Cheese plays an important role in my life. We have cheese as part of our late night meals about four times a week. It can round out a soup and salad night, serve as a kick-off with a cured meat selection and will always replaces dessert. My foundation for on hand cheese is simple and fully functional- a fresh cheese, a firm cheese, and a runny/gooey cheese.
Here are some of our building block favorites. The descriptions below are from the Murray’s web site. The pricing is from Murray’s GCT- web site pricing is “more ambitious”:
Cow’s Milk Cheese:
Fromager d’Affinois ($15/pound) Rhone-Alps, France. Pasteurized cow’s milk cheese.
Extra creamy cousin of Brie, this French innovation is buttery, sweet, and mild. Rich and pleasant, and especially lovely with fresh fruit and champagne.
Taleggio ($15/pound) Piedmonte, Italy. Pasteurized cow’s milk cheese.
This iconic Italian washed-rind has been made in northern Italy since the 9th century. Pungent, fruity and meaty – ripe wheels should eat like pudding… delicious, stinky pudding that goes with wine. Try Barbera or Soave.
Raclette ($14/pound) Auvergne, France. Raw cow’s milk cheese
You can ‘scrape’ up a decent meal by melting this deeply satiating, pungent cheese – served with boiled fingerling potatoes, cornichons, and if you’re feeling crazy, some charcuterie. A glass of dry Riesling should push it over the edge…
Gallego ($12/pound)- Galicia, Spain. Pasteurized cow’s milk cheese.
Prepare your palate for this voluptuously creamy, mild, double-crème pasteurized cow milk item from Galicia, Spain. Ideal starter on your cheese plate.
Meadow Creek Grayson ($23/pound) Virginia, USA. Raw Jersey.
It may look like Taleggio, but this pudgy square threatens to put its European cousin to shame. Made from the milk of pastured Jersey cows expect seasonally varied meaty flavor and a texture to die for.
Goat’s Milk Cheese:
Bucheron ($15/pound)- Poitou-Charentes, France. Pasteurized goat’s milk
And you thought goat cheese was only the fresh white stuff. Check the two-textured magic that a round slice of b-log has to offer; rich and creamy, a bit fresh and citrusy – a little something for everyone.
Brunet ($17/ea.) Piedmonte, Italy. Pasteurized goat’s milk
They say blondes have more fun, but after trying this delicate goat round, you’ll be convinced otherwise. This handsome disc is cakey and bright at its core, while delightfully gooey beneath the rippled, perfectly edible rind.
Chevre d’Argental ($22/pound) Rhone-Alps, France. Pasteurized goat’s milk
Why the hexagon? Perhaps the perfect simplicity of this pasteurized goat’s milk cheese from Lyon had the cheesemakers worried. No gimmicks necessary, in our opinion. A creamy to runny interior with a rind as tender and fine as any Brie.
Selles-sur-Cher ($10/ea.) Centre, France. Pasteurized goat’s milk
Looking something like a very stylish hockey puck, this ash-covered disc is soft and creamy. After several weeks in our caves it becomes less tart: nuanced, saline and goaty. Enjoy this classic treat with a glass of dry Touraine Blanc.
Pata de Cabra ($23/pound) Aragon, Spain. Pasteurized goat’s milk
Pungent, tangy, aromatic and shaped like the leg of the animal whose milk it is made with. Yum! A washed-rind variety made in very small quantities. When young, it is fruity and refined with a robust “kick” at the finish. With a little extra age, it becomes more pungent and powerful.
Sheep’s Milk Cheese:
Brebirousse D’argental ($22/pound) Lyon, France. Pasteurized sheep’s milk
A sheep in Telleggio clothing. This handsome tile is sweet and delicate with a loose, oozing paste. Great choice with dried cherries or a glass of rose.
Pecorino Toscano Fresco ($14/pound) Tuscany, Italy. Pasteurized sheep’s milk
Pecorinos are like snowflakes; they are beautiful and distinct, but all made of the same stuff: Italian sheep’s milk. This one’s from Tuscany, and happens to be young, supple, and game for a picnic lunch.
Fiore Sardo, Fratelli Pinna ($15/pound) Italy. Raw sheep’s milk
Firm texture, wet smoke, and a piquant, nutty finish are hallmarks of artisan Fiore Sardo. Made of raw sheep milk, and gamey, slammin’ perfection with a glass of Montepulciano.
Roncal ($22/pound) Navarra, Spain. Raw sheep’s milk
Looking for an excellent Spanish sheep’s milk cheese? This D.O.-protected raw milk goodie from the Basque region is full-bodied, gamy, and just a little bit musty.
Bring On The Buffalo!
Quadrello di Bufala ($22/pound) Lombardia, Italy. Pasteurized Buffalo milk
The classic Taleggio recipe takes on new life in this water buffalo milk version. The rich and robust ‘big game’ milk translates to gamy pungency and a silky, spreading interior. Only a fiercely earthy Barbera could counter this scene stealer.