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Favorite cheeses at TJs?

Dare I start anotherrrr thread on Trader Joe's...I know there is a general thread on Yays and Nays but I think the specific threads like the one on salad dressings are particularly useful. I am a cheese fanatic as expressed all over Chow and would be thrilled if I could buy some of my cheese there and save a few $ but I've read hit or miss reviews. What are your favorite cheeses at TJs? In particular I've had my eye on the cheddar with caramelized onions as I tried a similar cheese from Yancey but it's quite overwhelmingly onion dippy rather than a pure caramelized onion flavor, but interested to hear any favorites. I'm always willing to try a new cheese.

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  1. My family loves the "unexpected cheddar" which is a very flavorful somewhat crumbly cheddar/parmesan mix. The chevre is always a great value.

    9 Replies
    1. re: milklady

      I don't think I've ever spotted the unexpected cheddar, but I'll be on the lookout now. I am wondering about the pesto gouda, also seems interesting.

      1. re: fldhkybnva

        Sometime this past winter, they were sampling the pesto Gouda and it was a nostalgic flavor but I couldn't quite place it. Then I overheard a child exclaim it tasted like hot dogs while begging mom for another sample and I realized he was right.

        1. re: ohmyyum

          Oh wow, that's hilarious! Not sure I want a cheese that tastes like hot dogs. I wonder if that batch had spent some time next in a separate part of the fridge case...

      2. re: milklady

        The unexpected cheddar is delicious grated and used to replace some or all of the parm in any recipe that calls for it. It's also yummy on tacos, believe it or not.

        1. re: Isolda

          I've read that some think this is the same as Kerrygold Dubliner which they also sell so that'd be interesting.

          1. re: Isolda

            Isolda they also have a lovely shaved cheese blend in a tub that contains the unexpected cheddar, toscano, and an aged Parmesan!

            1. re: ohmyyum

              Do you find it's more of a Parmesan than a Cheddar flavor? All I seem to taste is Parmesan in this one not that that's bad.

              1. re: fldhkybnva

                Hmm in the unexpected cheddar or the blend?

                1. re: ohmyyum

                  Unexpected cheddar. I'll have to look for the blend, that sounds great.

        2. I like TJ's Cave Aged Blue Cheese and the St. Andre, which is similar to brie.

          1. I don't recall the brand, but the blocks of Israeli sheep's milk feta is creamy salty flavorful goodness.

            Otherwise, I usually don't stray far from my favorites that are available nearly everywhere else (cambozola, St. Andre, aged gouda), even though I always intend to try new stuff. The aged havarti I tried awhile ago was good, but not craveable enough to make a regular rotation (admittedly, I was mostly snacking on it cubed - I think it would probably make a tasty grilled ham and cheese). I currently have the cheddar/gruyere melange in my fridge, but haven't opened it yet.

            1 Reply
            1. re: amishangst

              Amen about the Israeli sheep's milk feta. Wonderful stuff, not too tangy.

            2. I'm very bad about remembering cheese names, but they have a cheddar with dried apricots that is delicious. And, not sure if this is available everywhere, but they often carry that "frying" cheese. Heated and cut into strips, it's like eating mozzarella sticks without the breading. Yum!

              6 Replies
              1. re: Violatp

                It's Stilton with apricots.

                The 'frying cheese' is Halloumi and can be found in many cheese cases under different brands. TJs is still sells the least expensive version. It's a nice treat or salad topping...

                1. re: Cathy

                  Thanks! I thought Stilton was a blue cheese? I mean, I definitely don't remember the name, but it was a white, veinless cheese. It's why I thought cheddar

                  I also know that my packages of frying cheese weren't called haloumi, though of course I assumed it was and it certainly looked like it. But they just called it frying cheese.

                  1. re: Violatp

                    Oh, they have this at Whole Foods as well it's a White Stilton-you're not crazy!

                    1. re: Violatp

                      Huntsman cheese is a very pretty cheese that is a layering of an orange double Gloucester and blue Stilton. Maybe that's what you were thinking about Stilton. I've never seen a 'plain' white Stilton; it's always embedded with a fruit: apricots or blueberries or lemon peel.

                      Halloumi is a frying cheese; maybe there is some legal definition of Halloumi that they can't use it (like where the sheep and goats milk originates). Kasseri is a frying cheese also made of sheep and goat milk and doesn't have the mint that Halloumi does...again, maybe some origination issues to use a proper name.

                      1. re: Cathy

                        I meant white Stilton with ginger not just itself :)

                2. I just bought a Brie yesterday that had chanterelles and some other exotic mushroom in it, lots of it. I wouldn't buy it regularly but it was nice for a change. I usually go for the harder cheese that has truffles; although you don't see too many shavings it has an intense flavor.

                  Was tempted to pick up the package of three cheddars: Irish, Scottish and Welsh, thought it would be good for the holidays. Maybe next time.

                  1. I love their 1000-day Gouda. I make a TJ's trip once every couple of months (an hour drive) and am going Saturday. The Unexpected Cheddar is on my list. P.S. Love your avatar. He's getting big!

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: KrumTx

                      Is the gouda pretty sharp? I really like gouda but sometimes is a bit much but perhaps I'll try it.

                      Thanks, apparently not too big to still relax in dustpans. He loves to sit there wheb I cook.

                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                        Relax in dustpans - lol! Yes, it's sharp, but I love all things Gouda and I don't want to steer you the wrong way.

                        1. re: KrumTx

                          My favorites for regular use are the Uniekaas Meadowkaas and Robusto. I have had the reserve 5 year aged but that's a definite snacking cheese for me as it's so crumbly and caramely that a small bit satisfies.

                        2. re: fldhkybnva

                          The 1000-day gouda is very flavorful, but there is not a strong bite to it. It is warm, mellow, a little crumbly. Love the stuff.

                        3. re: KrumTx

                          The Unexpected Cheddar is fantastic, as is the Goat Milk Cheddar. They're both like "cheese candy" although I like the goat a bit more. And I'm thrilled to see they're carrying something from the Melkbus line (thanks, Bigwoodenspoon!). I bought Melkbus 58 (it's a baby Swiss) from Fairway and am eager to explore more of this line. :)

                        4. TJ's seems to have a consistent supply of Delice de Bourgogne at a nice price. Last time I was there, I bought a triple cream called Saint Angel. Liked them both.

                          19 Replies
                          1. re: HillJ

                            Ooh I've never had a triple creme cheese. I imagine that'd be great spread on eggs.

                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                I thought the Délice lent itself better to fruit and crackers better than eggs. It was amazing with some strawberries dragged across it!

                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                  If you've never had a triple creme, see if anyplace where you live carries Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam. It's spoiled me for any other that I've had so far.

                                  Chicago is 2000 miles away from the creamery, but there are some Whole Foods that sometimes get it, so maybe you'll have some luck where you are.

                                  1. re: Violatp

                                    Mt. Tam is probably one of my top 5 fav triple creams but I haven't seen it sold at TJ's; only Whole Foods.

                                    1. re: HillJ

                                      I think I've spotted it at Whole Foods...hmmm, another cheese added to this week's list. I really should cut back :)

                                      1. re: HillJ

                                        Yeah, sadly, never at TJ's. I just wanted to mention it since she's never had any triple cremes!

                                        I spotted a half wheel a few months ago. Ate it in one afternoon. So good.

                                        1. re: Violatp

                                          Hmm, now I'm torn. I guess I have to buy some kind of triple creme cheese this weekend.

                                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                                            Triple creams are rich. So take your time :) If you have ShopRite in your area they also stock quality triple creams too.

                                            1. re: HillJ

                                              OR, as I did, buy a lovely baguette at the same time as you purchase your half wheel, and go to town over the course of about 4-5 hours, swearing with each portion that it will be your last and cursing that you didn't also pick up a bottle of wine.

                                              1. re: Violatp

                                                LOL, V. You & I would get along beautifully!

                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                  It's the only way to roll, yo! :-D

                                    1. re: linguafood

                                      Nope it was St. Angel, here's a quick link from another seller so you can see it.
                                      http://www.gourmet-food.com/gourmet-c...

                                      1. re: HillJ

                                        Seems to be the TJ version of St. André then. Almost identical packaging and font.

                                          1. re: linguafood

                                            Here's the thread about St Angel on Chowhound's Cheese Board if you'd like to join the discussion,
                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/887121

                                          2. re: HillJ

                                            Nope. St. Angel is a different cheese from St. Andre.

                                            1. re: virtualguthrie

                                              Correct, that was confirmed in a diff part of the thread.

                                      2. TJs does have some truly great cheeses full of flavor, and while I recognize that, I must admit that my personal favorites are the low-fat cheeses sold sliced in packages. In particular, the low-fat Jarlsberg has a truly great nutty flavor and a crisp aftertaste since it has only about half the normal fat. This means that there is a corresponding increase in calcium and protein. Give these a try and you may find them as tasty as I do.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Tripeler

                                          I like that Jarlsberg and also the lite Havarti.

                                          1. re: Tripeler

                                            I rarely if ever eat low fat cheese, but maybe I'll give it a try.

                                          2. Their marinated mozzarella balls are amazing. And the oil is so seasoned you can use it for dipping.

                                            I wish I liked goat cheese because they seem to have tons of really cool ones. Some are covered in herbs and quite a few have fruit.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: bugablue13

                                              The new seasonal apple cinnamon goat cheese was awesome. The slight tang of goat cheese was a wonderful complement to the sweet and and spicy apple chunks coating the log.

                                              1. re: ohmyyum

                                                Sorry I missed that one (apple cinnamon). I bet I could recreate it though :)

                                              2. re: bugablue13

                                                My kids loved the apple cnnamon goat cheese too. I didn't get much!

                                              3. Those marinated mozzarella balls are addictive, and there's so much marinade left over that I buy another tub of plain ones and add it when the original ones are gone. A favorite snack in our house is to toast TJ's Tuscan Pane, then drizzle on some of the marinade from the mozzarella balls and top it with a few balls cut up into smaller pieces. Good for breakfast and lunch!

                                                1. They sell a Canadian cheddar that is very good. It has a ral nice sharp cheddar flavor. I also like the crumbled bleu cheese in the tubs.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: mike0989

                                                    Just had the new Melkbus Gouda last night, delicious!
                                                    Aged 9 months, its creamy with just a hint of the salty crunch that comes with older Gouda.

                                                    Don't miss the Basque Shepard's Cheese and Manchengo in the orange pkg. that's a year old. Both made with Sheep's milk, yum.

                                                    Remember everyone, when the Holidays come, the Seasonal Cheeses will be in the house. Enjoy!

                                                    Speaking of Triple Cream Brie, see if your local market (besides TJ's) carries Marin French Cheese Co. OMG!
                                                    (It's my favorite and has won awards in France)
                                                    Usually about $9.99 an 8 oz. round here in CA at Lucky's.
                                                    I think Costco may carry it as well, but only in 4 pks if I remember correctly.

                                                    Love me some cheese : )

                                                      1. re: BigWoodenSpoon

                                                        Oh Basque Ossau Iraty is my favorite! If that's the one then I'm in trouble as it can be pretty pricey.

                                                    1. The Huntsman cheese makes the best grilled cheese sandwich, especially with the Tuscan pane bread. It has layers of Stilton and Double Gloucester.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: RussTheRaccoon

                                                        I've always wondered about this one as well as the curious Stripey Jack http://www.elite-gourmet.com/gourmet-.... I'm not sure if it's at TJs but also an English cheese combination act.

                                                      2. Here are two to avoid: The mild cheddar and goat milk brie. The cheddar had no taste at all - none. The goat milk brie smelled like gasoline, so I chucked it. Stinky cheese is one thing, but this was something else.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                          Thanks! I really hate cheese with no flavor, probably more than I should but I just don't get the point.

                                                        2. The Parmesano Reggiano is VERY good. You just have to hunt through the pile to find one w little rind so your buying all cheese.

                                                          1. Well, cheddar with caramelized onions and St Andre it is, I'll be sure to report back when I get home and rip then open or maybe I'll take a hint from violatp and eat them on the way home

                                                            1. OK, this caramelized onion cheese is great! It's not as overhwhelming as other onion cheeses I've tried which I like. The St. Andre is an undecided in my book. I find it pretty mild, sort of how I feel about Mozzarella, just milky which is not bad. Actually I stopped by Whole Foods afterwards and mentioned to the cheesemonger my purchase and he was shocked I would gravitate towards such a cheese. He kindly supplemented my new soft rind cheese collection with a chunk of Jasper Hill's Harbison cheese which if you can find it is outstanding!

                                                              17 Replies
                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                Then it's (St Andre) not the same as St. Angel afterall (comment I had with linguafood upthread) because St. Angel is not mild. Having said that, it's not a robust cheese either. I love funky cheese, love spiced cheese and I adore triple creams but every now and then I look for something milder & blander on purpose just to sort of reset my cheese-buds for a bit.

                                                                Did you buy any triple creams?

                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                  http://www.courierpress.com/news/2013...

                                                                  This link compares and contrasts both St. Andre and St. Angel.

                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                    No triple creams today but I am creeping towards the family of softer cheeses it seems - I tasted the Harbison at Whole Foods which I bought and a very tasty Camembert at Wegmans. Thanks for the link. I'll be on the lookout for St. Angel.

                                                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                      Just to clarify, St. Andre is a triple cream.

                                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                        Yea, thanks. I mispoke. I definitely know that now after eating :)

                                                                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                          And at the time, I wondered if you had bought any other triple creams. TJ's had quite a few last time I was there.

                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                            That's how I interpreted your statement which is why I said no haha. I'm looking to try the old Chatham next week but that's not at TJs or at least I didn't see it. There was a double cream Brie that looked intriguing. I wish you could taste and have portions cut.

                                                                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                              TJ's will let you taste cheeses from wrapped pieces at the store I frequent but I've never seen them recut wrapped portions smaller.

                                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                                Oooh, good to know even the shrink wrapped ones?

                                                                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                  Earlier in the year, TJ's cheese dept opened four pkgs for me for tasting purposes; I bought two. When I asked what happens to the other two the guy said the staff eats it or they offer it to customers during the day.

                                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                                    Well, that makes sense. I wish had devoted a taste to the onion cheese.

                                                                    2. re: HillJ

                                                                      OK, once again I should learn to withhold judgement until my second taste. Since I have it, I figured I'd give the St. Andre another try and I actually really enjoyed it. I think I might even use it as the base for a sauce. I'm just wondering, some suggest leaving it out overnight to ripen. Is this covered or uncovered?

                                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                        I leave cheese out covered under a bowl or glass dome. I don't want it to dry out. Glad to hear you gave it a second go since you bought the brand.

                                                                        I just had a similar experience with dragon fruit. The first time, totally didn't get it-today loved it.

                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                          I'm like this with a lot of new things I try which is why I now always tell myself to give it another try. Now I'm trying to figure out what to do with it other than eat it. I thought it might pair nicely spread on roasted zucchini.

                                                                        2. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                          Fldhky, if it's a triple creme similar in flavor to Délice, please do try it with fresh fruit for dessert!

                                                                          1. re: ohmyyum

                                                                            Frozen grapes, a mango chutney, honey drizzle and berries, dried apricots and balsamic..what ever you think!

                                                                            I toast a bialy semi-dark and let a few slices of the St. Andre melt over top on their own then drizzle with a touch of honey and top with super thin lemon slices or cucumber slices.

                                                                            1. re: ohmyyum

                                                                              I think I'll smear it on some raspberries in the morning, but I just enjoyed it spread on pork tenderloin with zucchini butter. Wow, this cheese is quite tasty now that I've had a full experience. It's also not as expensive as the other triple cream cheeses I've seen which is nice.

                                                                      2. Manchego and Iberico are two of the nicest Spaniards I've ever met; Comté is the best for any kind of French bistro dish with cheese grated over; their Fontina is superb melted into polenta. All of these are also good just to eat at room temperature. I also love the New Zealand grass-fed Cheddar.

                                                                        The pre-sliced fresh mozzarella, basil and heirloom tomatoes made a guest who'd requested a Caprese salad very happy, and it was fun to make. Not really expensive, either.

                                                                        1. Greek feta in brine is always in my frig. The expiry date is really long, and the cheese is great!

                                                                          1. Aahhhh, what a friend we have in cheeses.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Tripeler

                                                                              Heh. You've been saving that line, haven't you?

                                                                              1. re: Steve Green

                                                                                No, I just recycled it, that's all.

                                                                            2. Dutch aged Gouda. Red rind Parado? logo is an oval with the name inside. Had it on a friend's boat. Went searching for it (and found it) at Fairways. Now delighted to see it at TJs. Enjoyed it last night with honey crisp apples.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: jwg

                                                                                Parrano is great, as is Robusto (its older brother), but I haven't seen either at our TJ recently. Old Amsterdam is an excellent Gouda (18-month, I believe) -- very butterscotchy with some crystals. The double-cream gouda is pretty good too, if you want something softer and younger.

                                                                                Another fan of Delice de Bourgogne -- price is better at Costco, but it's too big a chunk there. I have no business having a pound of that around. :o) Also, TJ has a great price on Societe Roquefort.

                                                                                1. re: Steve Green

                                                                                  I love Robusto, particularly the crunch crystals. It's one of few cheeses I eat by itself because I find I only need a small bit to feel satisfied.

                                                                              2. We have had the caramalized onion cheddar, it is fantastic. Our son brings it all the time along with a cheese that has apricot in it, that is even better. Enjoy, I wish we had a TJ's closer than 40 miles away.

                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Nanzi

                                                                                  I really liked this cheese and unlike my usual experience of trying something again and loving it more, on second taste I found it quite sweet for some reason. Perhaps my initial taste was at the edge of the wedge with less of an in your face sweet onion flavor. The middle of the wedge just made me think of candy :)

                                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                    That particular cheese seems less consistent that others. I used to prefer the version at Whole Foods; these days I like the TJ version better (much cheaper, too). For all I know, they could be different batches of the same cheese.

                                                                                    1. re: Steve Green

                                                                                      I see, now I feel less crazy. I'm done with it for now. I don't have much of a sweet tooth and this cheese overwhelms it quickly. If only the smallest wedge I could find hadn't been $7 :(

                                                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                        If you aren't going to enjoy it, they are serious about their "we tried it, we liked it" return policy. But you might give it a try as a grilled cheese sandwich with Dijon mustard on rye, pumpernickel, or a sourdough type bread.

                                                                                        Also, last week they sampled it in a brussels sprout sauté with applewood smoked bacon.

                                                                                        1. re: ohmyyum

                                                                                          It' interesting you mention bacon, For my first taste, I just jumped right in and added it to an omelet which included bacon and didn't jump off the page as too sweet but then again I added a smidge and it was a big omelet . Does anyone else feel odd returning something they just didn't like? It's a fabulous policy but just so unusual to me. If SO doesn't like it I think it'll go back perhaps.

                                                                                  1. My favorite is their rosemary asiago. A nice snack with a simple low salt triscuit.

                                                                                    I also much appreciate their much lower priced Kerrygold dubliner (vs. what I see elsewhere).

                                                                                    1. I just bought a cheese I've never seen anywhere last weekend at TJ's. It's a cheddar/Gouda brick cheese. It really captures both cheeses in one bite and it's on the strong side. Surprisingly my 2 year old daughter LOVED it. Of course the other 3, less adventurous kids, thought it "smelled like feet" and wouldn't touch it. More for me!