What’s that you say? Cheese shops intimidate you? It is understandable. I find it genuinely overwhelming to peer into a case after case lined with hundreds of cheeses in various shapes, sizes, color, labels and in many instances, difficult to pronounce names. Where does one even began when it comes to choosing cheese? Which are mild, which are sharp, which are stinky and are they made from cow, goat or sheep milk. While I am still intimated, I have gained the courage to ask the cheesemonger for advice and samples.
I thought perhaps a brief description of several kinds of cheese choices might help us the next time we go to our favorite cheese store. Here is a listing of several sorts of cheese by the United States Department of Agriculture.
Bel Paese — The name means “beautiful country,” and it is the trade-name of one of Italy’s best-known and most popular table cheese.
Bleu — This is the French name for the group of blue-veined cheeses made in the Roquefort area in southeastern France. The cheese tends to be sharp and salty and may be formed from Cow’s, sheep’s or goat’s milk.
Blue — This is the American and Canadian designation for the French bleu cheese.
Brick — This is original American cheese. It is a mild but somewhat pungent cheese, with a sweet flavor between Cheddar and Limburger.
Brie — Although Brie, like many kinds of cheese, has been made for centuries, it’s only in the past recent years that it has become popular in the United States. It is a soft, sweet, surface ripened cheese often sold in wheels and best served at room temperature.
Camembert — It is a soft surface-ripened cheese. The interior is yellow, waxy, and creamy. Similar to Brie but a different flavor.
Cheddar — Cheddar was first made in England, but today it seems to be very much the all American cheese.
Colby — This is another good American cheese. It is much like Cheddar but has a softer body and more open texture. It does not keep as well as Cheddar.
Edam — Originating in the Netherlands, It has a pleasingly mild, sometimes salty flavor and a firm and crumbly body. In the United States Edam is covered with a red paraffin coating.
Gorgonzola — This is the principal blue-green veined cheese of Italy.
Gouda — This is an Argentine cheese similar to the Italian Asiago. It has a pungent aroma
Gruyere — This famous Swiss cheese is named after that village in Switzerland. Gruyere has smaller eyes and a sharper flavor than Swiss and makes a great grilled cheese sandwich.
Limburger — This is a German cheese and is a semi-soft, surface-ripen cheese with a characteristic robust flavor and aroma.
This is part 1 of a series of choosing cheese.