“A meal without some cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye”. -Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
“A cheese may disappoint. It may be dull, it may be naive, it may be over sophisticated. Yet it remains cheese, milk’s leap toward immortality.” -Clifton Fadiman
If these words don’t sum up just about everything we know and love about cheese then I don’t know what will. Cheese, you can’t live without it, creamy, smooth, buttery, crumbly, enticing, intoxicating, delicious, tangy, tasty, wonderful, crusty, fluffy, gooey, rich, soft, luscious and milky, well there’s cheese, as you like it, spread it on a cracker, pair with your favorite wine, grate some unto your sandwich, melt some over your bread, spread some over your pasta or just squeeze some of it on a hot piping pizza. There’s not a single nation in the whole wide world that doesn’t consume cheese. Some of the most delicious and scrumptious foods we know are prepared from cheese, like say cheesecake, fondue, lasagna, or the most preferred grilled cheese sandwich. For the health conscious, cheese has a number of health benefits too; it consists of calcium and protein and improves your mood as well. Ever tried to sniff cheese? You’ll know what I’m talking about. Here are a few delicious varieties of cheese. Take you pick!
10. Cottage Cheese, United States & United Kingdom
Milk – Cow
Cottage cheese, one of the most well-known cheeses has a mild taste, is creamy and lumpy. It is a cheese curd product made from different types of milk with different fat levels. It has a distinct white colour and does not age. Also known as paneer, it is very commonly used in South Asian cuisine and is a favorite in the Indian subcontinent, to prepare lip-smacking delicacies like palak paneer, malai paneer, rasmalai, Paneer with peas. I remember chunks of it used to be brought home on special occasions and all of us wolfing down most of the creamy cubes. It is also preferred by dieters and people who are health conscious as it is high in protein and low in fat, so long as the cheese is low fat or non-fat. It goes well with fruits such as pineapples peaches and berries, on toasts, salads and the low fat cheese is used to in various desserts such as Danish pastry and cheesecake. The term ‘cottage cheese’ is believed to have originated because the cheese was made in cottages from the milk left over after churning out the butter.
9. Parmesan or Parmigiano Reggiano – Italy
Buttery yellow in colour, Parmesan cheese is known to be preferred most by the top cheese connoisseurs around the world. It tastes aromatic and tangy and has a gritty and hard texture and a delicious fruity and nutty flavor. It is named after the Italian provinces that produce it such as Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, and Bologna and Mantova. It is made from raw cow’s milk, which have to be fed only on grass or hey. One of the most common ways in which it is used it being grated over pasta dishes and shaved or grated onto other dishes. It is considered a good cooking cheese because it does not form threads as it melts, making it a perfect topper for Italian dishes, pizza, soups and risottos. It is also eaten as a snack, melting in the mouth and then it becomes hard to resist its fragrant and tangy taste. It makes everything taste better, just a few chunks of it or some finely grated parmesan can make any meal irresistible from scrambled eggs to Italian soups. Its crunchy texture and caramel flavor makes any salad or pasta taste scrumptious.
8. Roquefort – France
A popular kind of a blue cheese, it is known in France as ‘the cheese of kings and popes.’ It has a distinct appearance with blue pockets of mold dotting each chunk. These molds are actually colonies of the mold Penicillium Roquefort found in the caves of Roquefort, France. It takes about five months to age after which it can be enjoyed with a variety of foods. Its breaks easily and has a sharp, sweet and nutty flavor. When broken, it can be moist and crumbly, with a delectable tangy and salty flavor. It is rich and creamy and is recognized easily because of its blue veined appearance. It is used mostly in salads and dressings and tastes yummy with nuts and honey, you can also put it on breads, crackers or in salads to provide a nice balance against the bitter greens or simply melt it on meat or pastas. It might be a bit unhealthy because of its high sodium content, but it tastes absolutely divine crumbled on to salads and fruits like figs. It is also one of the stinkiest cheeses, so much so that it was banned in countries like Australia and New Zealand. If you can get over the pungent odor, taste it, its delectable.
7. Gruyère – Switzerland
Milk – Cow
Another delicious tasting cheese with a tangy and hearty flavor, Gruyère is named after a town known as Gruyères in Switzerland. It is a hard and firm cheese and its colour range from ivory to yellow with distinctive holes which are formed due to the bubbles of carbon dioxide produced by the bacteria inside the cheese. It has a complexity of flavors and can be distinguished by its rind coated with red bacteria. It tastes fruity at first, and then becomes earthy and nutty. Its creamy, semi soft texture makes it perfect for baking. It is used in quiches, stuffed in the crust with meat and vegetables, fondue in which it melts into a divine creamy paste, as well as French onion soup. It tastes amazing in traditional French ham and cheese sandwiches with crunchy fried eggs, tomatoes, sausages and black pepper and also in chicken. When grated, it comes out finely shaven which is sprinkled over salads and pastas. Another great thing about this cheese is that it tastes great with white wines and apple cider as well as some kinds of beers.
6. Gouda – Netherlands
Milk- Cow, Goat, Sheep
This iconic Dutch cheese, pronounced “how-da” by the locals is one of the most popular cheeses worldwide. The cheese is named after the city Gouda in Netherlands and is one of the oldest cheeses in the world. A semi hard cheese with a beautiful yellowish colour, this cheese melts very easily. It is known for its rich, unique and smooth texture, and there are different kinds of gouda cheese produced, all of which depend upon the age of the cheese. Most of us must have seen them sold in supermarkets in those large wheels. Different types of Gouda cheeses taste differently from mild to tangy to salty, then there are those that have richer and firmer textures as they age. This cheese is best paired with beer and white wines. Since its texture is crumbly and dense it can be grated, cubed, melted or sliced or simply used as dessert cheeses or sandwiches. Try to have Gouda cheese with cumin seeds and you’ll know how wonderful that tastes. Smoked Gouda is another delicious cheese which tastes great with fruit and dark chocolate.
5. Cheddar Cheese – England
One of the most popular cheese in the world, this is a sharp tasting cheese. It originated in Somerset, England although there are a number of countries that manufacture cheddar nowadays. There’s mild cheddar and sharp cheddar. Mild cheddar goes perfect with sandwiches,and sharp cheddar is considered a great cheese for cooking. It is commonly served in salads and sandwiches in restaurants, delis and local food eateries. You might find some of it sprinkled or lathered on your favorite burgers, but that is usually not the genuine cheese. Traditional cheese has a nutty and tangy flavor, and when its creamy texture melts in your mouth you’ll know. Its colour ranges from white to pale to deep yellow to straw, and it simply melts in the mouth, kind of like hazelnut. It is also a good source of protein and calcium but is high in saturated fats.
4. Provolone – Italy
Originated in Vesuvius, Naples, Italy, Provolone is a semi hard cheese with a firm and grainy texture. Its taste varies from very sharp to sweet to a very mild taste depending upon how the cheese is allowed to age. This cheese is perhaps known for the heavenly and delicious taste it imparts when used in pizzas. It goes amazingly well with red wines and breads. At home you can stir some of it into chutneys, flat breads or just simply sprinkle of it onto your favorite parantha. It tastes luscious. There are basically two types of provolone cheese, provolone dolce and provolone piccante. The former is aged up to 2-3 months and has a sweet taste and pale colour while the latter is aged for more than four months and has a sharp taste. It has high sodium content although it is another cheese with good calcium and protein levels.
3. Brie – France
The French sure know their cheeses and this one is no different, it is known as the queen of cheese. Another yummylicious cheese, it is very rich with a delicate and creamy texture, and its taste can range from buttery to mushroom like. Originated in Brie, France, this cheese is so preferred that it used to be used for paying tributes to French kings. It is pale in color and its rind is white and moldy, its crust is thin and edible, and it is best served at room temperature. In France, people soak this cheese in their café au lait and enjoy having it for breakfast. Don’t be put off by the white moldy surface, just try to have it with fruits or nuts or bread or melt some of it onto tomatoes. It is purchased in a full wheel or a whole wheel segment and is a great dessert cheese. If it is allowed to mature a little longer it develops a sharper taste along with a crumbly rind and is known as Brie Noir.
2. Swiss Cheese – United States
Milk – Cow
Also known as American Swiss cheese, this cheese is instantly recognizable by the small holes or eyes on its surface as it ripens. Who hasn’t seen Swiss cheese in commercials, cartoons like Tom and Jerry and movies as well? All of us! By the way, the more pronounced the holes are, the tastier the cheese gets. There’s nothing better than having a fresh slice of Swiss cheese with bread and coffee early in the morning. It not only provides calcium and protein, but it is also a good source of vitamin b12.A wonderful yellowish colour, its taste can vary from mild, sweet and nut like although it does not have a sharp taste. It can also be eaten with fruits, wine, juices like cranberry, tomato or just melt some of it on to ham or salami sandwich. You can also have it as an appetizer.
1. Mozzarella – Italy
Milk – Cow, Water buffaloes
A personal favorite, this classic Italian cheese is known worldwide for its soft and supple texture. I love its soft milky taste and also the fact that it is used everywhere as a great pizza topper. It can be cubed, grated, melted or sliced on to your favorite pizzas, and it tastes divine. It is made from the milk of water buffaloes and cows and is prized for its creamy and rich texture. It is also low fat so you can have it if you’re on a low calorie diet with fresh tomatoes and basil or munch some of it as string cheese. It is moist with great binding properties and therefore is a great cooking cheese as well. It goes best with Italian dishes, garlic bread, sandwiches and seafood. This cheese is not aged and is consumed within hours of being prepared. Another great thing about this creamy soft cheese is that it can be made at home.