Thursday, October 13, 2011

13 Cheeses Everyone Should Try

This week, Serious Eats put out a list of 13 Cheeses Everyone Should Know. When I saw the link appear on Twitter, I had to click and peruse. At first, the list seemed a little basic – feta, mozzarella, Monterey jack – but then I thought back to a convo I had recently with my writer-friend Sam. He told me he didn’t think he could name ten cheeses. My jaw dropped.

Sometimes I forget that I live on a cheese-centric planet and that not everyone orbits this little star. So, I decided to create my own cheese list – 13 Cheeses Everyone Should Try. I don’t care if you're a complete novice or an intrepid aficionado. If you try even one of these cheeses, you will see the world differently. Your tastebuds will jump several I.Q. points. Your heart will open and a joyful cuckoo will fly out.

Why? These cheeses will show you how good cheese can be, and I think they have universal appeal. I've served all of these to finicky nervous types, and I promise that these wedges will not alienate you. Next time you need to feel revitalized, don’t buy eye cream. Buy good cheese.

1. Cabot Clothbound Cheddar: Made in Vermont, this is the one cheese that never fails to make Americans rethink block cheddar.

2. Midnight Moon: You don’t need a nightcap, you just need a nibble of this firm goat cheese that tastes like candy corns.

3. Rogue River Blue: Right, I know you don’t think you like blue. Eat this anyway.

4. Delice de Bourgogne: A float-away triple crème. No holiday home should be without it.

5. Nevat: Sheep’s milk snow from Cataluna, Spain. Etherial and unforgettable.

6. Truffle Tremor: Need I describe?

7. Parmigiano Reggiano: Get the real stuff and drizzle honey on it. If you can find Cravero brand, you’ll fall backwards.

8. Winnimere:  Like gooey fondue, but wrapped in bark. Hard to find but worth begging for.

9. Montchevre Cabrie: Trust me. Goat Brie from Wisconsin. When ripe, it’s better than fudge.

10. Comté: Look for Marcel Petit brand. A smooth, glorious Alpine. (Pair with a pumpkin ale, a recommendation from Hunter Fike.)

11. Strathdon Blue: Imagine the Atlantic Ocean in cheese form.

12. Pleasant Ridge Reserve: An American original with an incredible array of flavors.

13. Evalon: A new beauty with a wild number of awards. Think: ungoaty Gouda.

All of these cheeses can be ordered online. I'm partial to Di Bruno Bros. in Philadelphia, but I also recommend ordering from Murray's, Artisanal, and Formaggio Kitchen. You can also buy some of these cheeses directly from the cheesemakers via their websites.

If you find one you like, let me know. If I've led you astray, shoot me a dirty look. If I missed one of your faves, for goodness sake, tell me this instant.


  1. Thanks Mme. Interesting perspective from your friend Sam. I'm going to try that question randomly with friends & customers. Incidentally, my cheese distributor (not amongst the list you mention) seemed to think I wouldn't notice if they slipped me Original Blue when I ordered Rogue River Blue. Both good cheeses, but come on! Andy Meddick for Rehoboth Beach Cheese Company. We Know Yum!

  2. Andy, great blog! Thanks for the comment. I hung on every word of your beer and cheese recommendations: (

    Uplands Pleasant Ridge Reserve with Yards IPA? I'm intrigued. Dogfish Head 90-minute IPA seems to be such a universal pairing with so many cheeses. I'm curious to try it with Morbier, as you suggest.

  3. My favorite reasonably-priced cheddar is actually the English Seaside Cheddar you can get at Whole Foods (roughly 10.99/lb, often 5.99 on sale). It has a marvelous cheddar flavor--v. bold with wonderful salt crystals that lend some texture. I also think it has a hint of parm to it. Not having tried Cabot's or Quicke's yet, this has been the top contender in my household and I may have to buy a pound for a cheese party this winter...or at least Christmas! I finally tried a small sample of Truffle Tremor last week though, and while it was pretty good, the finace and I both preferred the Delice de Bourgogne hands-down!

  4. The Cabrie? Really? It seems so 'meh' compared to the others. I would have gone with Kunik from Nettle Meadow.

  5. S.,
    Word on the Kunik. You called it. That's one to add. The Cabrie is so approachable for the squeamish, such a little nectar nugget of easy loving goodness. It jumped out at me, but I think you've got a real argument for sneaking in the Kunik.

  6. I think it's funny, and one of the reason that I love cheese so much, that it is so palate to palate. I wouldn't call the Cabrie approachable, perhaps because of the density and bitterness of the rind. At least that was my experience with it.

    The price, however, does make it quite accessible and easy enough on the wallet to have someone give it a whirl without feeling like they're getting burned.

    And, I did forget to mention how much I loved that you had Nevat on there. A much loved, yet off the radar, cheese for sure.

  7. Thanks! Glad to hear a shout out from another Nevat lover. As for Cabrie, I found it so mild and gentle. The Kunik I've tried has blown me back against the wall -- it's been pungent and wonderfully oozy. Guess the issue is that these cheeses can be eaten at various stages, so it's hard to share the same experience.

  8. I have to think La Tur or one of it's American counterparts would be a great addition to the list. I have won over many people by putting this one in front of them.

  9. I am great cheese fan and I absolutely loved your blog :)

    Coming from India, I heart the Indian Paneer :) Did you get a chance to try it yet?