Cheese has long been one of our favorite foods to eat. Evidence of cheese making has been found dating back to 2800 BCE. Cheese was discovered quite by accident; milk that was stored in sacks made from animal stomachs would coagulate, and the solids (curds) and liquid (whey) would separate. Cheese can be categorized as:
- Fresh cheeses such as mozzarella, ricotta cheese, feta, and mascarpone;
- Aged fresh cheeses such as boucheron, goat cheese, and valencay;
- Soft white cheeses such as brie, camembert, and Brillat-Savarin;
- Semi-soft cheeses such as taleggio, edam, and mild gouda;
- Hard cheeses such as parmigiana reggiano, manchego, mimolette, and pecorino;
- Blue cheeses such as stilton, gorgonzola, and Roquefort;
- Flavor added cheeses such as cheeses with added fruit, herbs, nuts, or smoke.
Cheeses can come in a wide variety of milk types ranging from cow and goat, to sheep and buffalo. A perfect cheeseboard should have samples of all of these styles, along with accompaniments such as nuts, dried fruits, honey, quince paste, fresh berries and grapes.
At Merchants Market we can supply a great number of both Domestic and Imported cheeses for all of your needs. Chefs are continuing to delight our pallets with new and inventive ways of incorporating cheeses into their menus. These cheeses have really become what can set apart your flavor profile from other chef’s recipes. Adding different types of cheese to Macaroni and Cheese has become a great way to change the flavor profile of a classic. Putting a blue cheese or a flavored cheese on a burger or inside of a burger is a fabulous way to set your burger apart from everyone else’s. Gourmet sandwiches have become increasingly popular over the standard hoagies of days past. With the addition of Artisan Breads, nothing makes a sandwich “pop” better than using a creative brie or other cheese besides the same old American, swiss and provolone.
For years, cheese from the United States had always failed in comparison to the European products. Lately the American Artisan Cheeses have had an unbelievable growth in availability, flavor profile, and popularity. Our love affair with French and Italian cheese is still as strong as ever, and the English Cheddar varieties have always had a soft spot in my heart. But for me right now, the USA is coming on strong with some of the most exciting flavors of cheese that I’ve seen in years. Here are a few of my favorite products:
The Original American Original®. Conceived in a dream (yes, really!) by founder Mary Keehn, this masterpiece paved the way for soft-ripened goat cheese in America. Each handcrafted wheel features a distinctive ribbon of edible vegetable ash. You’ll enjoy buttermilk and fresh cream, complemented with floral notes, herbaceous overtones, and a clean citrus finish. As Humboldt Fog matures, the creamline develops and the flavor intensifies.
The distinct and unexpected marriage of lavender and hand-harvested wild fennel pollen makes this Purple Haze utterly addictive—and unforgettable. The finest ingredients are used and it always starts with the highest quality milk.
It’s all about the rub! Colorado Legacy Fine Coffee’s produces a Beehive Blend of South American, Central American, and Indonesian beans roasted in different styles exclusively for Barely Buzzed. The unique espresso blend is then mixed with French Superior lavender buds and freshly ground onsite. The mixture is diluted with oil to suspend the dry ingredients in the rub. Rubbing the cheese produces notes of butterscotch and caramel near the rind, which find their way to the center of the cheese.
From the land of salt and honey, SeaHive is hand-rubbed with wildflower honey harvested from a local farm and RealSalt® sea salt. RealSalt® is harvested from an ancient sea bed near Redmond, Utah and contains unique flecks of color from more than 50 natural trace minerals.
ROGUE CREAMERY SMOKEY BLUE
A long, gentle cold-smoking over shells from Oregon hazelnuts infuses Rogue Creamery’s Smokey Blue cheese with an added layer of rich flavor and terroir. Sweet cream flavors and caramel notes balance earthy flavors of smoke and hints of roasted nuts. The result is a cakey yet smooth blue cheese reminiscent of candied bacon.
Smokey Blue is the first of its kind in the world and it’s flavor is signature to Oregon as the smoke is derived from Oregon hazelnut shells. Sweet, nutty, savory flavors envelope the sweet, rich milk creating a creme brulee with a hint of the toasted, sweet richness of a campfire.
BEECHERS NO WOMAN
Adding Jamaican Jerk spices creates a savory cheese that’s earthy, nutty and spicy. With its complex, smoky flavor, No Woman is just as delicious melted into your favorite dish as it is on a cheese plate.
This is just a handful of exciting products that are currently in the market. The internet is a great resource to brush up on your cheese knowledge. I encourage everyone to learn as much as they can and above all to not be afraid to try something different. Chances are you will be pleasantly surprised more often than disappointed.
Cheese, Love and Happiness,