Ordering a cheese plate is a chance to savor various selections you won’t usually find in your local supermarket. But it can also be a daunting task. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind.
1. Describe to the cheese specialist what you like (and dislike).
If you can think of comparisons, that will help them find the right cheeses for you.
2. Seek for their advice.
Although you might not necessarily like the same flavor and aroma profiles, it can help if you ask the cheese specialist what their favorites are.
3. Request for a sample.
If you’re not sure about a particular cheese you can ask them for a sample.
4. Don’t be boring.
Ordering the same cheeses you’re familiar with when you’re in a buffet like the Bellagio or Bacchanal might be a safe way to go about it but you could be missing out on some really good ones. Try a different milk type, a different country of origin, or a different texture.
5. Eat cheese in progression.
You can start with the dry cheeses first then proceed to cheese with higher moisture content after. You can go with mild cheeses then proceed to stronger ones.
6. Keep pairings simple.
Fresh fruit is the best food pairing with cheese since it’s acidic and will help you cleanse your palate. Plain bread is also a good pair because of its simple contrast in texture. Remember, the focus should be on the cheese. That said, avoid citrusy fruits because high acidity and tartness can overpower the cheese.
7. When it doubt, Champagne works with any cheese.
8. Take notes.
Write down the cheeses you like so you can try them again in the future.
Types of Cheese
Cheese has been one of those most sought after ingredients in nearly every cuisine. Different types of cheese are made using different methods and various types of milk. How do they differ from each other?
The different types of cheese have varying levels of firmness and this is due to the moisture level. Higher moisture content gives you softer cheese, and conversely low levels give you dense cheese. Some cheeses are aged and can be a few months to a few years old, while others are freshly made.
Another difference would be on the type of milk and where the animal (source of milk) lives. The environment creates a distinct taste for the cheese which is why Italian, Swiss and French cheeses have different tastes.
Currently, there are over 1,000 varieties of cheese – in France alone! Due to the wide range of choices, you’ll need to group them based on the characteristics they have.
1. Fresh Cheese
The youngest, rindless, unaged cheese with bright white color. Some are mild others acidic. It has the highest moisture content of all the cheeses and with very light flavor.
2. Soft Cheese
This cheese is ripened for 1-30 days and have high moisture an high fat content. It has a rich, silky and velvety interior that melts in your mouth. It tastes like lightly salted butter that is slightly sweet and with a buttermilk acidity.
3. Semi-Soft Cheeses
This is denser that soft cheese and also earthier. It has a bit pungent taste and may have a slightly rubber exterior, with soft interior. The thicker rinds are pungent and earthy, while inside you get a buttery tasting paste.
4. Semi-Firm Cheeses
Aging cheeses have a level of complexity and start to have developed notes, ranging from floral, fruity, and aroma of butter that has been freshly browned. Semi-firm cheeses are great for shredding or slicing.
5. Hard Cheeses
These dry-textured cheeses have a potent, deeply savory flavor. They have a dynamic texture when sliced thinly and are often grated on top of pasta or mixed with jams.
6. Blue-Veined Cheeses
This is perhaps the most complex of all the cheeses. You get a rich and creamy cheese that is also aromatic and pungent at the same time. Blue cheese starts out like any other cheese, but in the aging process, penicillium culture is introduced. Needles are pierced throughout the cheese to in order for mold to grow. It is then left to age in a dark cave for a few months to several years, so the bacteria does not interact with its other flavor profiles.
Watch this video to find out how Gorgonzola is made: