Caerphilly is produced in the town by the same name in South Wales. With a slight taste of lemon, it is white and creamy and has a salty crumbly curd Ās the cheese ages it gets a hard outer rind and a firm center. The best part is that this cheese is nutritious and full of essential minerals.
Queijo de Serra da Estrela is a Portuguese cheese that has been produced in the Serra da Estrela region. It is hand-made from sheep milk between November and May using the milk that comes from the ancient Bordaleira sheep breed. In the highest mountains, cardoons grow wild and their blossoms are used to cure this cheese.
The cardoon is a thistle-like plant and part of the sunflower family. The cheese is soft, creamy and tangy. Only ten Portuguese villages make this cheese and the people making it must follow strict regulations which apply to the milk as well as to the production and aging process.
Queso Fresco means “fresh cheese” and it is an authentic Mexican cheese that is made from either cow milk or a combination of cow and goat milk. This cheese is preferred for cooking because when it gets heated it becomes soft and creamy. It never melts completely and doesn’t become stringy. Preferred for Mexican cooking the cheese is used to stuff chile rellenos and for baking casseroles. If you buy this cheese produced by hand you’ll see that it is wrapped in banana leaves and usually sold at a farmer’s market.
Roquefort is a well-known cheese from France. This cheese has its own story. There was once a shepherd who left his sheep at the foot of Massif de Combalou because he was attracted to a fair maiden and chose to follow her. The shepherd put his bread and cheese made with sheep milk in a cave and returned months later to discover that the cheese was now covered with a blue mold. Since he was hungry the shepherd ignored the fact that the cheese and bread were moldy and ate them anyway. He found that the cheese was quite tasty.
We all now know that Roquefort became a popular form of blue cheese. The tale might not be true but the cheese is very tasty. It is made from the mild of Lacaune sheep and aged naturally in limestone caves in the very heart of Cambalou Mountain. The tiny village of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon in the Aveyron region of France produces it according to strict guidelines. The cheese has blue mold spots and is a bit tangy, salty and creamy. It can be spread on bread or crackers and is also crumbled in different salads.
This is one of my favorite cheeses – Feta. The American version of this cheese is made from cow milk but the original Greek feta is made from sheep and goat milk. It is richer and creamier. Regulations for making this cheese say that it can only be called feta if it has been produced in the central part of Greece or in Lesvos, Macedonia, Thrace, Thessaly or the Peloponnese. During the processing feta is formed into blocks, salt is added and then gets placed in brine in wooden barrels. The cheese is then aged for three months. It is great on bread or crackers or crumbled in salads.
Authentic Gouda cheese comes from the Netherlands and is made in the town of the same name and comes in a variety of styles all based on aging. Young Gouda has a red wax rind, is aged for three months and is sweet, creamy and mild. The cheese becomes firmer after it has been cured from four to nine months and has developed a mild, nutty flavor and a bit of zesty. This cheese is great served with beer or wine. It can accompany nuts or fruits and for cooking, it can be used when making omelets or melted atop a burger.
Epoisses cheese comes from a small village in the Cote d’Or in Burgundy in France. The cheese originated in the Middle Ages. The cheese is a bit pungent and has an edible, cantaloupe-colored rind. It is brined, cured and washed with Marc de Bourgogne (a liquor distilled from pomace that is left over from winemaking once the grapes have been pressed). When the cheese is young its aroma is not as pronounced and it’s firm. It is a fine cheese to have with red Burgundy. When aged it becomes softer and more pungent. Even though you might say it is smelly, its pungency is part of the creamy, rich and nutty flavor that goes well with a white Burgundy.
Most everyone knows and enjoys Mozzarella cheese especially melted on pizza. There are many different varieties and copies made of this cheese but the best is still the original Mozzarella di Bufala from Italy. The original is made from water buffalo milk from the Campania region and has been produced since the Middle Ages. It is made by kneading the warm, cheese curds to create smooth balls and then placing them in brined water from five to seven days. The Mozzarella cheese comes out tender and smooth. It is popular for making melted sandwiches and chopped or grated in salads. Make sure you have some on hand the next time you make your own pizza at home.
Nabulsi is a semi-hard cheese. It is used in Turkey, Greece, Israel and the Arabic nations to make desserts. It is great when baked in layers with kataifi dough, walnuts or pistachios and rose water or drizzled with honey. The cheese can be made with goat or sheep milk. Once formed it is placed in brine. Nabulsi is great with fresh pita bread, in salads, with pickled vegetables and with all kinds of appetizers.
Crottin de Chavignol is a superior quality goat cheese that is produced in the Loire Valley in France. This cheese has been produced in the village of Chavignol since the sixteenth century. It is a white cheese that ages for eight days and gets a nutty kind of flavor.