I’ve been wanting to
rant talk about cheese. I love cheese. Except for the gnarly blues, I don’t like mold in, on, or near my cheese.
A many years ago my roommates hosted a wine and cheese tasting party. How fancy is that for a Canuck like me? I made my 7 layer dip, which included cream cheese and shredded cheese, so it counted as a viable appetizer within the theme of the party. I’m thinking of having a cheese tasting, it might just be me and the kids, but it would be fun!
You hear all those “rules” for assembling a cheese board… You must stay within a family of cheeses. You should have a variety of textures. Always include a safe choice. Bleh, who needs rules. My requirements are simple: no processed cheese, no moldy cheese, and no nuts on my cheese.
There’s quite a variety of cheese available at the local grocery store these days. There’s no absolute need to find a specialty shop, however I will go hunting for exotics at a higher-end grocery store (Whole Foods or Central Market). The advantage of buying aged or smoked cheese is that they are packed with flavour. You can use less of an aged cheddar than the bland pre-shredded cheese in zip-topped bags dangling on spokes in a cooler. Using less means less fat too. For busy people, especially parents, the prepared shredded cheese has its place as the utility you keep stocked in the fridge for eggs, tacos, or chili.
Tid-bit for you…
One 1-inch cube of cheddar contains 3.6 grams of saturated fat.
One 1-inch cube of feta contains 2.5 grams of saturated fat.
One 1-inch cube of guyere contains 2.8 grams of saturated fat.
Try a local dairy farm cheese. Food&Wine’s “Ultimate Cheese Plate” ensemble of top cheeses lists a Chèvre from down the road in Dripping Springs (also home to awesome BBQ). I loved reading Lisa’s post about working on a local farm where they produced cheese, what an experience! And living close to a farm or farmer’s market exposes you to delicious local cheese and produce.
Last month, I made the mistake of not reading the entire label on a small wheel of smoked gouda, it was processed and gross. Why would you ruin gouda by processing it? Who eats this crap??? Even the kids wouldn’t eat it – this was a nasty little rubbery piece of fake cheese. After that faux pas I read the labels twice before chucking it in the cart.
Don’t forget about stocking a good hard cheese for pastas. Freshly grated Pecorino, Parmesan, or Romano cheese tastes so much better than the cylinder of “shaky cheese” as my mom used to call it, and I invariably call it that for my kids too. If all you can find are fairly large pieces at the store, either ask the deli/cheese counter to cut a smaller piece, or separate the wedge at home and freeze in an air-tight bag. It should last for 6 months in the freezer so long as it stays dry and sealed.
Lately English (or if you prefer: British) cheese has been catching my attention. I find the smallest chunk to try a new cheese out before I would place it on a platter for all to enjoy at my imaginary cheese party. Costco had bricks of “rugged aged” white cheddar for a very reasonable price, I took a chance on buying it and was very pleased I did. Everyone loves it!
Reference: usda.gov for nutritional information
What is your favorite cheese?