- Luis Bunuel
We’ve got some exciting news to share. We recently added a large number of delicious varieties of cheese, many of them difficult to find locally. Some of these cheeses are made by local artisans and many are imported from countries like France, Greece, Spain, Great Britain, and elsewhere.
As you know, we have always been your source for the finest quality of commercial cheese offered by Boar’s Head, Shullsburg and others. These cheeses are ideal as complements to a sandwich or as ingredients on a pizza or in a pasta dish or quiche. This new cheese offering, on the other hand, is in an entirely different category. These cheeses are meant to stand on their own and are often complemented with a fine wine or craft beer. They make delicious side dish offerings when paired with certain meats or special cuisines. They are enjoyed as appetizers or desserts and are often served as a special treat to guests, or something you can indulge in yourself.
What is Artisan Cheese?
Cheese produced by artisans is cheese that is made in small batches with the cheese maker's very own hands. The cheese is given plenty of care and attention, unlike mass-produced cheese that comes from pushing a series of buttons on large machines. Artisans don't use artificial ingredients, flavor additives or preservatives -- just expertise, experience, and heart. They work on farms and small creameries, not massive production plants and automated factories. It is original, authentic cheese, and we are very proud to bring it to you.
The Cheese Basics
Understanding the difference between cheese that is "artisan" and cheese that is "mass-produced" is only one way to increase your knowledge of cheese. Here are three more components to understanding cheese:
We begin by categorizing fine cheese into six categories:
- Blue cheese - This classic cheese marbled with bluish-green veins that develop after the cheese is pierced and air is allowed to enter, its ranges in texture from crumbly (Stilton, Roquefort) to creamy (Gorgonzola).
- Fresh - A mild, delicate and pleasantly tangy flavor. Because it is unaged, it has no rind or surface mold.
- Bloomy Rind - Small cheeses with velvety, edible rinds ranging from downy white to golden-red in color.
- Washed Rind - With their orange to red, shiny, damp exteriors and powerful aroma, these rinds are washed repeatedly with brine, wine, beer, brandy or cider as they age to encourage the flavor producing surface ripening.
- Semi hard - Aged for several months. They generally have thick, gray rinds, and may be finished with a wax rub to cut moisture loss.
- Hard - These large cheeses are made with cooked curds, pressed firmly into forms, and aged for several months or years. They can have a solid, slightly crumbly texture, or a very dense, flaky, granular consistency.
In a future “Shout Out”, I’ll go into greater detail about each variety.
Beyond the basic cheese variety the other important factors that contribute to the popularity and taste of the cheese are the type of milk(s) used and the region where it was produced. Lots more to come on those subjects as well.
For now, let me just invite you to visit our specialty, premium cheese shop across from the deli, and on weekends be certain to try samples of the wide range of cheeses being featured. If you are a cheese novice, no problem. Ask questions and try everything until you hone in on your favorites. If you are a cheese aficionado, welcome; and please share your comments and requests for anything special that you have a taste for. If you have a preferred cheese that we don’t carry, whisper in our ear and we will do our best to add it to our offering.
Till next time,