One of the foods that amaze me is cheese. There’s something in it that is irresistible to me especially when it’s smothered on the dish. Apart from its aroma, cheese doubles up the flavor of my favorite dishes. With holes in the cheese, my imagination struggles to keep it away from the wrath of the mice. Choosing the right cheese to complement the dish may seem daunting. But learning a few tricks and tips would help to get a powerful blend without compromising the taste, flavor and texture of the dish. Let’s get to know some popular cheeses that we often hear about or have actually savored but not knowing what it is made of or what type of cheese it is. Be a good cheesemonger and start your cheesy experiments.
How To Buy Cheese
With so many brands and types of cheese in the market, it can be overwhelming and you end up buying the wrong cheese.
1. Buy cheese from credible shops near you. Look for the right person to ask about the type of cheese you would need for your dish. A knowledgeable person is someone who can guide you and one who can give you a tour of the cheeses available in the shop. Ask anything that you would need to know and make sure that you are satisfied with the answers.
2. Try a variety of cheeses and choose the one that best suits your taste. Cheeses are of different types, textures, uses, flavors and sources. You should allow your palate to experiment and get educated about cheeses so that the next time you would buy your cheese, you know exactly what you want and what’s good for the dish.
3. Know the characteristics of each type of cheese. This means that you learn the basic sources of the cheese such as goat, cow and sheep. The milks of these three animals are the most popular sources of cheese. Each has its own characteristic and the dish to go with the particular cheese. Your preference will prevail based on the taste and texture that appeal most to you. The goat’s cheese has a tangy taste while the cow’s has a rich butter taste. The sheep’s cheese, on the other hand, has some subtle nutty flavor to it.
4. It is also important that you get to know the texture of the cheese that’s perfect for you. Cheeses range from semi-soft to soft to hard. It would be good to try out the different textures. Cheeses do have the tendency to change their textures as they age. It is best to pick the texture that’s best for your taste and dish.
Popular Types of Cheeses
The world of cheeses has its brand of popularity. Food and wine pairing with cheese is one of the bases for its popularity besides the nutritional value.
Asiago Cheese. Also known as mountain cheese, first created in the northeastern part of Italy known as Asiago High Plateau. Asiago cheese is healthy because it is highly nutritious and a rich source of proteins, vitamins and minerals. It comes from whole cow’s milk and of two types namely Fresh Asiago (Pressato) and Mature Asiago (Asiago d’Allevo). The Pressato has a milder flavor and softer texture while the Asiago d’Allevo comes with a sharper taste and firm, grainy texture.
Feta Cheese. Originated and exclusively from Greece. Feta cheese comes from a mixture of sheep and goat milk or goat milk alone, although recently, cow’s milk has been added into the source of this cheese. Feta is an aromatic cheese with a little sourness but overall it has a delightful taste. It is more of a soft cheese due to its moisture content that makes it a little sweet with a bit of saltiness. For spicier and saltier Feta, the semi-hard is your best bet, which has more pronounced aroma and flavor. The classic Greek salad cannot be without the Feta cheese, tangy, aromatic and delightful flavor. Pastries and gratins are best with Feta.
Blue Cheese. The world’s best cheese. The blue mold best characterizes the Blue cheese which are actually the mold spores created by the penicillium glaucum (a mold used in making blue cheeses). Blue cheese comes from milk of either cow or goat. The more aged it is, the more molds develop. And this provides the distinctive flavor and texture of blue cheese. There are several types of blue cheeses: Gorgonzola, Stilton, Roquefort, Cabrales, Danablu and Benedictine Bleu. Generally, blue cheese has a distinctive tangy taste and a strong aroma.
Cream Cheese. This one is not aged, unlike the other types of cheeses. It was first produced in New York in the year 1872. Cream cheese has a light tangy flavor with a little sweetness, soft and spreadable. Its texture is rich and creamy, with choices of either low-fat and non-fat. Because of its freshness, cream cheese is most often used and incorporated with herbs and spices or toppings for fruits, salads, and chocolates, too. Some of the popular cream cheeses are curd cheese, ricotta, Neufchatel, cottage cheese and mascarpone.
Cheddar Cheese. An English cheese, it is a firm cheese that comes from cow’s milk. It has a variety of tastes, ranging from mild to sharp. Cheddar cheese is probably the most popular of all that it is manufactured easily around the world. The aging process of a cheddar cheese determines the taste and aroma of the cheese. Cheddar is the only cheese that is fermented with bacteria. This type of cheese has the most distinct texture and flavor of all cheese due to the fermentation and process it goes through before the cheese comes out. Because of its high popularity, there are several types of cheddar cheese in the market based on the aging duration, from mild to vintage; from flavored to flavored processed; low-fat cheddar known as Steppen; Cheshire, and Cotto, to name a few.
In the food and wine market and the cooking world, cheeses are significant accompaniments to make the dish blast or the palate explode with cheesy goodness. Can you just imagine a pizza pie without the melted cheese on top of it?