Wednesday, January 11, 2012

It's a Cheesy Life

Any party I've ever thrown has involved cheese. Whether it is a simple cheese dip or an entire table of cheese, I'm partial. It's easy, elegant and leaves me with some delicious leftovers. In an effort to become the cheese connoisseur of my dreams, here are a few new cheeses to broaden the scope from brie, goat and blue. The first two, I've had and love, but the last three are new to my palate.

Here are 5 cheeses to try (or re-try):

A common selection at dinner parties, this variety is an easy crowd-pleaser. It's simple, delicious and soft for easy spreading onto your favorite cracker. Our key ingredient, Milk, is a big player in this cheese and quality breeds large taste dividends, so invest a little extra.

The elegant French blue stands above other classic blue cheeses with tradition. This is the oldest, recorded, blue cheese in European history. It comes from Sheep's milk and brings sweet, gamey notes to the pungent blue cheese. This moldy cheese is one of the most flavorful and rewarding.

Cabot Clothbound Cheddar
This is not your momma's cheddar. Cabot Clothbound Cheddar is a firm, grassy, cow's milk cheese that brings you a lovely balance of sharpness and sweetness. It's carefully wrapped in layers of cloth and aged in a cave, developing a rich, buttery English-style flavor with notes of caramel.

Constant Bliss (by Jasper Hill Farm)
While the name is busy pinpointing my feelings towards cheese consumption, the flavor and texture deliver perfection. It's semi-soft with a nutty, mushroomy taste that exhibit bits of salt throughout. It's an American Artisan cheese that's evolved from an Old World recipe and it's bliss.

Pleasant Ridge Reserve
A popular variation of gruyere cheese, this variation brings the full flavor of creamy butter. This is also a common American product.

My secret to finding the best cheese is to find the best cheese shop, wander the aisles and gently poke the plastic coverings shielding the cheese. The softest, gooiest cheese under $6 wins. If you're in Austin or Dallas, Central Market is my favorite.

*Bonus points for a good wine-pairing.
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