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A change of pace from everyday brie?

Dave MP Jan 18, 2013 10:00 AM

I need to buy some cheese for a small gathering this evening. I have a limited budget (my total spent on cheese for this event should not exceed $20, and it needs to feed 7 people). I want to get three types of cheese.

I often get brie on occasions like this, but I'm kind of bored of the less-expensive brands I often buy. What do people suggest I get as a substitute, keeping in mind that the piece of cheese I buy will still need to be around $7 or less. I want something with a similar texture. I'll be shopping at a very well-stocked Whole Foods.

Opinions on other cheeses I should throw in would be great too!

Dave MP

  1. Jay F Apr 22, 2013 11:03 AM

    I like St. Andre, a more flavorful triple creme. My Whole Foods carries it for $9.99/lb.

    1. HillJ Jan 19, 2013 02:34 PM

      I happen to love whipped cheeses and brie is one cheese that I find lends itself particularly well to whipping. Served with prepared buckwheat crepes and some fruit compote (fig, pear, apricot) it's a nice surprise on a cheese plate.

      1. n
        nlgardener Jan 18, 2013 03:42 PM

        Cambozola. It's a triple creme German blue Brie. To die for. Not sure how it would fit in the entertaining budget, but if I had to pick one cheese to eat until I died from the coronary, it would be Cambozola.

        6 Replies
        1. re: nlgardener
          cheeseplatesf Jan 18, 2013 03:50 PM

          I love an extra aged Cambozola that I tried once at a Fancy Food Show - I think it's called Cambozola Black Label/ Black Diamond or something like that

          1. re: nlgardener
            cheesemaestro Jan 18, 2013 04:22 PM

            Then you must try Montagnolo, another triple crème blue from Bavaria. It's even better than Cambozola.

            1. re: cheesemaestro
              nlgardener Jan 18, 2013 05:31 PM

              I am starting a pilgrimage to seek it out!!

              1. re: cheesemaestro
                cheesemonger Jan 18, 2013 10:27 PM

                Montagnolo hasn't been available for years. It was replaced by the Cambozola Black label in 2009 or 2010.

                1. re: cheesemonger
                  cheesemaestro Jan 19, 2013 09:19 AM

                  That's a shame. I haven't had it for at least three years. It definitely still exists. It was named Supreme Champion cheese at the International Cheese Awards in England last July, beating out over 3,900 other entries. It appears to be still available in the UK and Canada.

              2. re: nlgardener
                njmarshall55 Apr 22, 2013 10:59 AM

                Just found it on the shelf. Have to admit, the regular Cambozola is excellent! Glad I picked it up.

              3. c
                cheeseplatesf Jan 18, 2013 01:21 PM

                Manchego ($12 - $18.99) a pound is always a crowd pleaser as is a generic Ossau Iraty ($6.99 - $12.99) - both sheep milk

                Waag Gouda when it's around $6.99 - $8.99 is another no fail cheese

                St Agur is a triple cream blue that most people will LOVE ($12.99 ish)

                I love going to Rainbow Grocery on Folsom street. Their cheese selection is well stocked and the turn over rate is high so cheeses are generally in better condition, they will let you taste any cheese you are interested in, and they will cut down to a larger piece for you.

                3 Replies
                1. re: cheeseplatesf
                  Veggo Jan 18, 2013 01:30 PM

                  Nice price on the St Agur - I was paying $20 or more in Dallas. My favorite blue.

                  1. re: cheeseplatesf
                    cheesemaestro Jan 18, 2013 01:34 PM

                    I'm not sure if the $12.99 for St. Agur is per pound, but I've never seen it sold for that low a price. Depending on where you get it, it's normally in the $20-$25 range. There are several other blues that are usually less expensive, including Maytag Blue, Bleu d'Auvergne and Fourme d'Ambert. It should also be easy to find Point Reyes Blue in San Francisco. A minor point: St. Agur, at 60% butterfat, is a double, not a triple, cream.

                    1. re: cheesemaestro
                      cheeseplatesf Jan 18, 2013 03:19 PM

                      Blue d'Auvergne and Fourme d'Ambert LESS than St. Agur.. wow that's not how it breaks down at my cheese shops! I wish it were that case for me :)

                  2. c
                    cheesemaestro Jan 18, 2013 01:03 PM

                    Living on the other side of the US, it's been a while since I've visited the San Francisco cheese shops, but I've always liked Cheese Plus. That may be out of the way for you, though.

                    There are times when I don't think that asking us CHers is the best way to go about something, and this is one of them. If you are getting your cheese at a shop or a well-stocked cheese department, you don't need us. We don't know exactly what is in stock at your Whole Foods, what the prices are, or what happens to be in really good condition today. Tell the cheesemonger how many people you need to feed and how much you have to spend and let him/her suggest some cheeses. Ask for a taste before buying.

                    As a quantity guideline, I would normally serve about an ounce of each cheese, which for me would mean buying half a pound of each. That would allow me to serve a slightly generous ounce or else have a little left over for myself the next day. A total of 1.5 lbs. of cheese on a $20 budget translates to an average price of $13.33/lb. Prices in San Francisco tend to be higher than in other places, so if this limits your options too much, you could cut the portion size a little or else serve two cheeses instead of three.

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: cheesemaestro
                      Dave MP Jan 18, 2013 01:21 PM

                      Cool, this is very helpful! Will be going to buy the cheese soon, and will report back on my experience.

                      1. re: cheesemaestro
                        Dave MP Jan 18, 2013 02:58 PM

                        Just got back from buying cheese at my local Whole Foods, and the woman at the cheese counter was extremely helpful. She guided me to good choices within my price range, and I ended up with three interesting cheeses:

                        1) Ashed St. Maura Jacquin - a goat's milk cheese that is apparently at the perfect ripeness right now. $20.99 per lb

                        2) Testun al Berolo Beppino Occelli - Goat/sheeps milk cheese packed in grape must, from Italy. $38.99 per lb

                        3) Vintage sheep gouda Uniekaas - $19.99 per lb

                        Serving with sliced Arkansas black apples, sliced baguette and some crackers (as backup)

                        All of these cheeses were expensive, so everyone will have smaller amounts. But hopefully it will be worth it.

                        1. re: Dave MP
                          cheesemaestro Jan 18, 2013 03:12 PM

                          Nice selection! All great cheeses. I'm particularly fond of Testun al Barolo. Let us know how things turn out with your guests.

                          1. re: Dave MP
                            cheeseplatesf Jan 18, 2013 03:21 PM

                            good call on the Testun! This pairs with several red wines nicely - I like malbec, a fruity pinot, or anything else that's juicy/ fruity :)

                            1. re: cheeseplatesf
                              Ruth Lafler Jan 18, 2013 04:01 PM

                              Hmmm ... not fond of the Testun. Interesting choices, though. A long way from Brie! I hope your guests enjoy them.

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                Dave MP Jan 18, 2013 05:01 PM

                                It was great to try new cheeses. But I think I'm in the same camp as Ruth...I didn't love the Testun. It was my least favorite of the three. I didn't think the grape must added that much, and I thought it was only okay, especially considering its price per lb was double the other cheeses.

                                We were pretty split on the ashed goat cheese...it was on the stinky side. Too much for some, though others really enjoyed.

                                The gouda was a hit for everyone, especially with the apples. It's a really creamy gouda, which I really liked.

                                Thanks for the tips. Looking forward to trying more cheeses soon!

                                1. re: Dave MP
                                  Ruth Lafler Jan 18, 2013 05:53 PM

                                  You really can't go wrong with an aged gouda -- they appeal to almost everyone.

                                  1. re: Dave MP
                                    Ruth Lafler Apr 22, 2013 11:37 AM

                                    I know this is an old(er) thread, but I just wanted to add something to Dave's comment about the sheep gouda being creamy.

                                    One reason I love sheep's milk cheeses is the texture. The proteins are slightly different from cow's milk, and they bind differently, so I find sheep's milk cheeses have a more pleasing mouthfeel: less gluey/gummy.

                              2. re: Dave MP
                                Veggo Jan 18, 2013 03:31 PM

                                Nice, although the cows were dealt out!

                                1. re: Veggo
                                  cheesemaestro Jan 18, 2013 03:34 PM

                                  Vivent les moutons! (Long live the sheep!)

                            2. njmarshall55 Jan 18, 2013 12:11 PM

                              Since your budget for cheese is $20, are there any other things you're putting out that you may be able to trade off...fruit? Bread? etc.?
                              As to cheese, I'd make a simple rec of one hard, one semi-soft, and one soft...textures and flavors. Believe me...no expert here, but like art, I know what I like.

                              1. Ruth Lafler Jan 18, 2013 11:18 AM

                                If you're on a limited budget, go to Trader Joe's instead of WF!

                                For three cheeses in your price range a little more interesting than the norm, I'd get:

                                St. Andre (a triple cream instead of the brie)
                                Parrano (a medium aged gouda)
                                A manchego or something similar

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                  Dave MP Jan 18, 2013 11:44 AM

                                  Actually, now that I think of it, I could probably go to Cowgirl in the Ferry Building (SF). Also not necessarily cheap, but I love going there.

                                  Unfortunately unable to go to Trader Joe's for this errand...but thanks for the tips, especially the parrano which I haven't tried before!

                                  1. re: Dave MP
                                    Ruth Lafler Jan 18, 2013 11:49 AM

                                    I'm not enamored of Cowgirl. The only thing I go there specifically to buy is their bulk mascarpone, which is heavenly and reasonably priced.

                                    In my experience everyone likes Parrano -- people who aren't cheeseheads love it, and cheese snobs won't turn their noses up at it.

                                    1. re: Dave MP
                                      ceekskat Apr 22, 2013 11:30 AM

                                      Too bad you won't be able to hit up TJ's...at $11/12 per lb, Delice de Bourgogne is my go to brie (seen at Costco too).

                                      Also LOVE cana de cabra, a goat cheese available at WF & Cowgirl. ($16.99/lb at WF).

                                      edit: didn't realize this is old thread :)

                                  2. sunshine842 Jan 18, 2013 11:01 AM

                                    You might want to have a look to see if you can find a wedge of Chaumes -- it's a softer cheese made in the southwest of France. It's NOT a brie, but it's soft, mild, and very different from the usual offerings.

                                    I used to buy it at Publix in Florida, so I know it has fairly good distribution.

                                    I would add in a good all-purpose -- a Comte (if you can find it, Gruyere, or a good nutty Swiss -- I like to have something that everyone likes....

                                    Then a bleu or a chevre would be the typical complement -- Maytag is a great American bleu...I'm out of the loop on chevre; sorry.

                                    1. Veggo Jan 18, 2013 10:51 AM

                                      A wedge of ripe taleggio is sexier than everyday brie.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Veggo
                                        sunshine842 Jan 18, 2013 11:02 AM

                                        Damn. Now you tell me.

                                      2. g
                                        GH1618 Jan 18, 2013 10:22 AM

                                        I recently bought a small French brie-like cheese for snacks on a plane called "Supreme La Crème de la Crème." It was extremely soft at room temperature, so goes on crackers. I found it in an ordinary supermarket, not WF. Very nice.

                                        This is it: http://iledefrancecheese.com/index.ph...

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