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Jan 1, 2014 12:47 AM

Which Soft(er) Cheeses would you recommend to a Hard/Sharp Cheese fan?

I primarily like the Harder, Sharper, Aged Cheeses in my past year's relatively new exploration. Considering that, I'm also still willing to start trying some Soft(er) Cheeses, ya see? I prefer a somewhat Salty taste similar to how Cheddar tastes, so that would be a good place to start. A recent favorite of mine is Norwegian Jarlsberg too, so hopefully you'd know of something similar to that just as well.

No offense to the majority of Italians, but I believe that the Italians more often than not make an inferior Cheese over many other regions. Romano, Asiago & a few others that I've tried just won't cut it & many of them bring a real bad taste to my mouth whether cooked or at room temperature, ya know? To each his own though. My favorites just might be someone's least favorites and so on.

What are the Cheeses that you'd recommend me, no pun intended, dipping into? I'd like to hear about all of your experiences with them whether you still enjoy that Cheese or if it was just a one time thing or an extremely rare, long distance sample. Thanks for those of you who take the time to help me out discovering something new & hopefully enjoyable. What've you got?

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  1. I love strong cheeses and you'll have to experiment to see what matches your palate. My current favorites are two great American cheeses: Twig Farm washed rind and Jasper Hill's Harbison. My all time favorite soft cheese is a good Epoisses but I find much of what's sold here is underripe and will require patience. Try small amounts, don't be afraid to try them ripe and runny (underripe soft cheeses are chalky and, to my mind, generally worthlessly bland).

    1. Taleggio is a wonderful soft Italian ripened cheese. Consider a triple cream like St. Andre, and if you like blues, St. Agur is a wonderful soft one.(those are French) Danish Havarti is soft and flavorful, good for melting. My go-to cheese market in Sarasota has over 200 cheeses, probably half of them are soft.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Veggo

        My SO would agree with you, SUYR! Given your proclivities, I'd actually pass on most triple creams -- I suspect you will find them too "wimpy" and not be crazy about the texture. They're also less forgiving in terms of finding one that is perfectly ripe and the chalky centre that results from getting an underripe one tastes really different than the good stuff and can be offputting. Chateau de bougogne might be worth a shot for you if you can find a wedge in good shape; though delicate, it has quite a nice salty hit. Delice de Bourgogne is also available and can be confused with Chateau.

        Oh and don't be tempted by small, whole surface ripened cheeses at first. Buy ones in wedges that you can see and feel the cut so that you get used to what level of ripeness works for you.

        If you want to venture into double cream land, see if you can find gres champenois, a brie from France. As advertised, it is lusciously salty and deeply savoury, with a whisper-soft creamline around the inner core. Highly recommended.

        Look for a French raw milk camembert to try, which should give some body to the paste, stronger flavour and a bit of saltiness.

        If you are interested in trying a softer washed rind cheese, I like Veggo's suggestion of Tallegio, especially if you want to give Italy a chance :-). It has quite a pong as you might expect but is relatively mild. Also fairly easy to get a hold of, I'd guess.

        Domestic soft cheeses tend to be less interesting to me than the ones that come from the "original source" at least as far as Canada goes eg. pasteurized Cdn brie tends to be a bit boring and doesn't ripen up as nicely as its French antecedents (all bets are off with lait cru bries from Quebec if you can get your mitts on one. Drool.) I don't know US cheeses well enough to generalize but I guess I'd suggest going to the source first :-).

        1. re: grayelf

          I've definitely heard of Camembert quite a bit & would like to try that as well.

        2. re: Veggo

          I've heard of Havarti & I think I would like to try that in the near future.

          1. re: ShowUsYourRack

            It may be sacrilege to suggest a flavored cheese but i really like a dill havarti for snacking on as is

            1. re: Ttrockwood

              I normally (at least so far) like to stick with "naturals."

        3. Try an Italian provolone dolce before ruling out Italian cheese. This is a semi-hard cheese aged just a few months. Domestic provolone from the supermarket is a poor imitation.

          1 Reply
          1. re: GH1618

            I'll look into it if I can find some.

          2. If you want to step down from firm to semi-firm cheeses, many Holland Gouda's are quite good, even when young.

            Chaource is creamier than Camenbert but expensive.

            If you want to try Brie-like cheeses, Lille Coulommiers, St. Andre, St. Simeon, Coach Triple Creme, Brillat Savarin and some Fromager d'Affinois are way superior to grocery store brie.

            I also find the grocery varieties of Havarti rather bland, but you may be able to find an authentic brand in a cheese shop.

            If you like truffles, you might try Moliterno al Tartufo from Sardinia as a semi-soft dessert cheese (even though it is Italian!).

            3 Replies
            1. re: DonShirer

              I've kind of been turned off by (the thought of trying) Brie so far, yet I'm still curious & willing to try some if it was of quality. You don't believe that ANY Grocery Stores would/could offer a decent type of Brie? What brands have you tried in your nearby Grocery Stores so far & why do you think that they were so bad?

              1. re: ShowUsYourRack

                President brand brie is tasteless supermarket crap. Good, well ripened brie is wonderful.

                1. re: Veggo

                  But good, well ripened brie can be off-putting to people who don't enjoy the stronger flavors that come with ripening. I'm going to go against the pack here and say that I think underripe, bland soft cheeses (like President brand brie) are a great place for someone who isn't sure they'll like Brie to start just because they are so mild.

                  St. Andre or a similar tripe creme cheese is a good place to start as well, because they are so mild, almost to the point where they taste like cultured butter.

                  Even though these cheeses are mild when firm, there's enough of a hint of the taste that you'd get with a more ripe cheese for you to tell if that's a flavor you want to pursue, or you just don't like.

                  One point I don't see mentioned here is if you are just trying to find your way towards soft cheeses, skip the rind. Don't get me wrong, I love the rind myself, but the texture and flavor of the rind take some getting used to. Focus on the buttery inside and once you find yourself liking those flavors, try a piece with a bit of rind and see if that's to your liking.

            2. Have you tried a really good Gorgonzola? It's from Italy (at least the ones I usually get, although Belgioso is good in a pinch) but still. We like the dulce (creamy) version over the regular crumbly/piccante, but both pack lots of flavor.

              What other Italians have you tried? Only what's on sale maybe? Because gee, they can be far from inferior; the DOC versions of everything I've tried that are sheep or anything other than cow are truly outstanding. Unless maybe too strong for some?