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Answers #9 [May. 1st, 2006|11:03 pm]
[Current Mood |cheesy!]

This is an answer to my Ask Me Anything post. Add any new questions over there.

What about cheese?

Well, what do I think about cheese? Yummy. Essential rat snack.

Cheese is great stuff. It's a dense source of protein and calcium. (As well as saturated fats, so don't overindulge.) Cheese is also thought to be one of the oldest forms of preserved food; it allowed milk to be stored and transported effectively back in ancient times.

Most people in this country generally only eat cheese made from pasteurized cow milk. But goat, sheep, and other mammals can result in cheeses with distinctively different flavors. With a little tasting experience, you can pretty reliably identify the animal used to produce the cheese. Pasteurization is mostly a safety concern, but it does limit some of the flavors; personally, I think it's a worthwhile tradeoff.

So what's my favorite cheese? I'm almost sorry to say that it's not some exotic tiny-south-of-France-farm-village specialty. My favorite cheese is cheddar.

But there are actually many kinds of cheddar; I wouldn't want you to think that the slices of generic pseudo-cheddar in the grocery store are the limits of this fine family. The term "cheddar" itself refers to the pressing which removes a great deal of the water content. (The term is derived from the English town of Cheddar where this was widely used by the cheesemakers.)

Fine cheddars have a complex and sharp flavor, and distinctive aftertaste, without becoming either too sour or too pungent. The texture should be firm, sometimes almost crumbly. Handling and aging is important to develop the flavor and character of a cheddar, which is why the mass-produced cheddars really don't "stack up" (a little cheese pun, there). Something like an aged farmhouse cheddar, with just a hint of smokiness, can be a real thing of beauty.

My tip would be to always keep a few high-quality cheeses in the fridge. They make good snacks! More aged and refined cheeses often have more complex and strident flavors; you'll tend to eat them more slowly, since the taste is stronger in the mouth. This makes less cheese go farther when you're gnawing your way through a block of cheddar while watching a movie... (Uh, yeah, I actually do that. Maybe I've said too much?)

[User Picture]From: twigmouse
2006-05-02 06:57 am (UTC)
Mmmmm, cheddar. I'm the same way. Infact, I was just talking to my co-workers about it. I really like cheese, but I'm a fan of 'everyday' cheeses. Esspecially Cheddar. If you haven't make it to the Tillamook Cheese Factory I suggest you put it on your next itinerary to the area. It's quite mouthwatering to see so much cheese in one place. Plus, they have free samples and day-old cheese curds available for purchase. Hmm, a rodent fur group trip to that place might have to be arranged ;-)
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2006-05-02 04:13 pm (UTC)
Mmmmm, yes. Last time we were driving on the Oregon coast, I insisted that we make that a stopping point. The factory tour is great (and they sell wonderful grilled cheese sandwiches in the cafe).
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[User Picture]From: marko_the_rat
2006-05-02 08:45 am (UTC)
Edam! I love edam!
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2006-05-02 04:16 pm (UTC)
Edam has a firm texture, which I like, plus a pleasant, mild, sometimes almost nutty, flavor. A fine choice, I would agree!
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[User Picture]From: gilmorelion
2006-05-02 02:22 pm (UTC)
If you can find it, try Old Amsterdam Sharp White Cheddar. I developed a taste for it in Germany. It's REALLY good!

Cheddar is the bestest!
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2006-05-02 04:16 pm (UTC)
I don't believe I've tried it, but I shall certainly try to locate it. Thanks for the recommendation!
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[User Picture]From: ladycrim
2006-05-02 07:11 pm (UTC)
Cheddar's my favorite snacking cheese (Tillamook sharp - yum), although I enjoy Swiss with my sandwiches.
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[User Picture]From: furahi
2006-05-02 09:42 pm (UTC)
I think it's sad that I don't know the name of my favorite cheese -.-

I had it when I went to Germany for the last time in 1999; I was having dinner with relatives, whose dinners always consisted of meat, bread (usually dark) and cheese. It wasn't as monotonous as it may sound, since they had a ton of varieties of each.

There was this weird cheese cylinder with I think a brown (or just dark) wrapping. On top of it they stuck a sort of knive with a pivot in the center that allowed you to rotate the knive creating very very thin slices (layers?) of cheese, they were see-through-thin.

I first tried it because the slicing tool seemed novel, and immediatly hated it. I put the rest of my slice (layer?) away and said I Wouldn't eat any more of that, but it's a sneaky cheese. Its taste is so strong that it's natural it makes you cringe at first, like it did me. I don't think I'd ever had such a strong cheese ever. After a few moments, however; the real flavor kicks in and you can't but help yourself to more. I think it was almost the only cheese I had during dinner from that day forward. It is great. The layers are so thin because the flavor is so strong, but in my case after I got used to it I remember myself applying pressure to the slicing tool to get slightly thicker slices.

Other than that... well, I love Oaxaca cheese , a stringy Mexican cheese. I also like Gouda, Manchego and Dutch (Holland? not sure of the name in English) cheeses.
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[User Picture]From: porsupah
2006-05-03 04:58 am (UTC)
Do you frequent Whole Paycheck Markets? Their cheese selections are always inspiring, even if not cheap - you'll find some extraordinarily yumptious offerings, such as a cave-aged gouda, a world apart from the usual stuff. And there's an actual cheese shop somewhere around Frederick & Cole, in the Upper Haight, just as you leave the tunnel on the N line - very convenient. ^_^ I haven't visited it yet, though - I only discovered it towards the end of the last contract, unfortunately, when they were already closed for the day.

And then there's generic Austrian smoked cheese, which goes really nicely with various sliced meats, including hot pepperoni. And the marvels that can come of goat's milk! Everything from fluffily soft spreadable fresh cheeses, to firm, aged varieties, with that special tanginess the milk provides.

Irish cheddars can be well worth a try, too - particularly creamy, without sacrificing strength of flavor. Of the West Country cheddars with widespread availability (rather than only locally), Davidstow's a pretty good choice, and Pilgrim's Choice is pretty reliable as well, similar to Tillamook's better ones.

Hm. Thought of holding a cheese party sometime? ^_^ (Meats welcome too, one would hope =:)
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