Thursday, December 18, 2008

Havarti with Jalapeno

Yes.... I usually do this blog about "gourmet" cheeses, but guess what? I found a cheese that tastes like gourmet but is accessible to everyone.

Boar's Head Brand Havarti with Jalapeno. Its number 25 of 28 cheeses in the digital deli case.

I purchased this cheese in the deli of my local Kroger Grocery Store. If you are lucky your grocery store will also carry this brand. I love Havarti anyway... but I'd never had it with jalapeno peppers. This stuff is way better than any Pepper Jack I ever had! Seriously. If you like pepper jack cheese, you will LOVE this stuff!

The low down:
I purchased one third pound of this cheese for $9.89 per pound. My total cost was $3.07 and since I asked the deli lady to slice it pretty thin, I got about 10 slices. Hubby and I really liked this one. It went first before the Swiss and the Provolone.

I highly recommend this cheese. The peppers DID have a bit of a bite, but the sting was balanced by the smooth, creaminess of the Havarti. I am planning on getting at least a half pound of it next time I am at Kroger. This cheese is suitable as a sandwich cheese, with dried meats and fresh veggies or just to eat "as is". Put this out on your cheese tray at your Holiday party. Everyone is sure to enjoy it!

Speaking of Holiday parties... I had a wonderful idea the other day...

Instead of having another "Cookie Exchange" at the office or with your "coffee clatch", why not have a "Cheese Tasting Party"? Everyone can bring a bit of their favorite cheese and some crackers, or veggies/fruits, or a loaf of crusty bread. Sounds like a lot of fun, eh? Way more than a bunch of cookies, which a lot of people cheat on and bring store bought ones anyway. Or the Nabisco refrigerator tube kind. Ick.

Anyway... lots to do, tis the season to be busy... Falalalala la la la la...

I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New year.

No matter what your beliefs, we could all use a little more "Peace on Earth, good will toward men."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Gorgonzola and Steak

Just for you, Pam. I'm sorry I can't tell you what dairy this came from because hubby threw out the wrapper before I could write down the name. But I did get some nice photos of the cheese itself, so thought I would share them with you. This cheese is Gorgonzola Dolce, which is a Northern Italian cheese. A young blue as opposed to the regular, aged Gorgonzola. It was rather creamy of texture with not so pungent of an aroma as the usual blue we get, which is most always Maytag.
I think you would like this one, my friend. I put it on my steak and on my baked potato and it was truly yummy. Here's the pics.

What a pretty cheese. I really liked this one.

Before the melting:

After the melting:

Can't you just smell it??? That was a super supper. Too bad I only got a little bit. There was just enough for both of us to have some on our steak and tater and then it was all gone. Boohoo... will be getting more of this stuff. Really terrific. I recommend this type cheese to anyone who likes blue cheese. I think even the casual eater of blue cheese would love this one. For one thing, it isn't quite as over-powering as the more aged varieties. Those with a sensitive nose will appreciate this one. It was well worth the cost.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Georgia Gouda Cheese

The next cheese from my most recent Earth Fare excursion is a "local" Georgia cheese. It comes from Sweetgrass Dairy in Thomasville, GA. That's it, on the right in the picture below. Or the upper left in the picture above. A lovely, NAY! A beautiful, cheese.

This beautiful cheese has a few small holes throughout. The aroma is mildly piquant. Appetizing, not off putting in the least. The texture is soft, yet a little dry, not sticky. Slices easily. The rind is chalky white, not too thick.

I tried this cheese along with the Mayenburg Goat Jack and the fresh tomato and the bacon. I enjoyed this one much more than the Goat Jack. The cheese is a lovely creamy yellow color. The taste resembles the familiar Gouda I am used to, a young, very mild one. There is also a hint of sharp cheddar here too. I have also tried this one with some fresh red grapes and it goes very nicely. Pete also loved this cheese. I think it is one of his favorites, so far.

If you can find this cheese, please try it. I think most any cheese lover will like it, and anyone would find it inoffensive. I think it would be good melted on things too. Should make a good grilled cheese sandwich. Or a nice cheese sauce over broccoli or some other vegetable.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Meyenberg Goat Cheese Jack - Smoked

Went to Earth Fare last weekend. I picked up four (count em - 4) different cheeses. The first one I am going to review is the Meyenberg Goat Milk Jack Cheese.

Pleasant aroma. I smell more of the smokiness than the cheesiness. I like that smoky smell. Makes my mouth water.

The texture is more dry than regular, cow's milk Jack. I sampled this cheese with home-grown tomato, low sugar, low sodium bacon and a local Gouda cheese. This was my breakfast. The cheese slices in the middle of the plate are the Goat Jack slices.

The taste at first is somewhat Jack-like. Then comes a "musty" flavor that will take some getting used to. I guess it is just the "goatiness" of it. But I have trouble with that every time I first taste most goat cheeses. The funny thing is that I love Feta Cheese. It's one of my most favorite cheeses and I don't find it musty tasting at all. This cheese, however, is. Not really strongly musty, but I notice it.

My overall impression: I most likely won't purchase this cheese again just because of the price, $19.99 per pound. There are cheaper cheeses out there that I enjoy more. If the price were cheaper I would possibly buy it again.

Would I recommend it? Probably not.

I like a sharper, more piquant cheese. Many cheese lovers might like this one and I'm certainly not saying you shouldn't buy it. I just think there are better ones out there. I don't have anything BAD to say about it - it just isn't something I would RAVE about. Not sorry I tried it. But will save my money next time and get something that makes me go WOW!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Non-fat Mozzarella Cheese

Okay, this is the set-up:

I was at the Kroger the other day, and I was in a hurry. I had a dentist appointment that I didn't want to be late for. So... I'm in a hurry, I don't have my glasses on (and are therefore nearly blind) and I see that the already shredded store brand mozzarella cheese is on sale. So I think, "Why not?" I mean, I already use their brand of block cheese and it's fine. So I picked up 3 packages of the stuff and I hurry home to put away the food before I rush off to the dentist. Then, a couple of days later I make a couple of quickie tortilla pizzas for Thomas and myself for lunch. And I see on the package that it says "Non-fat cheese". But I wasn't worried, how bad could it be?

Turns out folks that it is very bad indeed. The stuff doesn't melt like mozzarella cheese, it doesn't taste like mozzarella cheese and it doesn't smell like mozzarella cheese. I'm not really sure what it is, but my friends, it ain't cheese. It's some kind of weird, space-age technology, petroleum by-product, plastic, pretend food that I don't understand. And I don't want to understand it. It was nasty. Let me repeat myself: IT WAS NOT CHEESE. Avoid at all costs, people. I don't even think your body can digest it. It probably passes right thru entire, like when I was little and the dog ate one of my plastic army men (I was a strange girl child, what can I say) and it came out the other end and we found it in the yard many weeks later. Must have hurt like hell, but the dog didn't seem to take any lasting harm from it. Lived many more years thereafter. I have hopes that I will too, after ingesting this stuff.

Bottom line:
Price: cheap when on sale.
Would I buy this again? No, no, no. Hell NO!
Would I serve this to my friends? Nope, not even to my enemies, probably.
Would I recommend it? I would recommend that they stop calling this stuff "cheese" and I would recommend that they stop selling it as a "food" item. Other than that? Absolutely not.

I have decided that I will, in the future, limit my cheese health-o-meter to cheddar made with 2% milk. That's about as healthy as I'm willing to go with my cheese. I might have to cut the fat in my diet in other places and I might consider not eating as much but dammit! I ain't messing with the cheese no more! Its gonna be REAL cheese or nothing from now on, for this girl and her family. I'm not even sure something as fake as that stuff was is good for you anyway. It can't be.

End of this cheese story.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Mexican Queso Cheese

Okay, here's my "Doh" moment. Why didn't anyone ever tell me this stuff is so good?! I don't know why I never bought any before. I mean, we eat at Mexican/Southwest/Tex-Mex restaurants all the time. And I love the stuff when I have it there. Why didn't I ever think to buy any of it for home consumption? This stuff is great! Wonderful! Beautiful! Perfect! Shall I go on? I think not, but you get the idea, right?

Having somewhat the texture of aged mozzerella. The taste begins like a super mild, milky cheddar; progresses thru sharp cheddar; and ends on an extra sharp note. It isn't quite as piquant as extra sharp cheddar would be tho. And the way it melts. How marvelous! Takes just the least little bit of heat for it to melt beautifully. It gets all stringy and goopy and fun to play with. I love this stuff.

Will I be purchasing this type of cheese again? You betcha!
Would I serve it to my friends? Every one of them.
Do I recommend this cheese to any and all cheese lovers? I do, I do, I do...

Mexican Queso cheese is a wonderful invention. I have no clue if it is "authentic" Mexican or another American thing, but I don't care. It's yummy and I plan to keep right on purchasing it and enjoying it. I hope you will too.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Monti Trentini Smoked Provolone

Oh my goodness! The aroma of this cheese is so beautiful. It smells so good, just the scent makes me feel like I'm starving. It's a really, really appetizing smell.

It's quite firm, somewhat dry, not crumbly. The cheese has tiny little holes throughout. Slices easily. Now for the first taste...

Wow! That's wonderful! Every bit as good as it smells. Milky, with an over-lying smoke flavor. Tasted it alone and was thrilled. Put some on a Hazelnut rice cracker... yummy. This cheese is great all by itself. I think it would also be good with pretty much anything. Fruits, veggies, pickles, dried meats... I have to try this in a Panini. Bet it would be terrific melted onto a nice thick slab of whole grain Italian bread, too.

Price per pound: $14.99
I purchased: .53 pound
Total price: $7.94

The price was perhaps a little more than your average grocery shopper might want to spend on a slab of cheese. However, it wasn't as high as some I've purchased. And my personal opinion is that it is worth every single penny. This is a truly enjoyable cheese. I would recommend it to any cheese lover (wish you could taste this Pam). Would not hesitate to put it out on a cheese platter for everyone else, too. What a lovely, lovely cheese. Appetizing aroma, looks and out-standing flavor. I'm quite pleased with this purchase. So happy that I decided to go ahead and buy it. I almost put it back but the scent wouldn't let me.

I hope you will all make an effort to try this cheese. It's fabulous.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Gouda - Aged 2 years and 3 years

I truly did enjoy these cheeses. Unfortunately, I took them with me to Florida last weekend and shared them with Tina. So... I don't have the wrappers. I can't tell you what the price was on these, I think it was $17.99/lb. and $19.99/lb. I won't swear to it, but I think that's what it was.

I enjoyed these two much better than I did the aged 1 year Gouda. These didn't seem to have as much of a musty smell as it did. They weren't quite as pungent either. Very nice cheeses. For someone who likes a good, assertive flavor in their cheese, these will do very nicely. You should have seen Tina's eyes light up when she had her first taste. I don't remember which one she had first, but she was smiling while she ate them both.

Gouda - Aged 2 Years

The two year cheese was not noticeably different in texture to the 1 year Gouda. As mentioned above tho, the odor was not quite as musty. I first tried this cheese with a Cameo apple and whole wheat crackers. It was delicious, very enjoyable. The next time I tried it grated on a baked potato. Just as nice... a very versatile cheese. Tasty eaten cold, room temp and warm. Good with sweet foods, and savory foods. All around a good experience.

Gouda - Aged 3 Years

The 3 year Gouda was not much different from the 2 year. Not sure I would pay the extra just to say I had the 3 year variety. It was somewhat harder and had a bit more crystals in it. I enjoyed this very much grated over my salad. I also enjoyed it with black olives and dry salami. I'm pretty sure this cheese would go with nearly anything. I do recommend this cheese as well, tho as I said, not much difference that I could discern, from the 2 year Gouda. I'm certainly not sorry I bought it. Now I know...

Kerrygold Irish Vintage Cheddar

Oh my God! This is good stuff! Sharp, without any bitterness and absolutely no aftertaste. Beautiful, creamy white cheese. Soft without being sticky. Easy to slice. So sharp it almost has a Parmesan like flavor. Only not quite the same. It's weird how good this cheese is. I would definitely recommend this cheese to any cheese heads out there.

Net Wt. 0.31 lb.
Unit Price: $15.99/lb
Total Price: $4.96

This cheese has a black wax coating which peeled off quite easily. The aroma is slightly sweet, not musty. I ate this cheese with red grapes, rye bread, and iced tea. It was all I could do to keep from eating all of it at one go. It's very good. Even Thomas liked it. We didn't share this one with Pete, but I imagine he would like it very much. I would not hesitate to serve this cheese to anyone (especially myself, ha!)

I'm sure this cheese would be great with an assortment of pickles, dried meats, crackers/breads or with pretty much any type of fruit. I really wish I'd had some type of melon to try it with. I think it would be fantastic with cantaloupe or honeydew melon.

I truly do hope you will all try this one. It is really something special. I loved it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Cahill's Porter Cheddar with Guiness

My picture, above, didn't turn out so good, so I ripped one off, here it is:

Nice, slightly sweet aroma. Beautiful cheese. The half wheel looks like a piece of art. The following is what the "experts" have to say about it:

"Cahill's Irish Porter Cheese....Celebrate St. Patrick's Day with this adventurous porter farm house cheddar cheese. This is the only cheese produced in the heart of County Limerick. The milk comes from the Frisian herd located on the 64 acre farm of Dave and Marion Cahill, just a mile outside the town. Marion, once a bank clerk, decided to go into cheese manufacturing in 1966 when she married Dave. Years later with the help of a small staff they are an established gourmet legend.The cornerstone of their operation is that each cheese is individually made and blended using no artificial ingredients. The main draw of the cheese, other than the unmistakable tang, is the mosaic pattern (seen below) created when the cheese is blended with Guinness Stout.
Using a base of tangy Irish cheddar, she has experimented with a variety of flavors and has come up with the very popular Porter. This beautiful pasteurized cow's milk cheese is marbled throughout with Guinness. It is sure to please any crowd with its unique look and flavor experience."

This is my opinion: Excellent cheese, most enjoyable, firm, somewhat crumbly texture. A little bit on the salty side. I was a little afraid, when I made the purchase, that the flavor of the Guinness would be too strong for me. But it wasn't. I will definitely be purchasing more of this cheese. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I will be looking for other Cahill's cheeses, as well.

From the label:
Pasteurized cow's milk, cheese starter, Guinness porter, salt.

Net wt. .20 lb
Unit Price: $16.99/lb
Total Price: $3.40

Well worth the money and cheaper than some, at that. I might not buy this every week, nor even every month, but I will be buying it again. I truly enjoyed this one. It has a very distinctive look, and an uncomplicated, earthy, homey taste. I can see this as some one's lunch with some cured meats, a succulent pear, and a big slab of whole grain bread. I think I'm going to try a grilled cheese with it the next time I get some.

I do recommend this cheese to all cheese lovers. Try it, you won't be sorry you did.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Gouda - One aged 6 months, one aged 1 year

The last time I was at the Earth Fare market, I was completely stymied. I had had plans to try out at least one of the local cheeses that I'd seen there the last time I was in. However, all the local efforts were sold out at the time I showed up. Isn't that just like my luck? So... I decided that I would try something that I was at least a little bit familiar with: Gouda. I always liked Gouda when I was growing up. It was one of my favorites. Of course we never got the "real' kind. Only the American made stuff. It was good, though.

So... I went looking for Gouda. And I found plenty of it! There were 4 different varieties of just Gouda and a few "flavored" Goudas(the gouda with sun-dried tomato and basil was to die for, but I wanted to stick to plain Gouda). And there were 4 different age categories. Who knew??? When you do most of your shopping at a big grocery store such as Kroger or Albertson's or whatever, you don't learn these things. Well, I'm learning now, let me tell you!

Since I had promised myself (and my hubby) when I started this project that I would only buy 2-3 types a week I had a problem. I really, really, really wanted to try all 4 age varieties. Hubby frowned and looked forbidding as I dithered. I stalked up and down the long row of cheese cases, picking up wedges, reading wheels, lifting the types to my nose, holding them up to the light. Finally, just about the time he started to cross his arms and tap his foot, the cheese lady came over and asked if I would like some help; could she get me a taste of anything? So we started talking and tasting (that's when we tried the tomato-basil Gouda). Hubby finally talked me into just buying the 6 month and the 1 year kinds.

I took my two measley little wedges home and pouted for a few days. And then I quit casting mournful gazes at hubby dear and got down to tasting the cheese.


The picture below shows both the Rejpenaer brand Gouda - aged 1 year, on the top and the Wijngaard brand Gouda - aged 6 months, on the bottom.


And now for the tasting...

The first one I tasted was the Wijngaard, aged 6 months. Which is shown pictured just above. The scent is sharp, slightly nutty, with an underlying hint of a sweet fermented odor. The cheese is slightly firm, smooth, not crumbly.

The appearance is as follows: a colorful, wax coating on the outside, in the center the cheese is a pale yellow color darkening to an orange-y/yellow at the rind. Inside are found a very few holes like you would find in greater number inside a Swiss cheese.

From the label: milk, salt, starter culture, natural color

I purchased .31 pounds of this cheese at $19.99 per pound for a total cost of $6.20

This 6 months aged Gouda is smooth and creamy feeling in the mouth. WOW! I love this cheese! What a shocker. American, found in any grocery store in America, American made Gouda isn't even really the same cheese. (Tho why would I expect it to be, come to that? Real Parmesan cheese bears no resemblance to the stuff you get in the green box, does it? Why would real Gouda bear any resemblance to what I have been buying?) This cheese has a little bite to it. Sharp, pungent, the flavor explodes in your mouth. There is a distinct difference in flavor as the cheese encounters each taste level on the tongue. Super-duper! I really like this one! No after taste. The mouth washes clean with just a sip of tea. I'm eating this plain, at nearly room temp with a slice of pumpernickel and a slice of rye, along with some black grapes and some fresh pineapple. It stands up nicely to those foods. I think it would be good with some nice crackers or a rustic bread. I can imagine generations of farmers making and selling and eating this cheese down through the centuries. You can almost see it, hear it, smell it, taste it, while eating this cheese.

This cheese may be too strong for some people, but those who like cheese should love this one. Despite the cost I will be purchasing it again.


The picture above shows the Rejpenaer brand Gouda, aged 1 year. This one is pale orange-y/yellow in color, darkening near the wax outer coating. Slightly crumbly, semi-hard. Almost the texture of Parmesan cheese. Not quite as hard as Parmesan, but close. It even has those tiny little crystalline particles that real Parmigiana Reggiano cheese has.

The label reads the same as the 6 month Gouda. Makes sense, eh?

purchased .27 pounds at $19.99 per pound for a total cost of $5.40

The odor is sharp, somewhat musty. There's a strong smell of animal with this cheese. I'm definitely smelling the farmyard here. I'm not enjoying this 1 year Gouda nearly as much as I did the 6 month Gouda. The taste is quite strong. I'm tasting the fermentation quite strongly. The "ripening" if you want to call it that. "Ripe" is what it is. An acquired taste, I think. And I could probably "acquire" it, if it didn't cost so darned much and there weren't so many other cheeses out there that I know I like better. (The Parmigiana Reggiano for one.)

I imagine this cheese would be great grated over a salad or topping a potato dish. I could even use it to flavor any number of soups. What I won't be doing is just slicing it and eating it "as is".

I don't know if I would offer this one on a cheese tray or to the "casual" cheese fan. A real cheese-head will appreciate it, a good cook will appreciate it. Not many others will, I'm afraid.


I've now come to the end of my cheese tasting for this week. The experience was interesting, informative, and surprising for me. I learned some things this week, some good, some bad. But that's what this cheese log project is all about. Good, bad, or indifferent, knowing a thing is always better than not knowing.

Even though I wasn't particularly enamored of the 1 year aged Gouda, I will be purchasing the 2 and 3 year aged Gouda; just so my tasting report can be complete. It probably won't be next week. I think I want to try something different before I take a crack at those two. Perhaps something mild, innocuous, inoffensive... then again... they did have several varieties of goats milk cheeses there; and I have always liked Feta cheese. hum...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Comte French Raw Milk Alpine Cheese - tasted 01/20/08

Hubby picked out this cheese and therefore, I don't have a brand name for it, either. (I'm not starting out too good, am I?) I will get the brand for this one and the Double Gloucester from last week as soon as I can and pass them on to you.

This is a lovely, creamy white cheese with a brownish-tan colored natural rind (which I will be saving to use as a flavoring in my next pot of soup). It has a firm, smooth texture. Easy to slice. Feels good "to the teeth", to borrow a pasta cooking term. This cheese is semi-dry. As it came up to room temperature it became slightly oily.

From the label:
Raw cow milk, salt, animal rennet, lactic ferments.
Net weight: .26 lb.
Unit Price: $16.99/lb.
Total Price: $4.42

As I said, Pete picked this cheese. So, of course, he didn't care for it. Me? I love it! It is a robust, flavorful, some might say "pungent" cheese. I accompanied my first serving of this cheese with red seedless grapes, cherry tomatoes, pumpernickel bread and iced peach tea. The tomatoes were really good with this cheese. So was the pumpernickel. The grapes didn't go so well. This cheese needs to be served with foods that can "stand up" to it. I would serve it with such things as cured meats, different types of pickles, olives, rustic breads, veggies... I would not serve it with sweet or fruity items. Except maybe berries with balsamic vinegar.

There is almost a flavor of Parmesan cheese when you first put this in your mouth. Then the flavor changes into something else. I can't quite put my finger on it. It's something I've tasted before. Some other type of cheese. Gruyere, perhaps? Something about this Comte French makes me think of fondue. This is a very rich, slightly nutty flavored cheese.

This cheese is not for everyone. It has a strong, distinctive flavor that some people may object to. I would save this one for guests you are sure will appreciate it. Despite the cost, I would buy this cheese again. Perhaps not every week, or even every month, but two or three times a year would not be out of the question.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Double Gloucester tasted on Jan. 13, 2008

Traditional wisdom says:
"Double Gloucester is a traditional English cheddar-style cheese from Gloucestershire with a bold orange color and bright, somewhat sharp flavor. Double Gloucester has the honor and distinction of being used each spring for the Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake on Gloucestershire's Cooper's Hill, which consists of competitors chasing a wheel of Double Gloucester down an uneven hillside. The competitors are expected to catch the wheel of cheese; but, with speeds in excess of 70mph, this is virtually impossible."

Now for my say:
This cheese is yellow-orange in color. Dry, not quite crumbly in texture. Somewhere between medium and sharp cheddar. It has a natural rind which is creamy white in color and somewhat 'powdery' to the touch.
The label reads: Pasteurized cows milk, dairy culture, vegetarian rennet, salt, natural coloring Annatto, penicillium Roquefort.
Unit Price: $11.99 per pound. I purchased .40 pounds of this cheese and paid a total price of $4.80 USD. The piece I bought was cut from the wheel when I asked for it. Since I didn't know that I was going to be doing this blog when I made the purchase, I did not take note of the brand. I will be sure to get that information the next time I am at Earth Fare.

My first taste:
With this cheese I had red seedless grapes, toasted rye bread with olive oil spread and a glass of unsweetened, peach flavored, iced tea.
This cheese is inoffensive. It has a pleasant taste and texture. It feels good in the mouth, not mushy or gummy. It has a very mild odor. It was dry enough and firm enough to slice very thinly. No aftertaste. My opinion is that Double Gloucester cheese is good with fresh fruit. It would also be nice for a grilled cheese sandwich, or a cheese tray. Over all I would say this is a nice, average, inoffensive cheese. Anyone and every one should like it. There is nothing objectionable about this cheese but it's price.
My Final Say:
I would gladly eat it if someone offered it on a cheese tray or with fruit at a party or luncheon, but I see no need to pay the extra price for something that isn't really that much better than a good, quality, regular cheddar cheese.