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Discovering new cheeses--how do YOU do it?

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?

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  1. 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

      Cabot's Catamount Hills cheese. Wonderful.

      1. re: sueatmo

        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.

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

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

            8 Replies
            1. re: chefj

              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

                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

                  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

                    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

                      Great!
                      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

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

                        1. re: nofunlatte

                          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

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

              2. 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

                  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

                      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

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