Enjoying Cheese Every Day
Imported cheese isn't only for parties – it's meant to be enjoyed every day. When it comes to finding ways to incorporate cheese into your daily life, our Cheese Specialists are full of great ideas and recipes. Here they share some of their most beloved no-occasion cheeses and their favorite ways to use them.
1. Brie Ermitage
There are many varieties of Brie made all over the world, including herbed varieties and versions of Brie made with other types of milk. Despite the variety of Brie, the French government officially certifies only two types of cheese to be sold under that name: Brie de Meaux and Brie de Melun.
Manufactured in the town of Meaux in the Brie region of northern France since the 8th century, Brie de Meaux was originally known as “the King's Cheese," or, after the French Revolution, “the King of Cheeses," and was enjoyed by peasantry and nobility alike. It was granted the protection of Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) status in 1980, and it is produced primarily in the eastern part of the Parisian basin.
Imported directly from France, this smooth, creamy and plump cheese has a wonderfully buttery flavor with pleasant, slightly mushroomy influences when it's fully ripened. It is truly one of the finest Bries we've found. It's so delicious; every morsel should be consumed – even the rind! It pairs well with any Bordeaux or Burgundy or even Champagne or sparkling cider. If you like Brie, you'll LOVE this one!
Everyday Serving Suggestion: Roasted Strawberry, Brie and Chocolate Grilled Cheese
(Note: If you cannot find Brie Ermitage, try one of these comparable cheeses: young Fromager d'Affinois, Great Lakes Brie, Saint Angel or a middle-aged Bent River Organic Camembert.)
2. Irish Dubliner
Dubliner is a sweet, mature cheese (aged over twelve months) manufactured by Carbery and marketed internationally under the auspices of the Irish Dairy Board under the Kerrygold brand. The cheese is named after the city of Dublin, although it is made in the County of Cork. It combines the sharpness of mature Cheddar, the nuttiness of Swiss chees, and the bite of Parmesan. The cheese was developed by John Lucey; his secret recipe is exclusively held by the Carbery company.
Dubliner cheese may contain small, white natural calcium lactate crystals, which give the cheese a unique crystalline crunch.
Everyday Serving Suggestion: Irish Dubliner with Kowalski's Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies (from the Bakery Department)
(Note: If you cannot find Dubliner Cheddar, try one of these comparable cheeses: Espresso BellaVitano, Black Pepper BellaVitano, Gold BellaVitano, Cottonwood River Cheddar, Milton Creamery Prairie Breeze Cheddar and Barber's 1833 Vintage.
3. Life in Provence Fresh Chèvre
The French call fresh goat cheese "chèvre." Truly fresh, the whole process of making this cheese takes just four days. It is delightfully smooth and distinctively tangy.
Everyday Serving Suggestion: Fresh Chèvre, Date and Speck Flatbread
(Note: If you cannot find Life in Provence Chèvre, these following goat cheeses are comparable: Stickney Hill Chèvre, Pico Affine Picandine and Capra.)
4. Beemster Classic Gouda
Beemster Classic is matured for no less than 18 months to ensure a wonderfully complex taste. The beautiful color of this cheese instantly reminds you of caramel. Classic was the first cheese from Beemster introduced to the United States and to this day remains the best-selling Beemster cheese.
Cheese lovers of every age love Beemster. Connoisseurs may prefer to enjoy it on its own with a glass of red wine, but it's equally great on a cheese sandwich for your grade-schoolers' lunchbox, or even with your morning coffee!
Everyday Serving Suggestion: Beemster Classic Gouda with Kowalski's Banana Walnut Bread (in the Bakery Department)
(Note: If you cannot find Beemster Classic, these cheeses will also work well: Old Amsterdam Gouda, Essex Street L'Amuse Gouda, Montasio, Zamorano and Prima Donna.)
5. Buttermilk Blue
Select wheels of Buttermilk Blue are cured a minimum of six months. This cheese is dense, with a peppery note. Try it crumbled into mashed potatoes or spread on crostini with chopped dates, dried apricots or olives. It also works well in salads and on pizza. You can pair this cheese with Port, Cabernet Sauvignon and Amarone wine. The creamy, tangy, salty aspects of this cheese are balanced when paired with pears, apples, roasted nuts and crystallized ginger.
Everyday Serving Suggestion: Buttermilk Blue on Iceberg Wedges with Apple Cider Vinaigrette and Crumbled Millionaire's Bacon
(Note: If you cannot find Buttermilk Blue, these blues are wonderful as well: Northern Lights Blue, St. Pete's Select, Cashel Blue, La Coccinelle Roquefort and Rogue River Smokey Blue.)
6. Grana Padano
Grana Padano is one of the world's first hard cheeses, created nearly 900 years ago at Chiaravalle Abbey, founded in 1135 near Milan. The Cistercian monks of Chiaravalle made ripened cheese as a way of preserving surplus milk. By the year 1477, it was regarded as one of the most famous cheeses of Italy. It is made similarly to the Parmigiano-Reggiano of Emilia-Romagna. Grana cheeses are also made in Lombardy, Piedmont, Trentino and Veneto.
Like Parmigiano-Reggiano, Grana Padano is a semi-hard cheese that is cooked and ripened slowly (for at least 9 months). If it then passes quality tests, it is fire-branded with the Grana Padano trademark. It is produced year-round, and the quality can vary seasonally as well as by year. Though similar to Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, the younger Grana Padano cheeses are less crumbly, milder and less complex in flavor than their more famous, longer-aged relative.
Everyday Serving Suggestion: Roasted Green Beans with Almond, Roasted Garlic and Grana Padano
(Note: If you cannot find Grana Padano, these cheeses will be outstanding substitutes: Parmigiano-Reggiano, Sarvecchio, Prima Donna, Piave and Parrano.)
7. Crave Brothers Mascarpone
Mascarpone originated in the area between Lodi and Abbiategrasso, Italy, southwest of Milan, probably in the late 16th or early 17th century. With its rich and creamy profile, this smooth white cheese is ideal for desserts and can be mixed with whipped cream and used as a dip for fresh fruits. It can also be used in place of cream cheese or heavy cream in many recipes.
Crave Brothers award-winning mascarpone is made in Waterloo, Wisconsin, and to date has earned 20 prestigious awards.
Everyday Serving Suggestion: Mascarpone with Fresh Berries and Velvet Bee's Honey Butter
8. Bambina Fontina
Fontina gets its name from the Italian word fondare, meaning to melt, making this a great choice for all of your everyday dishes, from pizza and lasagna to quesadillas or grilled cheese.
Everyday Serving Suggestion: Baked Fontina with Crusty French Baguette (from the Bakery Department)
(Note: If you cannot find Bambina Fontina, you can use these other wonderful cheeses: Fontina Val d'Aosta, Fol Epi, Jarlsberg, Swedish Fontina or Jasper Hills' Alpha Tolman.)
9. Israeli Feta
Many countries claim feta as "their" cheese, but it is hard to say who was truly the first to make it. Wherever feta is made in the world, its basic characteristics don't change; it is salty, tangy and milky with a creamy yet crumbly texture. There are slight variances, however, in flavor and texture depending on what type of milk is used (cow, sheep or goat) and where the feta is made.
French feta: Usually made with excess sheep's milk that is not used for making Roquefort, French feta is typically mild and creamy. Some goat's milk feta is also made in France and can be slightly drier and tangier.
Greek feta: Made from at least 70% sheep's milk, often with a little goat's milk blended in, Greek feta is typically salty, tangy, rich and creamy. Some versions with more goat's milk tend to be drier.
Israeli feta: This full-flavored, creamy, not-too-salty feta is made from sheep's milk.
American feta: American versions of this cheese can be made with sheep, goat or even cow's milk. Usually the predominant flavor is tangy, and the texture is more crumbly than other types of feta.
Everyday Serving Suggestion: Orzo Salad with Asparagus, Olives and Israeli Feta
10. Gruyère de Comté
This ancient French cheese has been made in small village-based cooperative dairies for over eight centuries. This system has created a sense of solidarity and pride and has preserved the traditions and small-scale production techniques that have helped ensure Comté continues to be one of France's most popular cheeses.
Each cooperative has its own distinct profile that reflects the soil, climate and plant life on which the cows graze. Gruyère may have hints of the flavors of melted butter, milk chocolate, hazelnuts and fudge with aromas of toast, plum jam, leather, pepper and even dark chocolate. Others can be more reminiscent of butterscotch and even sweet oranges.
Because it melts well, Gruyère is used in quiches, soups, gratins, fondues, sauces and salads. Its creamy texture and fruity tang marries well with fish and white meat. It is lovely with Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc or Viognier.
Everyday Serving Suggestion: Gruyère de Comté with Fresh Vegetable Crudités and Grüner Veltliner (from the Wine Shop)
(Note: If you cannot find Comté, you can use these other Alpine-style cheeses: Gruyère 1655, Roth Käse Surchoix Gruyère, Fol Epi, Jasper Hills' Alpha Tolman, Marcoot Cave-Aged Forrest Alpine and Pleasant Ridge Reserve.)