Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cheese Is The Best Thing EVER

A little breakfast plate! YUM
I love cheese. SO many people say this....but they are liars. They LIKE cheese. They don't really love it. Most people don't have the time and commitment it takes to really get to know and love cheese. Cheese does NOT come in an aerosol can.....EVER. If you like that crap...stop reading now. You just disappoint me.
Being a true cheese connoisseur is a badge of honor. I consider myself in only the beginning rankings of this prestigious title. Knowing the cheeses is only half the battle. One should also be aware of how to serve them and what pairings work best. Gorgonzola can be quite strong all by it's lonesome, but if you melt it into a cream sauce and serve it over pork chops with pan-seared's sublime. I like to keep no less than 5-6 varieties of cheese in my fridge at any given time. This affords me the opportunity to experiment when cooking!
  1. Petit Basque- French harder cheese made from sheep's milk with nutty undertones I like to slice thin and eat with a baguette.
  2. Ten Year Aged White Wisconsin Cheddar- It speaks for itself....AMAZING.
  3. Port Salut- A soft cheese that spreads easily (TWSS), it has a bit of a bite but works on almost any cracker or bread and never overpowers.
  4. Dutch Gouda- I found a great flavor of this at Better Cheddar that was made from goat milk and had a lovely honey finish to it. Don't bother with a smoked Gouda unless that smokey taste is all you want to come through.
  5. Brie- Soft cheese with an outer rind that can easily discourage new tasters. This cheese is pretty versatile though. It pairs well cold with fruit or baked (even fried!) served with a fruit compote on crackers or bread and you will be in love.
  6. Manchego- This is a great starter cheese if cheese tasting freaks you out or just confuses you. It it very subtle, a little harder of a cheese and pairs well with fruits, chocolates and most red wines. It's simple and beautiful.
  7. Le Roule- This French soft, creamy cow's milk cheese closely resembles feta in flavor. I like to use it as a base for bruschetta or just on a bread all by itself!
  8. Emmentaler- One of the two varieties of Swiss cheeses, this one is just my favorite. I like it cold with pickles on a sandwich or grated and tossed in with just about any casserole or dip, and of course....melted with some kirschwasser for a fondue!!!
  9. Parmesan- A very basic, very essential cheese in my world. NO, not that disgusting powder that clogs the shakers at pizza parlors. Yuck. I mean a REAL grated Parmesan....perfect for melting over meats, in sauces, adding to dips, or just topping a salad!
  10. Feta- One of my first ventures into the world of "different" I will always have a special place in my tummy for feta! I LOVE Greek food, so this little guy is pretty much a staple in my diet sitting on a nice, warm pita.
Here in Kansas City, it's pretty easy to find gourmet cheeses at places that let you sample. Better Cheddar is one of my favorites, but be prepared to pay for it! With specialty crackers, pickles, chutneys, chocolates and's pretty easy to drop a bill in there for an elegant platter. Whole Foods would be my runner up in this category where unlike Cheddar, I can also buy some fresh bread. I can find Port Salut at Price Chopper for about half what it costs at Better Cheddar. Hopefully this guide is somewhat enlightening for some folks. This is an obsession for me....cheese worship. Don't tell me you LOVE cheese unless you are ready to talk some serious shop.