HOME > Chowhound > Cheese >
Are you making a specialty food? Get great advice

Discovering new cheeses--how do YOU do it?

nofunlatte Jun 28, 2013 08:00 AM

While I sometimes buy/try a cheese based on something I've read (cheese book, magazine, Chowhound), I also will buy a cheese I've never heard of (or from a producer I've never heard of), try it, and THEN learn about it. Granted, it's not the most efficient way of finding new cheese, but it can be fun. Of course, I'm talking about buying pieces, not 80-lb wheels. Still, I love making these serendipitous (to me) discoveries!

How do you discover new cheeses?

  1. j
    jlhinwa Jul 28, 2013 11:25 PM

    Here are a few ways I try out new cheeses when shopping without making a huge $$ commitment on something unknown:

    1) the grocery store I regularly shop at marks down by 50% specialty cheeses and other packaged deli items getting close to a pull date. That is my first stop every time I stop by and I have discovered some new cheese loves that way.

    2) Trader Joe's has great cheese prices and features a cheese (or more?) each month. If what is described sounds interesting, I will buy it.

    3) We have a small local chain of grocery stores called Metropolitan Market. They are similar to Whole Foods, but not as extensive in items offered. Their cheese department is awesome and they sell small bits of cheese..probably ends or something. Usually just a couple of ounces so even expensive cheeses are affordable to try.

    3 Replies
    1. re: jlhinwa
      grayelf Jul 29, 2013 09:44 AM

      I like your 1), jlhinwa! We have a similar option in one of our better cheese stores but I only use it when I know I like a cheese, since they will give samples of pretty much everything.

      1. re: grayelf
        jlhinwa Jul 29, 2013 05:40 PM

        It's a great way to try things out, that's for sure. Met Market and Whole Foods are also great about letting me try before I buy, but the closest of those options is about 12 miles away and not on my way to anyplace I typically go. And unless that I a planning on a decent cheese purchase, I hate to do a lot of sampling. I will,if there are samples already cut and out but don't like to make a special request unless I am on a buying mission.

        1. re: jlhinwa
          grayelf Jul 30, 2013 03:18 PM

          The occasion of entering a place of business that contains a wide selection of cheeses immediately puts me on a buying mission : -).

    2. t
      tlackner Jul 19, 2013 12:39 PM

      Instead of dessert, I get the cheese plate, then ask about cheeses I like. Admittedly, this usually works better in France or the UK/Ireland, but it's also been successful in Quebec, Vermont, Oregon ... And, like everyone else, I'll sample cheese wherever I can.

      1. t
        themamacurd Jul 9, 2013 01:15 PM

        I'm a lucky one...I've been a cheesemonger for nearly eleven years. (Don't get me wrong, it's fun...but I've been doing it so long I've seen just about everything there is to see) So all I have to do is wait for my vendors to let me know when there is something new!
        Last week I went to our holiday show and saw some new stuff I've never seen before: Honeybee Goat Gouda, Sartori brand (from Wisconsin) with PEPPERMINT (it was vile!!!!) and a Wensleydale with fruit and liquor in it (can't remember what fruit or what liquor)..but yes, those are the new ones I've seen

        8 Replies
        1. re: themamacurd
          Delucacheesemonger Jul 19, 2013 01:12 PM

          The crappy Wensleydale has cranberries. To make it worse, they use crappy Wensleydale to make it. l suspect Wallace would avoid this one. l always put the fruited Stiltons and Irish cheddar with porter in the same category.

          1. re: themamacurd
            nofunlatte Jul 23, 2013 05:48 AM

            Peppermint cheese sounds revolting.

            1. re: themamacurd
              kattyeyes Jul 29, 2013 05:46 PM

              That Sartori brand is outrageous. I happened upon a new cheese this past Saturday. The entire wedge is gone. I only had a little help, I made a complete cow of myself. Just delicious!

              And you are a lucky one! :)

              1. re: kattyeyes
                fldhkybnva Jul 30, 2013 10:08 AM

                I love the Sartori Sarvecchio Parmesan!

                1. re: fldhkybnva
                  kattyeyes Jul 30, 2013 11:01 AM

                  I'll look for it! :)

                  1. re: fldhkybnva
                    kattyeyes Sep 3, 2013 04:55 AM

                    Also try Sartori's Rum Runner! Mmmmm!

                    1. re: kattyeyes
                      fldhkybnva Sep 3, 2013 10:27 AM

                      I've seen it, I think I gave it a whiff but it seemed supper sweet. I should give it a proper try.

                      1. re: fldhkybnva
                        kattyeyes Sep 3, 2013 02:39 PM

                        Well, I eat it with truffle honey, so you might be asking the wrong person, but my friends and I really enjoy it. :)

              2. s
                sueatmo Jul 1, 2013 10:45 AM

                I've also bought good cheese at Costco. They might have a buy on certain sorts for a short time. You buy a couple of times, and then the cheese is no longer offered.

                1. The Professor Jun 30, 2013 08:29 PM

                  Other than samples offered at cheese shops or the small sample sized pieces I often see for sale at Whole Foods (particularly convenient for trying out expensive rarities), I'll generally just jump in with both feet and "blind buy" a wedge of interesting looking cheese that I know nothing about.

                  Since I often eat _very_ pungent/ripened cheeses, I've never gotten one that I couldn't eat. Some I enjoy more than others, but never bought a wedge I couldn't finish.

                  1. m
                    masha Jun 30, 2013 07:39 PM

                    Ordering cheese plates at good restaurants, whether at home or when traveling -- it forces me to get out of my comfort zone and try something other than an old favorite.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: masha
                      nofunlatte Jul 3, 2013 04:58 PM

                      That's a good idea, masha.

                    2. f
                      foodieX2 Jun 30, 2013 10:32 AM

                      I have gotten to know the cheese guys at my local WF, I frequent a local cheese shop and I hang out with cheese heads.

                      1. f
                        ferventfoodie Jun 29, 2013 01:35 PM

                        Local cheesemakers often have booths at farmers' markets
                        this time of year and are generous with tastings. As other
                        posters have mentioned, sampling at good cheese shops
                        and counters in some stores is one of the best ways to try
                        new products. Our local Wegmans offers cheese classes
                        for $5 - lots of cheese and accompaniments and a $5
                        gift certificate. They also use some of their ends to put
                        together small trays with several slices/pieces of three
                        cheeses and some nuts, dried fruits, etc. which they sell for
                        $7. I look for selections I haven't tried and like this option
                        because you can bring the cheese to room temp at home
                        rather than tasting it right out of the refrigerated case.

                        1. w
                          wyogal Jun 29, 2013 07:57 AM

                          I go to the best cheese counter in town and taste.

                          1. i
                            INDIANRIVERFL Jun 29, 2013 07:53 AM

                            Travel to France. Point at anything in the case. Keep a diary. Worked for me.

                            Go to Wisconsin. Travel on county roads and stop at creameries. Ask if they have any specialties. At least one pleasant surprise every trip when I visit family.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: INDIANRIVERFL
                              Ruth Lafler Jun 29, 2013 11:00 AM

                              Last time I bought cheese in France the cheesemonger almost refused to sell it to me. It was a calvados-washed camembert -- VERY stinky. And VERY delicious.

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                INDIANRIVERFL Jun 30, 2013 10:19 AM

                                You had to mention calvados.

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                  biondanonima Jul 3, 2013 01:20 PM

                                  I bought some of this in a cheese shop in Vienna - the guy warned me not to eat it on the train, and my husband refused to get near me after I ate it. It was one of my best cheese buys ever!!!!!!!

                                  1. re: biondanonima
                                    Delucacheesemonger Jul 3, 2013 01:29 PM

                                    When l was cheesemongering always told people the basic rules for total agreement in a relationship were money, sex, and cheese.

                              2. chefj Jun 28, 2013 08:48 PM

                                Almost all good Cheese Mongers will give tastes.
                                You need to go to a Cheese shop

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: chefj
                                  grayelf Jun 29, 2013 07:42 AM

                                  Have to agree on chefj's advice, recognizing not everyone has easy access to a good cheese shop in their vicinity. I regularly chat with the folks behind the counter at my local cheesemongers to see what is interesting (and what is in the best shape, which is very important).

                                  1. re: chefj
                                    nofunlatte Jun 30, 2013 12:38 PM

                                    I'm not asking how *I* should discover new cheeses, just how others do it. Not everyone has a cheese shop at the ready, including me. It would be nice, but I have a great job and a 10-minute commute, so I'm not moving anytime soon (even though I'd love a real cheese shop close by). I have asked at places like Whole Foods, though.

                                    1. re: nofunlatte
                                      chefj Jun 30, 2013 04:12 PM

                                      That is how I find new Cheeses.
                                      think you should move right away regardless of a job you love, a great commute, a loving family. ...... to be near a good Cheese Shop

                                      1. re: chefj
                                        nofunlatte Jul 3, 2013 04:58 PM

                                        Time to start investing in PowerBall tickets!

                                        BTW, I went to visit a local cheesemaker (Jacobs and Brichford) after discovering their cheeses at Jungle Jim's in Cincy. Matthew Brichford, the cheesemaker, spent over an hour giving a tour to my parents and me (they were visiting for a few days)--what a generous use of his time for just the three of us! Discovered that I liked his other two cheeses (Brianna and my new favorite, Everton, an alpine/mountain style). Naturally we left with quite a bit of cheese (paid for, not stolen :)

                                        1. re: nofunlatte
                                          chefj Jul 4, 2013 03:19 PM

                                          Most cheese makers know a lot about other Cheeses as well. He may be a good source for new Cheese buying inspiration.

                                          1. re: chefj
                                            nofunlatte Jul 4, 2013 06:12 PM

                                            He gave me one recommendation--Beaufort. I'll have to get that after I finish eating what I bought from him!

                                            1. re: nofunlatte
                                              Delucacheesemonger Jul 5, 2013 04:55 AM

                                              There are many Beauforts, make sure you get the Beaufort des Alpages. It is cheese from the milk of cows grazing on grass not barn hay from the winter.
                                              The difference can be amazing.

                                              1. re: Delucacheesemonger
                                                nofunlatte Jul 5, 2013 08:40 AM

                                                Thanks for the tip--I'll remember this when I go searching for Beaufort.

                                  2. fldhkybnva Jun 28, 2013 03:15 PM

                                    I shop at Whole Foods usually for cheese which is always willing to offer samples and recommendations.

                                    1. HillJ Jun 28, 2013 12:24 PM

                                      At parties I'll ask the host. At farms, cheese shops, grocery markets and specialty foods stores I ask the owner and/or Mgr. if samples are offered, I read a great deal online (haven't bought a book yet) and buy small pieces when I'm curious enough to try it but sampling isn't possible. I go to cheese tastings in NJ & NY when I can. I go in on larger cheese buys with my cheese-loving friends and split the cost. But the discovery IS my favorite part! And sometimes the smell of the cheese alone is enough for me to take a chance.

                                      1. s
                                        sueatmo Jun 28, 2013 11:50 AM

                                        I poke around the bits of cheese in the basket of end pieces at WF. Or sometimes I buy a new cheese to try. But I don't generally buy "gourmet" cheeses.

                                        My latest discovery is a Cabot which name I cannot retrieve, but the pkg. description is right on. It tastes similar to Parm, but is somewhat creamy. To me it tastes almost buttery. In short it is delicious.

                                        In general I like Cabot cheese, so I bought it.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: sueatmo
                                          sueatmo Jun 29, 2013 02:03 PM

                                          Cabot's Catamount Hills cheese. Wonderful.

                                          1. re: sueatmo
                                            fldhkybnva Sep 3, 2013 04:34 AM

                                            I do this all the time and actually found Catamount Hills Cheese this way, it's great. It's a perfect way to try cheeses with lower cost.

                                          Show Hidden Posts