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Dan Black

Tue|Feb

08

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Please step away from the Jarlsberg

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If you’re anything like me you have a number of things you will always find sitting in your refrigerator: Milk, eggs, your supply of beers (or wines depending on who you are), maybe that plastic container of Chinese you’ve forgotten about.  And let’s not forget the most important part…your favorite chunk of cheese.

Everyone has that “Go to” cheese. The one you grab when you are having surprise guests, or maybe if the case of 300 cheeses seems like too much to handle.  There’s no need to merely focus all your attention on just one when there are so many cheeses out there, not yet discovered and tasted.  I’m going to tell you a few of my favorite “Go to” to cheeses, the ones I go to when I’m looking for great taste without breaking a budget.

For the goat cheese lover out there we have Crottin di Chavignol. This delicious little goat cheese has been in production since the 16th century and comes from Loire, France. The fun thing about it is that it comes in many different forms and can be used in a number of ways.  When young, it acts as a sweet and tangy Chevre, a great addiction to any fresh salad.  But the fun comes when aged and firm, this is when I enjoy broiling them. The outer layer becomes crispy and flaky with a beautiful robust toasty flavor, while the interior takes on a softer, smoother texture.  I know it may sound weird or tabu, but try it sometime, you will be greatly pleased with the results.

Manchego is easily Spain’s most famous cheese, we get requests for a “different” Manchego more than anything else.  The cheese I usually give in response to this request is Ombra from Catalunya, Spain.  Unlike most Manchego this is not coated with a colorful casing, it’s a natural rind much like a Tomme style.  Which brings me to its taste…which excites me the most.  It has all the sharpness of an aged Manchego but oh so much more. It’s starts off sweet and creamy like warm milk and opens up to heavy, rustic tones.  Everything you want in a Spanish sheep’s milk and so much more.  Try it with an aged Serrano and a sweet fig jam…okay, I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

So don’t be afraid to ask our friendly cheese mongers for fun new recommendations. You know who you are, creeping into the cheese cave, not making eye contact and just taking your piece of cyro-vac cheese and walking away.  I implore you!  Put that piece of Jarlsberg down and give us a moment of your time, I promise we will make it well worth it.

Remember: don’t be afraid of trying new cheeses…you’re biting it, it’s not biting you.

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