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In need of cheese 101

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Was at an awesome farmers market in Boston today and I need to step away from Cabot into the world of finely made cheese. I am not sure if I am just cheap or comfortable with 6 dollar blocks of cheese. What's good out there?

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  1. There are too many good cheeses "out there" that somebody likes to list here without some clue as to what kinds you like. Soft, hard, blue, goat, cheddar?

    One possibility is for you to search this board for "Cheese of the Month". The discussions about each particular cheese will give you some clue as to whether you might like them or not.

    If you are near a cheese specialty shop, tell the proprietor what you have tried so far and he can give you some suggestions for further exploration.

    5 Replies
    1. re: DonShirer

      Great advice! I guess I don't know a lot about cheese so picking up a book and talking with the local cheese shops would be great. I have always enjoyed soft and creamy cheeses like havarti and Brie as well as tangy and sharp cheeses like cheddar and Parmesan. I feel like when I go to the gourmet shops they have all these cheeses I have never heard of.

      1. re: Milcdud

        OK, I am going to take a chance and suggest you try (in the Brie-like cheeses) Lille Coulommiers (Vermont Farmstead), St. Andre or St. Simeon (France), and Seal Bay (Australia).

        If you like Cheddar and Parm, you may also like Fiore di Sardo (or Pecorino Sardo-Italy), 3-yr aged Gouda (Holland), or Ewephoria (if only for the name! - a sheep cheese from Holland).

        The prices on these will be higher than grocery store cheese. Don't worry if none of these appeal to you - there are lots more out there that may! Have fun exploring.

        1. re: Milcdud

          When you got to a Cheese Shop you can TASTE all those Cheeses you never heard of!
          Go to the Cheese Monger they are like Heroin Dealers, the Tastes are free till they get you Hooked. (- :

          1. re: Milcdud

            A "classic" cheese guide worth picking up is Steven Jenkins' "Cheese Primer" which is easily available in paperback. The major limitation of the book is that it is a bit dated, so is not up-to-date on the recent rise in American artisinal cheeses and changes in regulations; it is focused on France/Italy/rest of Europe. It is a great resource for these cheeses, but you have to realize that you will not necessarily find the "authentic" versions of the European cheeses it talks about in the U.S..

            I also like "Mastering Cheese" by Max McCalman, which is a bit more up-to-date. I am not aware of any really comprehensive guides to the best U.S. cheeses, though someone else might have suggestions.

            While obviously the only real way to really learn is through interaction with your cheese vendor, these guides provide useful starting points and strategies.

            1. re: Milcdud

              Artisan cheesemakers at farmers' markets should let you sample, as well as good cheese shops. Also, don't be afraid to ask your cheese shop to sell you a small quantity (i.e. 1/4 pound).

          2. And don't poo poo Cabot. Try their clothewrapped aged cheddar. Then, if you love cheddar, try a Montgomery cheddar as a comparator. If you are in Boston you are lucky: go to Formaggio's and taste to your heart's content. The cheese is expensive, but remember you don't need pounds of it. Ounces will do.

            1. I agree with the suggestions of finding a cheese shop that allows you to taste the cheeses. I suggest that when you taste cheese really focus and take in the flavors and textures. Many cheeses have complex layers of unusual flavors and textures that can overwhelm taste buds not used to them. Try to give unusual flavors a chance before rejecting them. Also many stinky cheeses don't taste stinky. When you taste a cheese what does it remind you of? Grass? Hay? Butter? Earth? mushrooms? Meat? Velvet?

              I agree with Don's suggestion of Euphoria, it's a very easy to like cheese. Also St. Agur blue cheese. If you really want to dive in try some washed rind cheese like Eppoisse. It' can be like liquid velvet buttery umami deliciousness. Don't be scared of by the pungent aroma.