Venezuelan Beaver Cheese
May 8, 2003 12:34 PM   Subscribe

The quest for Venezuelan Beaver Cheese "Monty Python's Cheese Shop sketch lists 44 varieties of cheese. It is my goal to try them all and post here what I think of each of them. I began this quest August 10th, 1997."
posted by y6y6y6 (73 comments total)
That's an excellent goal. But one that should be carried out by a person with more discerning tastes. Many of the cheeses that this person hates are actually quite delicious, and even more so when paired properly with wine, fruit, the appropriate bread or cracker, etc.
posted by padraigin at 12:40 PM on May 8, 2003

in high school we had an exchange student from venezuela and EVERYONE wanted a sample.
posted by quonsar at 12:43 PM on May 8, 2003

Also seems to have given up a few years ago. I'm motivated to recreate the quest. I'm planning on doing a version with photos, user comments, links to info about each cheese and possible user submissions.

quonsar - So it exists? Google says no. I've been thinking about a vacation in Venezuela.
posted by y6y6y6 at 12:45 PM on May 8, 2003

No. You cannot claim that people are less cultured for not liking Camembert and Limburger. For to us, it is an alien artifact. Trying to put it in the "food" category of our minds is very hard work. I'd rather eat my own sick.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 12:46 PM on May 8, 2003

y6, I'm going to be generous and assume you're playing along with quonsar there.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 12:47 PM on May 8, 2003

No Wendsleydale?
posted by jpburns at 12:50 PM on May 8, 2003

Pretty_Generic - Dude. It's a *quest*. You don't just give up. Somewhere, somehow, Venezuelan Beaver Cheese must be sold. If it was easy to find that would take all the fun out of it.

Plus...... my blog is getting more and more boring lately. Clam dip? Bush bashing? Yawn. I need to find something worth reading. Or make up something worth reading.
posted by y6y6y6 at 12:51 PM on May 8, 2003

Oh, I don't think that everyone's less cultured for not liking certain cheeses...but I will point out that this particular person has an appreciation for cheddar and boursin, but not for real parmesan. That's just weak.

My current favorite cheese is goat gouda. So much different from the usual yellow cheese in red wax that one gets with one's Hickory Farms sampler.
posted by padraigin at 12:52 PM on May 8, 2003

Yes, Wensleydale.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:52 PM on May 8, 2003

I don't think the reviews have much merit, since how can you rate Gouda +2 and Edam -1? Unless one was aged or smoked, they're rather close to the same thing, and It seems like both were fresh varities.

Besides, many of the other ones, like Sage Derby and Tilsit are pretty commonly available. (without exchange students)
posted by stryder at 12:54 PM on May 8, 2003

Many of the cheeses that this person hates are actually quite delicious

Yes, it is indeed possible for a cheese to be objectively delicious. There is no personal preference at all involved in judging the flavor of cheese.
posted by kindall at 12:55 PM on May 8, 2003

I agree with padraigin, though--seems odd that someone who, apparently, doesn't really even like cheese is doing this. "Rotten" cheeses? Sheesh.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:56 PM on May 8, 2003

I spent a weekend camping in Wisconsin, and ate more cheese than any person should in three days. Though we camped most of the day, we took excursions into the countryside to sample the local cheeses and wines. And I tried the limburger. Goddess help me, I tried it.

Don't do it. Take my word.

But every other cheese I've ever had is splendid. Especially feta, that which will forever keep me from going vegan . . . mmmmmm, feta.
posted by tr33hggr at 12:56 PM on May 8, 2003

I can't believe none of you have mentioned Kamchatkan Bat Cheese.

Personally I love Orca cheese. Great plankton flavour.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 12:57 PM on May 8, 2003

Pretty_Generic - Dude. It's a *quest*. You don't just give up. Somewhere, somehow, Venezuelan Beaver Cheese must be sold. If it was easy to find that would take all the fun out of it.

PG, give it up for a lost cause.
posted by quonsar at 12:57 PM on May 8, 2003

Not on the list, but Tet de Moine is my favorite foul-smelling cheese. I first tried it in Switzerland, and I buy it once in a while here in the U.S. I have a great love-hate relationship with it: I love the taste, and I hate the smell. The smell is more like Cul de Moine...
posted by letitrain at 12:58 PM on May 8, 2003

That's exactly what I mean, mrmoonpie: why take on a foodie quest if you're not a foodie?

Gruyere rotten? Meh?
posted by padraigin at 12:59 PM on May 8, 2003

I think it's less of a foodie quest and more of a Monty Python fan quest.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:03 PM on May 8, 2003

y6y6y6 - according to this page beavers are distributed throughout NA, so assuming one could milk a beaver, it is entirely possible to produce beaver's milk cheese. The milk is quite thick and yellowish apparently. Add rennet and salt, and away you go, I suppose...
posted by FiveFrozenFish at 1:04 PM on May 8, 2003

Actually, as someone who likes very few cheeses, I really value this critic's recommendations. I like the "easy" cheeses, but if there's a cheese that someone doesn't like, chances are I won't like it either. Heck, I don't like Swiss.
posted by Songdog at 1:08 PM on May 8, 2003

Mr. MoonPie:

It was a joke.
posted by jpburns at 1:10 PM on May 8, 2003

ah, I used to listen to "matching tie and handkerchief" constantly as a child, until a friend made off with it.

some friends from provence absolutely adore a cheese that looks rather like brie, but tastes (to me) like ammonia. they're just as happy not to share.

best cheese ever: fresh buffalo mozzarella in siena.
posted by dorian at 1:10 PM on May 8, 2003

By golly, I'm committing myself to doing this right. I freaking love me some cheese.
posted by padraigin at 1:11 PM on May 8, 2003

But Songdog, you presumably wouldn't go on a quest to try every one of a bunch of (frequently smelly) cheeses, would you?

I agree with padraigin and MrMoonPie: this person has no discernment. It's not a matter of liking or not liking this particular cheese, it's a matter of paying attention and making distinctions more subtle than "Like!" "No like!" I eagerly await y6y6y6's account. On preview: and padraigin's.
posted by languagehat at 1:16 PM on May 8, 2003

I can't stand "Swiss" either, but emmenthaler cheeses are somehow different enough that I like them quite a lot. I was surprised the day I found that out.

in the fridge right now: smoked gouda, edam, blarney castle, monterey jack. cheese be good.

I may have to give the quest a try too...probably got half done already but it's no good not to start from the beginning.
posted by dorian at 1:16 PM on May 8, 2003

Clam dip. Bush bashing. Beaver cheese.

I'd say y6y6y6 has a different fetish than we're giving him credit for.
posted by briank at 1:16 PM on May 8, 2003

I haven't found a cheese I would not eat, but the amount tends to depend on how strong the cheese happens to be. That said, I can eat a ball of Edam without blinking, so gauge it from there.

As for this person, who reflections on the cheeses she has tried put her to my mind as a "mild cheese" person, more power to her. But I think she's already failed her quest as she admitted to refusing to taste the Limberger.
posted by linux at 1:19 PM on May 8, 2003

I'm curious Songdog, do you like strong flavors in other foods? I know a few people that just don't have tolerance for hot or strong flavors from foods such as peppers, garlic, wasabi, espresso, etc. Is it just cheese that you like plain?
posted by letitrain at 1:20 PM on May 8, 2003

OT: oy, padraigin...dean-n-deluca sells those pellegrino sodas (rosa, pompelmo, arancia, etc.) but the price is truly outrageous. guess I will stick with buying sour oranges and soda water.
posted by dorian at 1:20 PM on May 8, 2003

If your Limburger tastes like Lysol it's ammoniated and you can take it back. It's not supposed to taste that way but it gets that way if it's too old or not packaged right or something.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:21 PM on May 8, 2003

My love of feta cheese knows no bounds....

The incredibly non-vegan-but-still-vegetarian Greek Omlette I love to make is just eggs, spinach, and feta. Maybe some tomato if I have any lying around. When I was in Greece, they always put french fries in the omlettes, which was cool and all while I was in Greece, but something I never got into myself.
posted by kaibutsu at 1:29 PM on May 8, 2003

OT: ooh, dorian, thanks. I can only seem to find the limonata and aranciata around here, but perhaps on my next trip to NYC (or Italy, for that matter, and equally likely to happen), I can check out the others. The blood orange, especially, calls my name.

My cheese quest will begin soon, and I'll start a cheeseblog on my home page, which is listed on my profile.
posted by padraigin at 1:29 PM on May 8, 2003

put her to my mind as a "mild cheese" person

And yet here's her opinion of brie:

I found that Brie had very little taste. It was white and creamy and that was about it. I can't really say anything good or bad about it.
posted by ursus_comiter at 1:34 PM on May 8, 2003

If you're a blue cheese person, try Old Chatham Blue Ewe. Some batches are *far* inferior to others, but the best batches kick so much ass it's ridiculous.

...has anyone had fleur de maquis? It looks almost scary, which probably means it's fantastic.
posted by aramaic at 1:36 PM on May 8, 2003

I found that Brie had very little taste. It was white and creamy and that was about it. I can't really say anything good or bad about it.

Might have been bad brie. I've had some on occassion that was relatively flavorless.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:37 PM on May 8, 2003

padraigin, I love goat gouda cheese too - yum!

Also try Drunken Goat - a bit stronger; and for rather stronger goat varieties, try Midnight Moon Goat, shaved very thin, or the exquisite Vare Goat from Spain; also good from Spain - Manchego, but that is 100% sheep, so it doesn't have that goat taste going for it - I find it milder, but still good.

Goat cheese is replacing chocolate in my llife.
posted by madamjujujive at 1:39 PM on May 8, 2003

The best cheese I've ever had was a Basque-region brebis. I ate it every day for a month while I was in France, along with that other good French-Basque cooking.

I gained a few pounds that month.
posted by The Michael The at 1:51 PM on May 8, 2003

madamjujujive, I just saw Drunken Goat for the first time on a rare trip to Whole Foods. Now I'm damned if I don't go back there and get some.
posted by padraigin at 2:08 PM on May 8, 2003

I can't see that it's much of a quest when all the real varieties of cheese mentioned are available in pretty much any decent supermarket in a major town here in the UK.
posted by Joeforking at 2:12 PM on May 8, 2003

It's Thursday, which means Stinky Cheese Night at chez MoonPie. The g/f will be gone to class, which means I'll break out the "rotten" blue stuff obtained from Trader Joe's and revel in the intensity. Maybe I'll open that bottle of Port while I'm at it.
mmmmmmm.......stinky cheese......
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:16 PM on May 8, 2003

In regard to the brie being bland, I'm guessing the intrepid taster ate it straight from the fridge. Brie that hasn't been brought to room temperature tends to be pretty bland.

Also, kaibutsu: your mention of french fries in the omlettes in Greece brings to mind a memory of a semester I spent in Paris a few years back. One of the cheapest meals in Paris (and that was an important consideration for me when I was there) can be found in a little alley in the Latin quarter where several small Greek restaurants serve delicious gyros--with, if you so desire, a generous helping of fries stuffed onto the sandwich. Is this something the Greeks are doing with a lot of their foods these days?
posted by Acetylene at 2:25 PM on May 8, 2003

Suffering from the worst hangover I've ever had in my life, I flew from Istanbul to Ankara on THY (Turkish Death Airways -- motto: we use only the freshest tree bark for our toilet paper). Seeing my misery, the flight attendant gave me a goat cheese sandwich. I managed to blot that horror from my memory until now. Curse you, MJJJ.
posted by joaquim at 2:36 PM on May 8, 2003

For fans of the goaty, I must recommend Humboldt Fog (about halfway down this page). Really strong and full-bodied, with a brie-like texture. So good with a nice bottle of red wine.

Also, my brother-in-law once told me a tale of a cheese purchased during a sailing trip in France. The cheese was brought back on board, and proved so noxious that it had to be lobbed over the side.

The only cheese that I have ever had that I couldn't see eye to eye with was Raclette, but I think my particular slab may have gone off or something. Oh and Swiss cheese, which for some reason hurts the roof of my mouth.
posted by Kafkaesque at 3:03 PM on May 8, 2003

Goat cheese is replacing chocolate in my llife.

juju, my love, i confess i feared a hygiene problem. forgive me.
posted by quonsar at 3:06 PM on May 8, 2003

Here is a nice piece on American artisanal cheeses from Organic Style magazine, for the interested.

Kafka, they do mention Humboldt Fog as a favorite. And I myself can speak for the Cowgirl Creamery cheeses.
posted by padraigin at 3:07 PM on May 8, 2003

Acetylene: My perception (since they always asked if I wanted "potatoes") is that deep-fried potato-sticks are a cheap and easy alternative to chopping and cooking regular potatoes.

And to stay vaguely on topic, cheese fries are really yummy. And so is the Brie and Camembert you can buy really cheap in the Hungarian grocery stores; tastes great in pasta sauce.
posted by kaibutsu at 3:15 PM on May 8, 2003

In my fridge right now:
Bierkäse, Dolcelatte, Petit Nectar, Cappriola, Oro Del Temp, Fontina and Manchego.

That's one of my favorite things about living in Europe. One block from my apartment, there's a gourmet grocer with an excellent rotating selection of fine, fresh cheeses.

If you're buying the mass-produced stuff (Kraft, etc.), you're missing out on the real thing.

I'm headed to South America on vacation in a week and a half. I'll keep my eyes peeled for Venezuelan beaver cheese.
posted by syzygy at 3:17 PM on May 8, 2003

Blood orange soda? I'm fond of the Pellegrino aranciata, and I'll have to keep my eyes open for the others, or maybe stop into a D&D. Off topic: has anyone seen Orangina "Rouge" for sale in the US (especially in or around NYC)? I first encountered it in Chartres of all places, and it's really good. Think Orangina with guarana (incl. caffeine).

languagehat - No, I probably wouldn't set myself this task. While I might eventually try all of these cheeses, I doubt I'd enjoy enough of them to make it a pleasurable or worthwhile experience. And unlike some other things that I might find difficult to appreciate, cheese at least isn't especially good for me.

dorian - I ought to try emmenthaler. I don't like jarlsberg or what's sold as Swiss (although I confess I've liked the latter in Cuban sandwiches, which was a big surprise). The thing is, the cheeses I do like, I really like, including jack cheeses of various sorts, all kinds of cheddars, fresh parmesan, and havarti. I tend not to like soft, runny, or moldy cheeses, and I don't like the Scandinavian goat cheeses that my father loves. I ought to give brie another try, though.

letitrain - I love strong flavors, including garlic, ginger, horseradish, curries, chilis, cayenne pepper. I adore espresso and strong coffees (just ask languagehat). I don't like food that causes pain, but I certainly don't stick to the bland stuff.

joaquim - I was on THY many many years ago. Do they still serve cherry juice to everyone? That's all I remember.

In summary, I'm more of a chowhound than a foodie.
posted by Songdog at 3:18 PM on May 8, 2003

also good from Spain - Manchego

I second that one. Also, Parrano Originale is a good cheese that's started showing up in U.S. stores. Parrano is a brand name for a line of Italian foods made by a Dutch company, which sounds like a recipe for disaster, but this cheese is great - like a cross between gouda and parmesan.

They also have one of those slogans where you suspect something was lost in the translation: "Sort of Italian"
posted by pitchblende at 3:19 PM on May 8, 2003

Although not as stinky as most of the cheeses that I love, Pave D'Affinois is probably my favorite.

Its very very creamy and mild, and is unbelievably good on some crusty bread.
posted by bshort at 3:22 PM on May 8, 2003

Clearly not the must culinarily intrepid soul on the planet. Roquefort is fantastic.

And y6: if you find an online supplier for that Venezuelan stuff, I'm sure we'd all appreciate a new FPP!

posted by cell at 3:23 PM on May 8, 2003

Lots of people mentioned goat cheese, but I don't see any references to yedost? (Okay, I can't find the correct spelling, but that's approximately it phonetically). It's a brown incredibly creamy caramel-ish goat cheese that is absolutely sinful. Perfect with apples or pears. And I don't even like cheese in general!
posted by synapse at 3:38 PM on May 8, 2003

Next time you make enchiladas, replace about one-third of the cheese you'd normally use with gruyere. It's amazing.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:53 PM on May 8, 2003

synapse: That's gjetost. If we're talking Norwegian cheeses, though, I'll take Jarlsberg.
posted by languagehat at 4:05 PM on May 8, 2003

"I haven't found a cheese I would not eat..."

Snack on.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:21 PM on May 8, 2003

I second that one. Also, Parrano Originale is a good cheese that's started showing up in U.S. stores.

Forget the cheese. I want to know whats going on in that photo on their front page.
posted by vacapinta at 4:32 PM on May 8, 2003

All that cheese and no surrender monkeys?
posted by rdone at 4:51 PM on May 8, 2003

languagehat - thanks. Honestly never would have come up with that spelling!
posted by synapse at 5:15 PM on May 8, 2003

vacapinta, it becomes a little more obvious when you see the full image.

Still a little...unsettling, though.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:42 PM on May 8, 2003

There are three rotating images on the Parrano home page. And they just became my favorite cheese company.
posted by modofo at 6:28 PM on May 8, 2003

I like the one with the couple making love on the cheese board, but I don't get the one with the wine spilling. Or is that a bottle of Miller?
posted by y6y6y6 at 7:09 PM on May 8, 2003

Not a fan of Chaume, but I've tried and enjoyed Morbier, Comté (hard to find Franc-Comtois cheeses in my neck of the woods, and they're always inferior to the real thing or obscenely expensive or both), Oka (which is local), Bocconcini and Cacciocavallo (a nice Italian cheese I use in cooking). Roquefort is a bit strong in a cheese-equivalent-of-wasabi sort of way.
posted by mcwetboy at 7:37 PM on May 8, 2003

I wasn't into Feta until I tried Valbreso Feta cheese, and now I have some just about every day of the week. It's great on toast, salads, pizza, and especially spaghetti.
posted by Devils Slide at 8:43 PM on May 8, 2003

I don't know. If I was gonna rate cheese I would have separate rating for raw flavor opposed melted taste. I find there is quite a difference between the two.
posted by Lex Tangible at 8:48 PM on May 8, 2003

I totally agree Lex Tangible. I have some friends that wouldn't go near either feta or goat cheese if served with crackers or on salads, but who love them in cooked dishes, omelets or baked on breads or pizzas. They taste quite different when cooked.
posted by madamjujujive at 9:01 PM on May 8, 2003


You know, I have to take a 30 minute subway ride to buy any kind of cheese, and then it's only the most bogstandard plasticky cheddar.

Ah well, at least the beer is cheap.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:18 AM on May 9, 2003

I think the Greeks use the deep-fried potato sticks as a cheap/ easy substitute for chopped potatoes, as they always asked if I wanted 'potatoes' in the omlette.

To keep vaguely on topic, cheese fries are super yummy.
posted by kaibutsu at 2:47 AM on May 9, 2003

Parrano was the first non-generic cheese my daughter liked; I'm hoping to expand her horizons, though. Trader Joe's carries it. Since I'm sure you're all wondering how Stinky Cheese Night went, I'm happy to report I imbibed a fair amount of French Bleu, and my g/f and I baked a small-ish brie and a head of garlic, all of it served with a lovely sourdough baguette I picked up from Firehook on my walk home. Delightful.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:57 AM on May 9, 2003

oh poor stavros! Maybe you should look into one of those gourmet cheese of the month clubs - don't know if they ship internationally tho, and they are a bit pricey too!

This place in PA with the unlikely name of the Pennsylvania Macaroni Company looks like it has great prices and a wide array of cheeses & other products - maybe they would do a special shipment? I am wowed by the prices - less than half what I pay for some of my Spanish goat cheese faves - I may try an order here!
posted by madamjujujive at 1:45 PM on May 9, 2003

Kafka - Raclette is meant to be melted, which is probably why you didn't like it. There's a whole thing where you scrape it onto a plate and heat it. Or make fondue.

One I've been searching for, except of course I forgot the name, was an amazing chevre with truffles that I had once at Artisanal, this place in New York with an all-cheese menu. While I can find sheep's cheese with truffles at Fresh Fields/Whole Foods/Bread and Circuses/whatever they call it in your town, not the truffled goat cheese.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:45 AM on May 10, 2003


I can't believe that you include Bread and Circuses in a list that also includes Fresh Fields. That is an insult to a fine institution for which you should be ashamed.
posted by syzygy at 12:03 PM on May 10, 2003

Erm, okay so I mispelled it, it's been a while since I lived in Boston but it's all the same company, right? With a great cheese dept.
posted by CunningLinguist at 2:54 PM on May 10, 2003


My comment was 100% joke.
posted by syzygy at 9:37 AM on May 11, 2003

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