Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cheese stuff....

"The cheese case at The Wine & Cheese Place may look like a mystifying jumble of myriad cheeses to many customers, but almost all cheeses informally belong to one of seven cheese “families.” These groupings are generally defined by the process used to make each type of cheese.

Bloomy rind cheeses are covered with a downy velvet of white mold, and ripen from the outside inward. When ripe, the centers should have a definite “give” when gently pressed in the middle. Before being shipped for sale, they are wrapped in paper and sometimes put into individual wooden boxes so that they can breathe and continue to mature. The inside (paste) will have a very soft, buttery or almost melting consistency. Their rinds are edible, but may not be to the taste of everybody. Popular bloomy rind cheeses are single, double and triple crème Bries, Camembert, Chaource, Fleur de Alpes, and the goat milk Florette. Appropriate wines for bloomy rind cheeses include Pinot Noir or Gamay. Try Mark West Pinot Noir or Duboeuf Moulin a Vent.

Washed rind cheeses have rinds that are tan to almost orangy. During the ripening process they are washed, rubbed or even immersed in a liquid bath that can consist of brine, wine, beer or simply water. This liquid acts as food for the surface bacteria that give these cheeses their distinctive and full flavor. Inside the paste is semi-soft to soft. Well-known washed rind cheeses include Pont l’Eveque, Epoisses, Liverot, Munster, Chimay and Italian Taleggio. They are best served with a minerally white wine like Hunold Pinot Gris.

Natural rind cheeses have rinds that are formed as the cheese is exposed to air and dried. Some are tightly wrapped in cloth for maturing. Their paste is firm to crumbly with a generally creamy, “cheesey” taste. This family includes Cheshire, Mimolette, Cantel, and Tomme de Savoie, and are very good with a nice Cotes do Rhone like the Chateau Segries ($11.99)

Uncooked pressed cheeses are made from curds that have not been cooked before they are pressed into moulds and drained of whey. (However, the milk is usually heat pasteurized.) They are semi-firm to firm, depending on their age. Their taste ranges from mild and smooth (young cheeses) to tangy and sharp (aged cheeses). Best known are Cheddar, French Morbier, Spanish Manchego, and Basque sheep cheeses. Accompany them with a good hearty read like a Atteca Spanish Grenache.

Cooked pressed cheeses are some of the most well-loved, and are often used in cooking. They are made from curds that have been heated to break down proteins before they are pressed into moulds. This is why they melt so well. Most cooked pressed cheeses are aged and firm to hard. They include favorites like Emmenthaler (Swiss), Gruyere, Gouda, Edam and Parmesan.

Veined cheeses are often called “blue cheese,” although their molds can also be green, yellow or purple. Almost every cheese-producing Western country makes a veined cheese, caused by the introduction of penicillium bacteria that either forms naturally or is injected into the cheese as it matures. Veined cheeses are neither cooked nor pressed. The curds are scooped into moulds which are turned frequently to allow the curds to press out most of the whey. Some of the whey remains, however, which is why veined cheeses often weep or drip liquid when they are fresh. Veined cheeses can range from creamy and mild to strong, tangy and crumbly. The three kings of veined cheeses are British Stilton, French Roquefort, and Italian Gorgonzola. Traditionally they are matched with a great bottle of Port

Fresh cheeses are uncooked and unripened. They are very moist and mild, with a pleasant, somewhat tart taste. Examples include cream cheese, cottage cheese, Chevre (fresh goat cheese), fresh Ricotta, and Mascarpone.

--- Bonnie Canning, Cheesemonger

Remember, to come in and taste before you buy. We never pre-cut cheese, cut FRESH to order. This is the only way to buy cheese, because cheese is a living organism.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this! The cheese case can be a little intimidating to a cheese novice.