I was lucky to meet a French Cheese Monger here in Mumbai for a cheese tasting session. François Robin the award-winning cheesemonger with his ancestral knowledge to produce a variety of high-quality cheese. From French Camembert to Greek Feta, from the blue cheese to soft and creamy goat cheese, I had quite a cheesy brunch at Indigo Colaba. He along with Mansi demonstrated a very successful pairing with the different varieties of European cheese in traditional Indian recipes.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a die hard cheese fan or a cheese newbie you will end up loving it. If your taste buds don’t agree with strong cheese they will love the milder one or vise versa. The type of milk, its country of origin, the time is taken to age it, cooking concerns, its tasting notes are all things the cheese connoisseur Francois talked about. Here in this post, I am sharing with you most of the conversation in the pointer below. Some interesting facts and some interesting must know:
1. The flavour of your cheese comes from two sources. The age and method by which the cheese was produced and the terroir are both factors in how it tastes. Much like chocolate, wine and coffee, cheese takes its flavour from the air, earth, and water of the region. Percentages of butterfat, lactose, and protein in the milk differ from species to species, which also gives each cheese a unique flavour.
2. Cheese can be made with milk coming from cows, goats and sheep, but also from most other mammals, including camels and lamas.
3. For the utmost in flavour, aroma, and texture, cheeses should always be served at room temperature. Take them out of the refrigerator about an hour before serving.
4. Fresh cheese is the cheese that hasn’t been aged and is quite mild. It typically doesn’t have rinds. Chèvre, feta and even paneer. You can pair them with salads, olives, spinach, watermelon, sun-dried tomatoes and herbs.
5. And it’s perfect to spread on crackers. Fresh cheeses can spoil in a few days without the proper preservatives.
6. Ricotta is a fresh Italian cheese that is made from the whey leftover from sheep, cow, goat or buffalo milk during the production of cheese. The sweet, fluffy cheese has a light consistency.
7. Surface-ripened cheeses are generally goat cheeses, with an ashen, thin, wrinkly rind. The wrap may look distasteful but its inside yields delicious soft creamy goodness
8. Cream cheese is a soft, mild-tasting cheese with high-fat content. Because it is not naturally matured, cream cheese is supposed to be enjoyed fresh, which sets it apart from other soft cheeses.
9. Semi-soft cheese has a higher moisture content compared to harder cheese, and it also tends to have a milder taste.
10. As a general rule, the older and drier a cheese—the longer it’s allowed to ripen and the more whey that’s drained off—the harder and more expensive it is. Hard cheeses tend to have sharper flavours and more pungent aromas.
11. Hard cheeses have a lower moisture content than soft cheeses and are packed into moulds that undergo tons of pressure, and are usually aged longer than soft cheese.
12. Cheese like Limburger and Appenzeller are periodically bathed in or brushed with brine or another solution, including beer and wine, which can create the mold to ripen the cheese from the outside in. This imparts strong, pungent flavours on the rinds of cheeses.
13. Commonly known as Parmesan in the English speaking world, this dense, granular cheese produces a strong fruity, nutty flavour. You need an average of 10 litres of milk to make a kilo of French Camembert de Normandie. You need 17 litres of milk to make a kilo of Italian Parmigiano Reggiano.”
14. The longer a Cheddar ages, the sharper it becomes. Cheddars are excellent melting cheeses but also pair well with sweet fruits, wine, and spiced, nutty dishes.
15. Gouda bears a wax rind. Traditionally red, the addition of herbs or cumin is signified by a green or orange rind. This cheese melts nicely and pairs well with savoury menu items, such as meat, onions, vinegar, and salads.
16. Swiss cheese is a beautiful balance between nutty and sweet. The larger the holes in a wedge of Swiss cheese, the more pronounced the flavour. Fun fact: the holes are sometimes called “eyes,” so when the cheese has little or no “eyes,” it’s called “blind.”
17. Pecorino Romano is a sharper, slightly saltier version of Parmesan. Because of the hard, yet flaky texture of the cheese, it’s perfect for grating. And the sharp, salty flavour of Pecorino Romano makes it great on top of pasta dishes
18. If mold grows on your cheese, just trim it off and the cheese will still be safe to eat.
19. Blue cheeses are produced by injecting special mould into the cheese curd and allowing it to ripen unsealed. The best way to tell if your blue is off is if there is too much blue veining within the cheese. A pink tinge may also indicate that it has gone bad.
20. You can serve blue cheese hot or cold—melted over a perfectly grilled steak or crumbled over a salad full of delicious fruits and vegetables.
21. There are a lot of different types of blue cheese; soft, hard, creamy, crumbly, salty, with or without rinds.
22. The soft-ripening cheeses, such as Brie or Camembert, are aged by introducing a special mould to the outside of the cheese. This process helps to intensify flavour from the outside in, and the inner part of the cheese is often called the paste, due to its soft, spreadable texture
23. Different cheese had different melting properties. For instance, softer, creamier cheeses (Emmental, Cheddar etc.) melt at around 55˚ while harder, drier ones like Parmesan take longer and crumbly feta-like cheeses don’t melt at all.
24. If you go much above a cheese’s melting point its proteins will start to tighten into clumps and squeeze out the fat they contain so that the cheese becomes grainy and oily. So controlling the heat during cooking is particularly important. Cheese should be exposed to heat as little as possible.
Kraft Processed Cheddar Cheese, 250g