It has been constant in our lives, from childhood, to wherever we are now. Cheese has been our favorite food since the beginning of time, it has found it’s way into pastas, sandwiches, pizzas, wontons, dosa, nachos and God knows what. However, the best way to sample cheese is to have it just the way it is. For beginners to cheese, and connoisseurs alike, here are 7 trips you should take to sample cheese from around the world. There’s more to life than processed cheese! Featured Image by Mikael Sundberg
Where: The UK
A lot of us know it as the fattening, unhealthy, orange American cheese, but it actually originated from a town of the same name: Cheddar, Somerset in the UK! Now however, it is produced in a lot of countries. The cheese is pale colored, ranging from yellow to off-white unless it has added colors (Like the Orange, American version) and tastes acidic! Try it in the UK, from the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company.
Do not be mistaken, since the name and related intellectual property (IPR) are not protected, Cheddar may be thrown around as a loose term. Be sure you find the right one! Image: Wonderopolis.org
It was originally produced and is still found in Normandy, France. There are also Hungarian and Slovak variants. It is white in color, made from cow’s milk and takes around 3 weeks to age, before consumption. The name “Camembert” is protected by the AOC in France so only a few types of cheese made in a particular way can qualify to be called Camembert. It is accompanied by light Normandy Cider or Red Beaujolais wine. The cheese is soft, and when young , tastes buttery and sweet
The best variety of this cheese goes by the name of Camembert Le Châtelain. Image: Tryophile.wordpress.com
Where: Basque Country, Spain
This cheese is made from Sheep Milk, and is made in Basque Country and Navarre, Spain. Even though it isn’t smoked, it has a smoky flavor, similar to that of Bacon or Caramel, this cheese is really hard and is wrapped in a brown rind. A must eat, with quince jam. This cheese’s name is also protected by the Spanish so to qualify as Idiazabal, the cheese must be made in a particular region, by using a particular type of sheep as the source of the milk.
This cheese too draws its name from the village that made it popular.Image: Wheycoolcurds.wordpress.com
Lombardy’s product, aged Italian blue cheese made from unskimmed cow’s milk has a salty taste to it, biting into the blue veins releases an even stronger taste! It feels buttery in the mouth and crumbles easily, often leaving behind a nutty taste. It is among the oldest blue-veined cheeses and is protected in Italy, under their naming and registration of IPR provisions. It is made from unskimmed cow’s milk and has 2 varieties. Gorgonzola Dolce and Gorgonzola Picanté. It goes with wine too, but it is often used with short pasta, or with risotto too. To sample it on food, your best bet would be a four cheese pizza. (Pizza ai quattro formaggi)
The finest and most popular of Italian cheese, the famous Parmigiano (or Parmesan) is made from cows’ milk and is hard. Only cheese made on the west and south of river Po in Italy is allowed to be classified as Parmigiano, can you believe it? There’s Italian government regulations on how cheese should be named! This one is every Cheese lover’s and connoisseurs first love, and for good reason. It is a snack on it’s own, and can be grated on pastas, but beware, there’s plenty of copycats out there for this type of cheese too. Image: cheeseunderground.blogspot.com
Where: The Netherlands
This Dutch yellow cheese is named after the city of the same name, the local way of saying it is similar to saying “How-da”, it is hugely popular around the world, accounting for half of the world’s cheese consumption. It is served with Dutch Mustard, as a snack or even consumed with sugar or apple syrup! Unlike other cheese, gouda’s taste depends on the time it has been aged, it doesn’t therefore have a uniform taste. This is among the types of cheeses whose name isn’t protected. The cheese has a level of curiosity around it, given that it has a colored covering, the colored covering ranges from red, yellow, orange, dark blue to black, the darker the color, more mature the cheese!
It is a popular dessert cheese that goes well with deep wines like Shiraz, or Merlot. Image: goldenagecheese.com
Yes, this is Swiss cheese, it is hard, and aged typically for 6 to 12 months. It derives it’s name from Gruyeres in Switzerland. It has a sweet and salty flavor, often tasting nutty when young, the best quality however, is that the cheese is light. The cheese can be prepared even in 3 months, but like the finer things in life, cheese takes patience. Upon aging, it develops cracks, and has a more earthy taste. Le Gruyere Premiere Cru is the best variety. Image: Wikimedia Commons
Among other popular cheese from Europe, there’s Edam, Brie, Roquefort, Feta and many others.