:21 PM

                                                    Leerdammer is a cheese from Holland that looks like Swiss cheese but has a distinctly richer and nuttier flavor. People who have not tried it are usually very surprised and impressed,

                                                    1. re: greenstate
                                                      Harters RE: greenstate Apr 22, 2010 01:59 AM

                                                      I like Leerdammer - it's my usual choice when I decide to have Dutch breakfast at home. Much more flavoursome than the more common Edam and Gouda.

                                                      1. re: Harters
                                                        Veggo RE: Harters Apr 22, 2010 03:51 AM

                                                        John, can you shed any light on Irish beer cheese? I bought a wedge some time ago and loved it, but when I ask about it in Florida even at decent cheese shops I just get dumb looks.

                                                        1. re: Veggo
                                                          cheesemaestro RE: Veggo Apr 22, 2010 06:49 AM

                                                          I can think of two cheeses that fit the description of Irish beer cheese, (assuming that you mean a cheese that has beer in it) and are widely available in the US: Kerrygold Dubliner with Irish Stout and Cahill's Porter. Cahill's has a distinctive, marbled appearance and is more hoppy/bitter than the Dubliner.

                                                          1. re: Veggo
                                                            Harters RE: Veggo Feb 11, 2011 05:33 AM

                                                            Dumb look from me as well, Veggo.

                                                            But then I tend to pass over cheese with "stuff" in them. I'm just a simple lad from North Cheshire :-0

                                                            1. re: Harters
                                                              Mestralle RE: Harters Feb 11, 2011 06:52 AM

                                                              I usually pass on cheese with "stuff" in it,too, and I have a huge aversion to stout beer (long story stemming from a youthful incident in England), but I tried a sample of a porter cheese at our local shop and was really pleasantly surprised. It was really rich and tasted almost beefy to me. My husband has become a fanatic.

                                                              1. re: Harters
                                                                sunshine842 RE: Harters Jul 21, 2011 03:03 PM

                                                                Harters, I all but swooned and licked the glass cases at a cheese shop in Chester a few years ago -- the place *reeked* of ripe cheese, and there was a small sign in EVERY cheese in the display case telling the name of the producer. Not the *company* name, mind -- the first and last name of the folks what made it!

                                                                I was so frustrated -- I had a meeting that afternoon, so couldn't buy any to take back to my hotel (I didn't need THAT wafting out of my briefcase!) and was headed back home to the states the next morning.

                                                                It's on my list of places to return to, and I'm crossing my fingers and toes that they're still in business when I get there.

                                                                1. re: sunshine842
                                                                  Harters RE: sunshine842 Jul 22, 2011 03:08 AM

                                                                  You'll be glad to know that Carole's "Cheese Shop" is still alive and well in Chester. Vast majority of the stock is from the British Isles and, as you say, almost entirely small farmhouse producers. For instance, you'll find several from the county - always my first choice. It's about 35 miles from home so a bit far just to buy cheese but it's a good "day out" - walk round the Roman walls and along the river, spot of lunch, stock up on cheese, etc.


                                                                  By way of swap, I've also done window licking at Phillipe Olivier's place in Boulogne - but we've always been stopping another night somewhere on the way home so havnt wanted the car reeking of good cheese for 48 hours

                                                                  1. re: Harters
                                                                    sunshine842 RE: Harters Jul 22, 2011 03:38 AM

                                                                    I don't remember it being that big -- it's been a few years, so hopefully it's that she's expanded since I was there....and good to know it's still there, waiting for my return!

                                                                    1. re: sunshine842
                                                                      Harters RE: sunshine842 Jul 22, 2011 03:49 AM

                                                                      Nope, it's tiny. Four customers at the same time and it's full.

                                                                      1. re: Harters
                                                                        sunshine842 RE: Harters Jul 22, 2011 03:58 AM

                                                                        Then I'm remembering correctly -- and, if I recall, right at the base of one of the stairways coming down off of the wall...wow -- that camera sure makes it look BIG!

                                                                        LOVED Chester and can't wait to take my family back for a visit (so many places to go, so little time!)

                                                      2. re: jhopp217
                                                        Morgan Crumm RE: jhopp217 Feb 10, 2011 09:37 AM

                                                        Just munching on chunks of Parmigiano Reggiano and slowing sipping Chianti can be an amazing Italian getaway.

                                                        1. re: jhopp217
                                                          kscooley RE: jhopp217 Oct 16, 2011 05:06 PM

                                                          Just add some aged balsamic vinegar and parmigiano-reggiano becomes DESSERT. *swoon* I have some delish raw aged parm-reg in my fridge from Whole Foods. It makes my toes curl in delight.

                                                        2. re: quirkydeb
                                                          Veggo RE: quirkydeb Jul 21, 2011 12:12 PM

                                                          Taleggio - wow! My newest favorite. Easily rivals Epoisses, which isn't yet in season. And it's less costly.

                                                        3. m
                                                          Morgan Crumm RE: sourgirl Feb 10, 2011 09:43 AM

                                                          You (and everyone) must try Beehive Cheese Co.'s Barely Buzzed. It's an amazing, firm cheddar, rubbed with a mixture of coffee and lavendar buds--sounds strange, I know, but trust me: when you first cut into a new wheel, the aroma and taste are just about the sexiest things in the world. You just might need a change of pants.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Morgan Crumm
                                                            tracylee RE: Morgan Crumm Oct 20, 2011 11:33 AM

                                                            I tried it and really didn't like it. I referred to it as the only cheese I've eaten that's bitten me back!

                                                            I did however, like their Seahive, with nice crystals throughout.

                                                          2. bigmackdaddy RE: sourgirl Feb 11, 2011 05:50 AM

                                                            You might want to try Cowgirl Creamery MT. TAM. It's a very soft, if not liquid cheese that isn't too strong or mild. It has a very pleasant balance. www.cowgirlcreamery.com

                                                            1. crowmuncher RE: sourgirl Jul 21, 2011 11:43 AM

                                                              Jarlsberg is nice in the sense that it's mild and light. The kind of cheese I like to snack on. It's great with fruit preserves.

                                                              1. sunshine842 RE: sourgirl Jul 21, 2011 12:31 PM

                                                                try a Tomme de Brebis -- sheep's milk, fairly firm, but mild and delicious.

                                                                Also try Sweetgrass Dairy (www.sweetgrassdairy.com) -- a really great producer of some very off-the-beaten-path cheeses.

                                                                Haven't had a chance to buy from them, but we have friends who rave about these folks' cheese: http://www.uplandscheese.com/index.html

                                                                20 Replies
                                                                1. re: sunshine842
                                                                  cheesemaestro RE: sunshine842 Jul 21, 2011 12:40 PM

                                                                  Uplands makes superb cheese, and they make only one cheese, Pleasant Ridge Reserve, which is occasionally available in an extra-aged version. The cheese is modeled on the French Beaufort, but has a flavor all its own. It has won Best in Show at the American Cheese Society's annual competition three times (the only cheese to have done so)--twice for the regular version and once for the extra aged wheel.

                                                                  1. re: cheesemaestro
                                                                    sunshine842 RE: cheesemaestro Jul 21, 2011 12:53 PM

                                                                    Good to know!

                                                                    I'm quite impressed, btw, that the OP specifically named Brie de Nangis -- that's a pretty obscure little corner of Brie that doesn't get a lot of publicity. OP might also enjoy some of the other lesser-known Bries, too -- Brie de Provins is pretty nice, as is Brie de Montereaux.

                                                                    There's also a hard, aged Brie, too, that's pretty interesting -- called Brie Noire (black Brie) -- it has a pretty unusual taste, but it might be to your liking.

                                                                    (there are about 8 varieties of Brie -- I fully realize that I'm spoiled rotten, as I live smack in the middle of the Brie region, and can actually serve an entire course of nothing but Brie.

                                                                    1. re: sunshine842
                                                                      Veggo RE: sunshine842 Jul 21, 2011 01:08 PM

                                                                      Where you live! You are so smart and so pretty and you have such a sparkling personality and can i be your friend?

                                                                      1. re: Veggo
                                                                        sunshine842 RE: Veggo Jul 21, 2011 01:20 PM

                                                                        sure!...but you're buying when I take you to the fromager. (there's a fromager not far from here who produces Melun and Meaux AND gives tours of the cave d'affinage. Feet of an angel, indeed!)

                                                                        Can you guys get Pierre Robert in the States? It's not a true Brie, but a triple-cream produced via the Brie process...and it's *sublime*. (along the lines of Brillat-Savarin and Delices de Bourgogne)

                                                                        1. re: sunshine842
                                                                          cheesemaestro RE: sunshine842 Jul 21, 2011 02:00 PM

                                                                          Yes, the better US shops have Pierre Robert and occasionally even a lesser known triple creme like Jean Grogne. PR is somewhat more expensive here than B-S.

                                                                          1. re: sunshine842
                                                                            Delucacheesemonger RE: sunshine842 Jul 22, 2011 04:10 AM

                                                                            P Robert also makes a great triple creme called Gratte Paille.

                                                                        2. re: sunshine842
                                                                          cheesemaestro RE: sunshine842 Jul 21, 2011 01:09 PM

                                                                          "Im quite impressed, btw, that the OP specifically named Brie de Nangis. . ."

                                                                          Brie de Nangis is one of the few types of Brie with a place name that we get in the US. I've never seen Brie de Provins, nor Brie de Montereaux here. Ditto for Brie Noir. We do get the pasteurized version of Brie de Meaux under the altered name Fromage de Meaux. Theoretically, we could also import Brie de Melun (presumably under the name Fromage de Melun), as Fromagerie Rouzaire makes it available to the US market, but it is rarely found over here. There's nothing like living among the cheesemakers in a country that isn't hung up with pasteurization of lovely cheeses like Brie.

                                                                          1. re: cheesemaestro
                                                                            sunshine842 RE: cheesemaestro Jul 21, 2011 01:17 PM

                                                                            Brie Noir (my mistake, no 'e') is VERY hard to find outside the Brie region -- even in other parts of France. We have a friend who works for a fromager in the Charentes, and he'd never heard of it until he visited and I bought some JUST because I thought he'd find it interesting (which he did - he polished off most of the wedge himself).

                                                                            Interesting that Nangis gets to the US when Melun and Meaux don't...maybe it's aged over the magic 60-day limit? (not sure of the differing processes...just know the flavors). I love the idea that at 59 days it's hazardous to your health, but at midnight on the 60th day it's magically edible. (rolls eyes)

                                                                            1. re: sunshine842
                                                                              cheesemaestro RE: sunshine842 Jul 21, 2011 04:23 PM

                                                                              Well at least the Meaux does get here and the Melun could be brought here. They have to be called "Fromage de. . ." instead of "Brie de. . ." because the cheeses sold in France are DOP cheeses and the DOP standard says that they must be made from raw milk. Since we can't import raw milk Brie de Meaux because of the 60-day rule, Rouzaire has to call the pasteurized version something else, in this case Fromage de Meaux. By way of contrast, Brie de Nangis is not a DOP cheese, so there is no need to change the name for the pasteurized version.

                                                                              The 60-day aging regulation was established back in the late 1940s, based on scientific knowledge of the day. Since then, there have been some studies that claim to show that 60 days isn't long enough, so the FDA has considered changing the rule, even to the point of banning all raw milk cheeses outright. That would be disastrous. Of course, there are other studies that show the opposite, that in fact, properly made and handled raw milk cheeses are just as safe, if not safer than, pasteurized cheeses. Every so many years, the prospect of adding more raw milk cheeses to the prohibited list rears its ugly head. So far we've been successful in keeping the FDA at bay. Let's hope it stays that way. Unfortunately, I see little chance that the US will ever go the other way and relax the rule.

                                                                              1. re: cheesemaestro
                                                                                Veggo RE: cheesemaestro Jul 21, 2011 04:39 PM

                                                                                I'm guessing the FDA is in a similar headlock regarding cheese as it is by the lobbyists for our beef industry that succeed in restricting beef imports from South America. Science has little to do with either. Most restrictive trade policies are unvarnished dirty politics bought and paid for by " special " interests.

                                                                                1. re: Veggo
                                                                                  cheesemaestro RE: Veggo Jul 22, 2011 08:57 AM

                                                                                  Veggo, I really don't think that the ban on selling raw milk cheese aged less than 60 days is related to trade policy or is political in nature. For one thing, the regulation applies both to domestic and imported cheeses. An American cheesemaker selling to the local marketplace is equally bound by the regulation.

                                                                                  There have always been cases of foodborne illess traceable to, or claimed to have been caused by, compromised cheese. Back in the 1940's, it was thought that younger cheeses were more likely to be tied to illness than more aged ones, but it was somewhat of a crapshoot to determine just how long a cheese needed to aged for it to be extremely unlikely that there would be enough pathogenic bacteria left to do harm. After a lot of back and forth among the experts of the day, the government settled on the regulation that has not changed since it was adopted: a minimum aging period of 60 days at a temperature not less than 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

                                                                                  Since that time, there have been numerous outbreaks of foodborne illness from tainted cheese, including a few serious ones resulting in deaths from Listeria or E. Coli. These have been highly publicized. What the FDA would like is for the whole problem to go away. What's the easiest way to do that in their minds? Tell the public that they should consume only cheese made from pasteurized milk and threaten to further restrict the availability of raw milk cheese. Over the years, the FDA has gone from getting involved only when there is a foodborne illness outbreak definitively linked to cheese to intruding when there MIGHT be a link between a foodborne illness and cheese (even when never proved) to taking action even when there is no foodborne illness. Last year, the FDA slammed two cheesemakers in Washington State, one for allegedly unsanitary practices and other for finding a few bad bacteria in some wheels of their cheese. Several cheesemakers have complained that what the FDA expects to find during an inspection is essentially a sterile cheesemaking facility and sterile cheeses--a clearly unachievable goal.

                                                                                  And the science of today? As with just about everything else related to food, there are conflicting studies, including some that conclude that the aging period for raw milk cheese should be lengthened or even that no raw milk cheese of any kind should be legally sold. Of course, the FDA seizes on these studies as proof that it is right, while downplaying the studies with different conclusions. In fact, there are an increasing number of dairy scientists and microbiologists who believe that pasteurized cheeses have more potential to cause harm than raw milk cheeses. The reason? As a raw milk cheese ages, the good bacteria keep the bad ones in check. However, when a cheese is pasteurized, the good and bad bacteria are killed alike. So if bad bacteria are somehow introduced into the cheese later in the cheesemaking process after the milk has been pasteurized, there are no good bacteria left to keep them in check and they are much more likely to run rampant.

                                                                                  What the FDA has consistently refused to admit is that cheesemakers who can vouch for the quality and cleanliness of the milk they use, implement sanitary practices for their facility, and thoroughly understand the cheesemaking process and what kinds of things can compromise the quality and safety of their products can produce raw milk cheeses that present a very low health risk to consumers. Yes, cheese can be made dangerous, but that is almost always because of ignorance or mishandling somewhere along the way. When that happens, the people responsible should be educated and/or appropriately sanctioned. That's no reason, though, to prevent all raw milk cheeses, even those made by knowledgeable and competent cheesemakers, from being sold.

                                                                                  1. re: cheesemaestro
                                                                                    sunshine842 RE: cheesemaestro Jul 22, 2011 09:02 AM

                                                                                    that, and the fact that the entire rest of the planet consumes raw milk cheeses...and most of the rest of the planet has a considerably smaller per-capita rate of fatalities stemming from food-borne illness.

                                                                                    Someday, maybe, someone will wake up.

                                                                                    (and I wish my glasses were still rose-colored enough to believe that it's not protectionist or political)

                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842
                                                                                      cheesemaestro RE: sunshine842 Jul 22, 2011 09:14 AM

                                                                                      Alas, I don't expect positive change in the US anytime soon. Perhaps it's political in the sense that the FDA has traditionally had more clout on the drug side than on the food side, where it has had to share power with the US Department of Agriculture and the individual states. So in the relatively infrequent cases where it can create a cause celebre to demonstrate its power in the food arena, it does so.

                                                                                      1. re: cheesemaestro
                                                                                        sunshine842 RE: cheesemaestro Jul 22, 2011 10:26 AM

                                                                                        kind of like the whole punitive tariff on Roquefort -- other bleus were exempt; only those cheeses specifically inoculated with roquefort inoculant were punitively tariffed.

                                                                                        I have this image of some penny-ante bureaucrat in the Clinton administration (because that's whose administration first enacted punitive tariffs on Roquefort) going through a harmonized tariff list and nothing made sense except Roquefort.

                                                                                        Sounds French. Hey, Darryl, is Roquefort French? Yeah, I think so -- sounds French. Good -- don't have to keep reading through this boring-ass list. We'll tax Roquefort.

                                                                                        Having more than a passing familiarity with the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, I'm pretty sure that the Roquefort producers petitioned to have a special HTS number assigned to their cheeses...and it eventually bit them in the ass, because there was now a special HTS number that could be pulled out and taxed at a different rate than any of the other French bleu cheeses.


                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842
                                                                                          cheesemaestro RE: sunshine842 Jul 22, 2011 03:33 PM

                                                                                          Sunshine, you haven't got the facts quite right. While Penicillium roqueforti, the mold used to blue Roquefort, obviously takes it name from the cheese, it is also used to make the large majority of other blue cheeses in France and elsewhere. (A much smaller number of cheeses are blued with another mold, Penicillium glaucum.) Yet only one cheese was targeted for the tariff, Roquefort itself.

                                                                                          As you may know, the US imposed the tariff to punish the European Union for refusing to buy American beef from cattle fattened with hormone-laced feed. The food products included in the tariff were not only from France. For example, bottled Italian mineral water was also put on the list. Some people claim that there was a strategy behind the product choices. Others say that they were purely random. I've not heard that Roquefort was singled out because it had a special HTS number assigned to it. I rather suspect that it was singled out because of its prestige status as one of the world's greatest cheeses ("le roi des fromages," in the opinion of many) and was better known at the time in the US than other French blue cheeses.

                                                                                          The Bush administration was just as guilty as the Clinton administration in enforcing this ineffective tariff. You may recall that President Bush tried unsuccessfully to triple the tariff on Roquefort just before he left office. Since Obama took over, the tariff has been lifted on a few products (imported mustards are no longer subject to it), but continues for others, such as Roquefort. We can only hope that it will soon disappear entirely. No doubt right after that happens we'll wake up to find that there's a new tariff on Spanish jams and prosciutto!

                                                                                          1. re: cheesemaestro
                                                                                            sunshine842 RE: cheesemaestro Jul 22, 2011 03:59 PM

                                                                                            The harmonized tariff numbers *specifically* say those cheeses inoculated with roquefort inoculant....thus anything inoculated with that particular strain *that is shipped under that HTS number* (this is of crucial importance) is subject to the punitive tariff.

                                                                                            Considering that something like 3% of Roquefort production is shipped to the US, it's hard to believe that this is all that horribly difficult for the producers themselves...and there are a LOT of other cheeses that are imported in *enormously* higher quantities that would have had a much bigger impact. (having said that, the whole thing is ridiculous and is a case of international sandbox slapfights at its finest)

                                                                                            There's a whole science to getting a special tariff number assigned, all of which is wildly off topic and more than a little boring...but in a nutshell a special number makes things easier to import, right up until someone decides to target your industry-- in which case that slick number now becomes a bullseye.

                                                                                            The whole list of products sent up for punitive tariffs reads like the catering wishlist of early 1990s yuppies...who is, I suspect, the demographic group (read:interns) who made up the list to begin with.

                                                                                            (Politics nauseate me in general - and the only reason I mentioned the Clinton administration is because so many people erroneously blame GW Bush for the tariff incident -- he fanned the flames and made it worse, and there's no way this should be taken as defending him -- just making sure the blame gets set where it actually should be, that's all)

                                                                        3. re: cheesemaestro
                                                                          cheesemaestro RE: cheesemaestro Jul 21, 2011 01:19 PM

                                                                          I stand corrected. I just looked at Uplands website and see that they now make a second cheese called Rush Creek Reserve, which is modeled on Vacherin Mont d'Or. This must be a recent development. I've never tasted the new cheese, although knowing cheesemaker Mike Gingrich's high standards, I'm sure he wouldn't have released it unless it is really good.

                                                                          1. re: cheesemaestro
                                                                            sunshine842 RE: cheesemaestro Jul 21, 2011 03:07 PM

                                                                            yes, I can get the real deal here, but wowza...so glad to see this sort of thing showing up in the States. (sadly, hubby doesn't care much for Mont d'Or, preferring a good tartiflette with stinky, STINKY reblochon or piles and piles of raclette with *any* of the wonderful creamy raclette cheeses, so I don't get to indulge my craving very often)

                                                                            1. re: sunshine842
                                                                              lunchbox RE: sunshine842 Nov 18, 2011 01:43 PM

                                                                              Howdy, Maestro-
                                                                              Well said on the raw cheese discussion... but yes, Uplands introduced the Rush Creek Reserve in 2010- only available in the winter. This year's batch is even more "Vacherin-ish" not quite as pungent as the Swiss, but quite rich, complex and oh-so-decadent.

                                                                              1. re: lunchbox
                                                                                cheesemaestro RE: lunchbox Nov 18, 2011 04:11 PM

                                                                                Good to know! Where can it be found?

                                                                      2. t
                                                                        thepanda RE: sourgirl Jul 21, 2011 12:37 PM

                                                                        How about some nice aged gruyere? Fairway here in NYC has a great cave-aged gruyere that's not too strong but has definite flavor, and melts beautifully. It's also not too Swiss cheese-y.

                                                                        1. s
                                                                          sourgirl RE: sourgirl Oct 15, 2011 08:11 PM

                                                                          Since posting over a year ago, I have become obsessed with washed rind cheese, thanks to Jasper Hill's Winnimere. I love all of Jasper Hill's cheeses (new favorite is harbison), but Winnimere takes the cake. After trying it on a whim, it lead me to vacherin, tallegio, epoisses, and "barick obama," among others. Any stand-out washed rind suggestions? I especially love vacherin and winnimere because of the bark on the rind, so any other wood-wrapped cheese would be especially appreciated.

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: sourgirl
                                                                            Delucacheesemonger RE: sourgirl Oct 16, 2011 10:29 AM

                                                                            L'Edel de Cleron is a pasteurized Vacherin, as are all Swiss Vacherins now, thanks to the Belgians and the EU. It's wrapping is spruce, same as Winnimere. If you get to France, there is a cheese from the Ariege area called Pechagos. It is a goat vacherin somilar to Cabriolet and is one of my top five French cheeses. Never have seen this product in US. Do a google image search under that name so you can what it looks like. It is awesome as are most of the cheeses around the city of Foix. Cabriolet comes in a box like Vacherin Mont d'Or but has no wood around it.l am not sure of the wood used in wrap of Pechagos but suspect spruce as well. One of the king of washed rind products from northern France is Vieux Lille or more commonly Maroilles, it does indeed reek and has far less salt than the thermalysed Epoisses that are now available. Muenster-Gerome from Alsace also is quite stinky and usually far better priced than the others mentioned. Enjoy.

                                                                            1. re: sourgirl
                                                                              cheesemaestro RE: sourgirl Oct 18, 2011 09:06 AM

                                                                              I'm going to supplement Delucacheesemonger's recommendations with some others that you should be able to find (at least occasionally) in the US.

                                                                              Cheeses wrapped with a band of bark are the exception among washed-rind cheeses. Most, like l'Edel de Cléron and Winnimere, are modeled on vacherin. There's another French imitator, similar to l'Edel, called Petit Sapin. In the US, Lazy Lady Farm, which produces the Barick Obama you've already tried, makes another cheese called Fil-A-Buster, which is quite stinky and has the bark strip around the rind.

                                                                              Other washed rind cheeses I recommend:

                                                                              The Irish washed rind cheeses from County Cork: Gubbeen, Ardrahan and Durrus. I have some lovely Gubbeen in the house right now. Durrus is only very occasionally found over here, but, if you happen to see it, snap it up. It's the only one made with raw milk. (There's also a fourth one from Ireland--Milleens--but I haven't seen it in years in the US.)

                                                                              Other French cheeses: Langres, Affidélice, Livarot, Pont-l'Evêque, Fromage de Savoie (the "legal" in the US, pasteurized version of Reblochon)

                                                                              Edwin's Munster from Austria is very nice and not overly stinky. It gives the French Munster-Géromé a run for the money in terms of quality.

                                                                              Italy: If you like Taleggio, you will also probably like Brescianella Stagionata, a more aged and savory version of Taleggio.

                                                                              The UK isn't known for its washed-rind cheeses, but there is one, the appropriately named Stinking Bishop, that you must try if you like cheeses that really reek!

                                                                              From Switzerland, I would recommend Försterkäse, although there are several others, such as Beermat aka Aarauer Beerdeckel. Most of these are expensive. The best places to find Swiss washed rinds are Artisanal in NYC and Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge, MA, which always seem to have a few in stock.

                                                                              Last but not least, the good old USA. There's plenty to choose from, much more than people think. You're familiar with Winnimere and Barick Obama and I've already mentioned Fil-A-Buster. Another that I highly recommend is Grayson (Meadow Creek Farm, VA). It has a big, beefy flavor, especially when it's more aged. It's produced only when the cows are on pasture, so I like it best in winter and early spring, when it's been around for a while, although it's very good at any time of the year. Cato Corner Farm in CT specializes in washed-rind cheeses. Their best known cheese is Hooligan, which is washed in brine, but by varying the wash, they've come up with several others: Drunken Hooligan (wine and grape must), Despearado (pear brandy) and Drunk Monk (ale).

                                                                              Red Hawk from Cowgirl Creamery in CA is unusual in that it is a triple-crème washed-rind cheese. It's absolutely delicious. For a delightful, but quite mild cheese, try Oma, made by the von Trapp family in VT. (Yes, THAT von Trapp family!) Also Dorset from Consider Bardwell in VT.

                                                                              Most washed-rind cheeses are made with cow's milk, but there are a few made with goat's milk that I can recommend: Mont St. Francis (Capriole Farm, IN), Manchester (Consider Bardwell) and Red Cloud (Haystack Mountain Dairy, CO).

                                                                              Happy eating!

                                                                              1. re: cheesemaestro
                                                                                sourgirl RE: cheesemaestro Oct 19, 2011 05:34 PM

                                                                                wow, thank you so much for all of those wonderful recommendations! I'm in vermont, so it shouldn't be hard for me to track down the Consider Bardwell and Von Trapp. Red Hawk sounds amazing, as does Hooligan. Actually, they all sound delicious, and I can't wait to cross them off my list! Next time I'm in the city I'm headed to Murray's and Artisanal to look for some of the imported ones.

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