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Smoked cheese, where to begin!

  • h

Smoked cheese alludes me. Too much smoke, too little smoke. Fake smoke?! (what's that about!)..

What cheeses lend themselves to smoke best and what would you avoid?


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  1. I find this to be a very sensitive matter. Most smoked cheeses are totally unpalatable (to me) but I love both Idiazabal (spain) and smoked provola (Italy). We also had a smoked aged ricotta, also in italy, where the smoking was just a slight enhancement to the savory quality and did not read as smoke as such.

    The amount of smoke in the Idiazabal is almost imperceptible. I think its important to keep the smoke level down in cheeses. Too many times cheesemakers seem to take pride in special flavors/special wood whereas if the smoke is to a level that these factors are perceptible, its probably already too much. Too, some cheeses taste like "smoke flavor" this is obviously a flaw.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jen kalb

      Has any one tried smoked scamorza (scamorza affumicata)?

      1. re: jpr54_1

        the smoked scamorza and provola seem like pretty much the same item in my experience. We buy the plastic wrapped smoked scamorza (is it calabri?) in NY frequently, toast slices of it on a griddle (low-ish heat or it melts into a puddle - you want surface browning and a soft inside) and eat it with a smear of ajvar or a little light tomato sauce and bread. excellent..

    2. I really like Smoked Mozzarella - particularly in a baked eggplant pasta dish I make. The smokiness isn't overpowering, & complements the eggplant wonderfully. It's one of my favorite dishes when eggplant is in season, as it's not a terribly baked pasta dish.

      1. I have had some pleasant smoked gouda and a few others, but I agree with you and jen that too much smoke is not a good thing.

        1. I think one of the best smoked cheese is Up in Smoke by River's Edge - a little hard to find and expensive but very worth it for a small, special fall picnic

          1. About Idiazábal--some are smoked and some aren't.

            Another nice smoked Spanish cheese is queso palmero, a goat cheese from the Canary Islands. There's also San Simón da Costa, a cow's milk cheese that's basically a smoked tetilla.

            1. Thank you, for confirming my smoked cheese hesitations-the amount of smoke really does matter and I tend to prefer a smoked cheese with a backnote.

              Keep them coming, I'm taking notes!

              1. I have struggled finding smoked cheeses I like, as well. About the only one I've enjoyed is smoked provolone, but even then it has to be baked on bread, usually with a sauce or topping.

                I agree that most of the smoked cheeses are just too smokey for me.

                OT: smoked beer is also a vile abomination in my book.

                1. I'm not sure there's any category of cheese that lends itself more than others to being smoked, except possibly the pasta filata (stretched curd) cheeses like mozzarella, scamorza and provolone. There are other smoked cheeses, but I can't say there is a common denominator to them. Like others here, I avoid cheeses where the smoke overpowers everything else.

                  Besides Idiazabal, which may or may not be smoked, you might enjoy Fiore Sardo, a firm sheep's milk cheese from Sardinia. There are also some smoked blue cheeses in the US. I find Moody Blue too smoky, but I quite like Smokey Blue (spelled with the "e") from Rogue Creamery in Oregon.

                  1 Reply
                  1. I really enjoy smoked blue and mozzarella.

                    1. I recently tried Sherwood Smoked cheddar from England. Almost too smoky, with little cheddar flavor to it. Is there a cheddar out there that isn't overwhelmed by the flavor of smoke?

                      1. I've been playing around with my newly acquired Smoking Gun, and one of the fun things to do with it is to smoke cheese. Different cheeses, different wood chips, smoked for different lengths of time. So far, the biggest successes have been gently smoked (with apple wood chips) cheddar and gruyere. A heavily smoked (with mesquite) Roquefort was also surprisingly good.

                        1. Smoked blue cheeses are quite nice but can get a little musty.

                          1. Elude. "Smoked cheese eludes me." Sorry, I've been checking this post multiple times for good ideas and it's been bothering me this whole time.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: bumblecat

                              Feel better? Sometimes spelling eludes me; other times I'm just checking to see if anyone notices.

                              Have a smoked cheese recommendation?

                              1. re: HillJ

                                Allude: Verb
                                1.Suggest or call attention to indirectly; hint at.
                                2.Mention without discussing at length.

                                I didn't discuss smoked cheese at length...yet, I was hoping for more than a spelling lesson when posting the OP.

                                1. re: HillJ

                                  First, I've had someone smoke Robusto for me (sort of a parm/gouda cross by UnieKaas), and it's excellent. A nice Parm Reg also lends itself to smoking.

                                  e·lude: Verb
                                  1. Evade or escape from (a danger, enemy, or pursuer), typically in a skillful or cunning way: "he managed to elude his pursuer".
                                  2. (of an idea or fact) Fail to be grasped or remembered by (someone).

                                  I'm not a grammarian, but in the context you used it, "eludes" sounds like the correct word to me -- as in #2, you're failing to grasp the idea. That's what you meant, right? You might "allude" indirectly to your interest in smoked cheeses, or mention them briefly, but smoked cheeses would never "allude" you. I wouldn't have said anything, but it seems like you're just digging in here.

                                2. re: HillJ

                                  So much better, thanks. So I'm the sort of person who, as a child, had cheese so rarely (it will make you fat! It's too expensive for one such as you) that any cheese, smoked or otherwise, is a grand treat. So I've never really had "bad" cheese, unwanted mold notwithstanding. I'm fond of smoked goudas of any stripe. Van Kass is a good brand, and I've discovered that microwaving the rinds rind-side-down on parchment paper until they go slightly past bubbly turns them into pork rind type things. It also dissipates much of the smoke flavor, so if the oversmoked cheese you've had was a gouda, then that might be a good plan for you.

                                  1. re: bumblecat

                                    Good, although I wouldn't want you or Steve to waste time on crazy spelling fogs...much more interesting to focus on delicious cheese!

                                    Next time I'm @ the Cheese Cave I'll ask about some of your recommendations. So far I haven't found a smoked cheese I like.

                                    1. re: HillJ

                                      So what is this..."Cheese Cave" of which you speak? It sounds delightful.

                                      1. re: bumblecat

                                        One of the cheese shops I purchase cheese from in NJ. It is delightful and educational!

                              2. I spotted a Ford Farms Seaside smoked cheddar tonight. Anyone have any experiences?