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July 4, 2015 6:13 PM   Subscribe

“Something old, something new, something goat, and something blue.” 7 Secrets To a Beautiful Cheese Board:
The first thing to remember when creating a cheese plate is that you want a good balance of flavors (strong to mild), textures (soft, semi-soft, semi-hard, and hard), colors, shapes, and sizes. It’s helpful to find a reputable local market with a cheese counter, and become acquainted with the cheesemonger and the cheese. All of the cheesemongers I know are not only happy to talk cheese, but are happy to let customers sample before they buy.
posted by Fizz (56 comments total) 66 users marked this as a favorite
 
For those in Ontario, Fifth Town does a smoked blue that is unreasonably good.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:17 PM on July 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's easy to snark on foodies and turophiles that turn up their nose and talk about fancy cheese but this article/post was really well informed and actually makes me want to find the local farmer's market and try some new cheeses.
posted by Fizz at 6:33 PM on July 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


I have a cold smoker rig I built that I use to smoke cheese for my family all the time. Never occurred to me to smoke Blue or Feta. I know what I'm doing next.

(Also, most people have never had smoked cheese, only smoke flavored cheese. It's actually a little challenging to find the real thing. If it's brown and has those lines on it, it's flavored. Smoking cheese for real doesn't really change the color much.)
posted by sourwookie at 7:17 PM on July 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


“Something old, something new, something goat, and something blue.”

I order a lot of cheese plates at restaurants, sometimes as an appetizer and other times as a non-sweet dessert option. Mostly they are just adequate, but it's always such a pleasure to get a really good set of cheeses, and even better when served with excellent bread or crackers and olives. I am personally not a fan of blue cheese, so it's also a pleasure when a restaurant can make a substitution while still leaving the assortment balanced and pleasant. (I like to see sheep on the list along with the goat, but I suppose that rhyme wouldn't work as well.)
posted by Dip Flash at 7:25 PM on July 4, 2015


On the smoking topic, the writer loses points from me for the smoked gouda--that would be the round thing with the brown rim. It's a processed product, not the real thing at all.

Mimolette (which she refers to as 'mimotte'), however, is a joy. Good God that cheese is amazing.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:32 PM on July 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Good cheese - particularly a well-planned cheese board - ranks as one of the best things in life. I love making cheese boards for people. You're all invited. Bring wine.
posted by missmary6 at 7:40 PM on July 4, 2015 [11 favorites]


Is the FDA allowing Mimolette to be imported into the US again? Last I looked, they weren't. God, I love that cheese. I was bereft when they stopped importing it.
posted by holborne at 7:44 PM on July 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Mimolette is back!
posted by Room 641-A at 8:15 PM on July 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


Not sure I've ever had a smoked Gouda, though I do like the aged stuff a lot.

A friend of mine had a vegan cheese the other day that was amazing—had she not mentioned that it was almond, I would have sworn it was a goat cheese.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 8:39 PM on July 4, 2015


Thats not a cheese board.

THIS IS A GODDAMN CHEESE BOARD

i have been to astier and done this and by jove i am having a flashback cheesegasm #notallcoronaries
posted by lalochezia at 8:50 PM on July 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


also if you are in nyc and you do not go to Otto and have the cheese plate you miss out on the truffle honey with a nice triple creme and a soft blue with gods own platonic cherries from platos gustatory cave and why am i drooling again must eat ALL the cheese nomnom nom nom nom nom nom
posted by lalochezia at 8:55 PM on July 4, 2015 [7 favorites]


It's a processed product, not the real thing at all.

Processed things are real things too. Is smoking gouda the "real" way not "processing" it?
posted by Jimbob at 8:57 PM on July 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


Live Brie Or Die!
brie-mail
Brie Harvey Oswald (Robert E. Brie? Kathy Brie Griffin?)
Redwood Brie
Brie box
Skeleton Brie
Brie slope
Love Reign O'er Brie
Scourge of the Seven Bries
All taxes and Bries included
Brie club
Go away! Just let me Brie!
From point A to point Brie
Surrey Bries
Who cares? I just want to Edam all up!

P.S. Brie you later!
posted by clorox at 9:03 PM on July 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Leydener Cheese with cumin seeds!

Kerry Gold's Dubliner is my all time fave. Grass fed white Irish Cheddar. Good with many things. Alone, it was my dinner tonight. With crackers and elderberry jam, or with apples, such good cheese.

Norwegian Gietost Giet-goat, ost-cheese.
posted by Oyéah at 9:27 PM on July 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


Now I'm hungry.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:27 PM on July 4, 2015


Other delicious Ontario cheese to try:

Gunn's Hill Five Brothers (literally addictive)
Cooke's Old Cheddar (available only at Cooke's in Kingston/Picton)
Lankaaster (love Beemster? love this instead)
Mountainoak Goudas (so many delicious additions - I love the cumin one!)
Guernsey Girl (fry it. seriously. you'll thank me)
Niagara Gold (it bites)


I used to part-time cheese-monger for a few years and loved it when customers would come in and need a cheese tray. The best was people who had distinct tastes but were open to new options. We always tried to have a cheddar, a blue, a goat or sheep, and a 'fun' cheese like beer cheddar or mango ginger stilton on each plate.
posted by hepta at 9:30 PM on July 4, 2015 [7 favorites]


Cheese is why I really do want to know the date and time of my own death. Until my lactose intolerance developed in my twenties, trying different cheeses was one of the great joys of life. I figure if I knew when I was set to depart, I could book a ticket to France and gorge on one last marvelous cheese board just before the bell tolls, then skate away without paying the piper.

Then again, what if the reward for my cleverness were an eternity of milksweats, babyshits, and swollen feet? Oh, god damn you god for writing my role in this hollow cheeseless farce.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 10:11 PM on July 4, 2015 [8 favorites]


MetaFilter: this hollow cheeseless farce.
posted by prismatic7 at 10:58 PM on July 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


My current obsession is Fresh Asiago. (Aged ~30 days vs 6+ months.) I mostly eat it out of hand, usually thinly sliced since it's a little squeaky. It's also great on any good bread with a light schmear of a mild Dijon mustard, cold or grilled/pressed. It reminds me of a very mild, young version of my favorite cheese, Esrom, or Tilsit, both of which are difficult to find in my immediate area.

Re: the smoked Gouda, I'm a fan of both the processed-cheese product known as "Smoked Gouda" and "Natural Gouda Which Happens To Be Smoked" but I agree it's not what I would choose for this situation.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:15 PM on July 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Cheese is love.
posted by JLovebomb at 11:29 PM on July 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


The best was people who had distinct tastes but were open to new options.

Oh thank God! Because when the cheese shop opened in our neighborhood, I walked in with the rest of the herd to try the new thing, and, upon seeing all of THAT! I was overwhelmed like a curd in the whey (?), and immediately felt kinda sheepish about what was on offer, and what I should ask for. It's heartening to learn that asking for advice based on my usual forage didn't make me the goat. Doubly glad for the POS that kept track of my cheese. "Says here you like... All of it?"
posted by notyou at 12:17 AM on July 5, 2015


"Also? It’s Gruh-YEHR."

No it isn't. This is a hypercorrection. Stresses in French don't work like that.
posted by howfar at 2:53 AM on July 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


The reasonable, proportionate and balanced views of GK Chesterton on the subject may also help you determine whether you wish to serve bread or crackers with your cheese:
When I had done my pilgrimage in the four wayside public-houses I reached one of the great northern cities, and there I proceeded, with great rapidity and complete inconsistency, to a large and elaborate restaurant, where I knew I could get a great many things besides bread and cheese. I could get that also, however; or at least I expected to get it; but I was sharply reminded that I had entered Babylon, and left England behind. The waiter brought me cheese, indeed, but cheese cut up into contemptibly small pieces; and it is the awful fact that instead of Christian bread, he brought me biscuits. Biscuits - to one who had eaten the cheese of four great countrysides! Biscuits - to one who had proved anew for himself the sanctity of the ancient wedding between cheese and bread! I addressed the waiter in warm and moving terms. I asked him who he was that he should put asunder those whom Humanity had joined. I asked him if he did not feel, as an artist, that a solid but yielding substance like cheese went naturally with a solid, yielding substance like bread; to eat it off biscuits is like eating it off slates. I asked him if, when he said his prayers, he was so supercilious as to pray for his daily biscuits. He gave me generally to understand that he was only obeying a custom of Modern Society. I have therefore resolved to raise my voice, not against the waiter, but against Modern Society, for this huge and unparalleled modern wrong.
posted by howfar at 3:00 AM on July 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


#7: Don’t be afraid to try something new.

Love cheese, all for encouraging cheese blogs, but flagging this one as fru fru superficial silly.
posted by sammyo at 4:35 AM on July 5, 2015


Secret #4 Bah, I dig in to the strong smelly blue first)
posted by sammyo at 4:37 AM on July 5, 2015


Cheese had been a defining backdrop to my life, due to where I live, for the past 8 years...

I'd always loved good cheese, thought I knew my chops and would happily dive into whatever novel things might be found on good UK restaurant cheese boards. Then I moved to France, specifically to just south-west of the M for Morbier on this map, and found myself in a place where cheese isn't just a passion, it's the life-blood of the whole community. Both figuratively, in that it's a major part of the local economy, and literally, in that it's the principal component of most every dish, and cradle-to-grave staple for all true Savoyards.

I had never before seen cheese treated with such reverence, nor heard it talked about with such passion. I had never been served a cheese board consisting of just a single variety of cheese, with the mild >>> strong variation coming from a range of pasture at different altitudes and different seasons of the year at which production had occured. I didn't realise how stringent the definitions of an AOC label are, or how this system has served to protect old traditions, whilst providing enough standardisation and modernisation to allow farmers to make a very healthy living by producing exceptional products in a substantially similar manner to that in which their grandparents did, on the same tracts of land.

It's a privilege to have had this experience of a widespread agricultural tradition which spans generations and truly defines a local culture. It's not something I'd previously thought much (at all) about, but I do now see it as something France can be rightly proud of, certainly in comparison to the UK where so many old products, food traditions and rural ways of life have been lost over the past couple of centuries.
posted by protorp at 6:13 AM on July 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


I probably need a cheese tattoo.

The best was people who had distinct tastes but were open to new options.


I used to be a cheese buyer for Whole Foods and I loved seeing people get excited about new cheeses! I always had an aggressive sampling program, but the corporate culture allowed me to open and sample any cheese from the case or the cooler. (This applied to all products, actually.) I even had one Dutch customer that wanted his Gouda sliced the Dutch way (slabs vs wedges, better for sandwiches) and because he was a regular customer, I kept an entire wheel in the cooler just for him. I did try only selling slabs but the people wanted their wedges.

In short, cheese people love cheese people!
posted by Room 641-A at 7:33 AM on July 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


I actually enjoy the fancy cheese. Ewephoria especially.
posted by jonmc at 8:05 AM on July 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


My wife and I have made cheese-shopping trips and specifically only purchased things which frightened us.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:43 AM on July 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Whoa. Cows domesticated us. Think about it.
posted by miyabo at 9:06 AM on July 5, 2015


^ holiday to Sardinia, perhaps?
posted by protorp at 9:07 AM on July 5, 2015


The Godwin's Law of Cheese is that any conversation about cheese will eventually include a mention of casu marzu.

I find that, in my social circle, I am usually the one to make this mention.
posted by cardioid at 9:14 AM on July 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


God, I love cheese. Thanks for this essay-- it's at an accessible but also informative level. I liked the breakdown of cheese knives. Now I want some morbier, badly.
posted by Capybara at 10:38 AM on July 5, 2015


Processed things are real things too. Is smoking gouda the "real" way not "processing" it?

It's processed in the 'required by law to be on the package label' sense, not in the 'things have been done to it' sense. It's upmarket Kraft singles masquerading as actual cheese. Which isn't to say I don't like it, especially on a burger. The point of a cheese platter is to taste actual cheese, though.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:50 AM on July 5, 2015


Thanks for this post, cheese fanatic here. For my fellow aficionados, I offer a few of my current favorite cheeses:

Humboldt Fog - a fabulous and beautiful creamy goat with a vegetable ash rind - served in a wedge, it looks like a piece of cake.

Sottocenere - a mild semi-soft Italian raw cow's milk flecked with truffles, encased in an herb and ash rind

Manachego - my go-to day-to-day cheese; Spanish sheep milk; nutty taste, solid, waxy consistency - great on any plate, even for the timid tasters

Epoisses - French soft "stinky" raw cow’s milk cheese with a bloomy rind that has been washed in brandy and has an orange color. Soft, runny, wonderful on french bread. The taste is much creamier and milder than the smell!

1916 Aged Goat - Wegman's is aging cheeses in their own caves now and offers a superb creamy goat cheese.

On my wish list: Ovalie Cendrée
posted by madamjujujive at 11:01 AM on July 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Abbot's Gold is lovely. It's basically a Cheddar with caramelized onions mixed in.

There's one from here in Ontario, can never remember the name. It's made like a Brie, but inside out--the core is firm like a Brie, and runny on the outside. Comes in a log shape. Divine.

And yes! Dubliner! Oh dear god yes.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:27 AM on July 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Because of this thread, I had Mr Ruki pick me up some Dubliner. That's my go to cheese. So thanks, MeFi!
posted by Ruki at 11:44 AM on July 5, 2015


Limburger is also very good on rye with mustard & onion.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:44 AM on July 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Limburger, liverwurst, and onion is the Permanent Bachelor Trifecta.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:51 AM on July 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


I love cheese. Left to my own devices, I can spend a significant portion of my grocery budget on cheese. When I was three years old, my parents threw a party that included among the eats an entire baby wheel of Stilton; several hours after I had ostensibly gone to bed, my dad went into the kitchen to get another bottle of wine and found me standing on my high chair (which I had pushed up to the counter) eating the Stilton out of the rind with a spoon.

My four-year-old son takes after me in his cheese tastes; the sharper and more strongly flavored, the better. My eight-year-old daughter, on the other hand, disdains all cheeses except for fresh mozzarella and the powder in Kraft macaroni and cheese. I weep.
posted by KathrynT at 12:04 PM on July 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


Fresh mozz is a gateway drug though. From there you might be able to get her to maybe ricotta...
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:10 PM on July 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Jinx, fffm! From Kenji and The Food Lab: Fresh Ricotta in five minutes or less

I made this yesterday in the microwave and it's delicious. I added some to a frittata and ate the rest straight. Next time I'd use a splash less vinegar. And take a Lactaid pill first.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:16 PM on July 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


So far attempts at both ricotta and mascarpone have failed. HOW CAN YOU NOT LIKE MASCARPONE IT'S LIKE HEAVEN ON BREAD
posted by KathrynT at 12:21 PM on July 5, 2015


bread wastes time
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:12 PM on July 5, 2015


feckless fecal fear mongering: "Limburger, liverwurst, and onion is the Permanent Bachelor Trifecta."

Welp, was never able to get Limburger, but, when I was married, we called the Liverwurst/Onion (or garlic) sandwiches "Couch" sandwiches.

Because, you know, that's where I would be sleeping that night...
posted by Samizdata at 2:56 PM on July 5, 2015


Jinx, fffm! From Kenji and The Food Lab: Fresh Ricotta in five minutes or less

[Link points to FPP on Bill Belichick Offseason Simulator] I choose to believe this is some sort of surreality rather than an error.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:50 PM on July 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


bread wastes time
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:12 PM on July 5 [+] [!]


This on a bumper sticker with a picture of cheese.
posted by Fizz at 4:09 PM on July 5, 2015 [1 favorite]




Pooh always liked a little something at eleven o'clock in the morning, and he was very glad to see Rabbit getting out the plates and mugs; and when Rabbit said, "Honey or condensed milk with your bread?" he was so excited that he said, "Both," and then, so as not to seem greedy, he added, "But don't bother about the bread, please."
Winnie-the-Pooh, A.A. Milne
posted by howfar at 4:26 PM on July 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


Well that could have been embarrassing. Here's the Ricotta recipe.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:22 PM on July 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


I just remembered a cheese thread from like 4 years ago where someone insisted that provolone was a made up fake processed american cheese like kraft singles and now I'm angry about that all over again, and also hungry.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:27 AM on July 6, 2015


Guys, guys! If you haven't already, read Cheese and Culture! It's a great, well-researched anthropologically based book about the intertwining of humanity and dairying cultures, the history of cheese, and how cheese became symbolically the body and blood of many mythologies and belief systems.

There was also a good discussion about GMOs and rennets over at io9.

Since becoming a professional cheesemaker, the art of guiding raw milk into a beautiful finished product has become to me as magical as the concept of bearing and raising children: you can control to some extent the initial ingredients and environment, but once past a certain point, the cheese takes on its own life and develops its own personality. It's a very awe-inspiring, universe-syncing experience.
posted by Queen of Spreadable Fats at 10:30 AM on July 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


1) Eponyawesome

2) do you need tasters I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:54 AM on July 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


The American Cheese Society competition and conference is being held in Lil' Rhody, Providence this year! I'll be sampling out our farm's cheeses at the Cheese Crawl! If you can't make this year's conference, join the ACS and find out about other events!!
posted by Queen of Spreadable Fats at 11:32 AM on July 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm in Toronto, so..
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:25 PM on July 6, 2015


you can still be a "cheese camp counselor" which I am sad to report does not appear to involve shepherding small cheeses around the convention and teaching them archery and volleyball.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:04 PM on July 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


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