Fifty Best Cheese
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  Country: United States  
Vermont Shepherd

Vermont Shepherd
Putney, VT ,USA
Produced by Major Farm

The Majors are still the Kings of American sheep cheese. One look at the thick, crusty rustic rind, and you know that you're in for a farmstead treat. The cheese is hearty and meaty, with a long complex finish of cream, mushrooms, and nuts, which comes from that beautiful raw milk.

 

  Country: France  

Pont-l'Évêque
Normandy, France
French AOC, EU PDO

Pont-l'Évêque is yet another cheese to take advantage of the fine quality of Norman milk, but this time, we got a lil' stinker. Pont-l'Évêque is a small, flat square with a thick full bodied paste. The stinky aromas of the rind barely touch the paste, which instead has its own eggy funk, and a flavor reminiscent of canned cooked vegetables.

Pont-l'Évêque

 

  Country: Italy  
Caprino di Foglia Noce

Caprino di Foglia Noce
Piedmont, Italy

The northwest of Italy is peppered with tasty little goat cheeses. The variety of flavors available is astounding, but none quite so astounding as this. A tiny disk of chevre ripening inside a walnut leaf, it tastes like an untouched redwood forest after a soft, cool rain. The texture is almost whipped, and the earthy goat's milk is tempered by the faintest touch of sheep's milk, which adds it's characteristic creamy smooth finish.

 

  Country: Spain  

Ibores
Extramadura, Spain

The rustic perfection of this Spanish classic is unrivaled among its fellow goat tommes. The flavors of Spain's rough and wild west are all here in a flinty, slightly goaty cheese. The flavor is round and olivey, and goes with a wide variety of wines, charcuterie, and other cheese accompaniments.

Ibores

 

  Country: Ireland  
Durrus

Durrus
West Cork, Ireland
Made by Durrus Farmhouse Cheese

Durrus is a unique cheese. Definitely a member of the washed rind family, but simpler, heartier. Its flavor is earthy and funky, like cream of mushroom soup and roast goose. Cheese maker Jeffa Gill began this cheese in 1979 on her stove top. Now she makes in a traditional copper vat. As with most British and Irish cheeses, the finest examples of this cheese come from the aging rooms at Neal's Yard Dairy.

 

  Country: United States, Italy  

Ricotta Di Pecora
From anywhere sheep's milk cheese is made

Ricotta isn't technically a cheese, but the process is so similar, and intricately bound up in the cheese making process, that we consider it one anyway. Ricotta is made from whey, the liquid that runs off during the curdling process. In the whey, perfectly good protein runs off, and all it takes to curdle it is a little heat. The best ricotta is made with sheep's milk; its whey has the most complex chemical makeup for an incredible density in the mouth, and more lingering flavor.

Ricotta Di Pecora

 

  Country: France  
Maroilles

Maroilles
Picardy, France
French AOC, EU PDO

A hidden treasure from the northern French family of super stinkers, Maroilles (pronounced Mar-WAHL) is a rare treat. The flavor is very full and creamy, and, as you chew the paste, a nutty, aromatic quality will open in your mouth. This is definitely one for beer or cider, and definitely one to seek out.

 

  Country: Spain  

Nevat de Oveja
Catalonia, Spain
Made by Can Pujol

Nevat is usually a goat's milk cheese. The goat's milk version is certainly pleasant enough, but the recipe is designed to highlight the power of sheep's milk. The flavor is mellow and unassuming, but if you let a piece of the chalky middle or creamy edge linger on your tongue, the taste will stay and caress your mouth for an eternity.

Nevat de Oveja

 

  Country: Italy  
Aged Provolone

Aged Provolone
Southern Provinces and Lombardy, Italy Some Lombardy are DOP

This ain't the deli slicing loaf! The pasta filata style of cheese is indigenous to the Southern Italian provinces, but now they are made all over Italy and the world. Some of the best come from the far North of Italy. The short-aged versions are certainly tasty and sharp, but seek out some that are aged upwards of 2 years. So sharp, it's about as close to a punch in the jaw you can get without being there. The cheese is oily, peppery, and slightly sweet. It's perfect for grating, or shaving on a sandwich. The bold can eat it straight and perhaps wash it down with a light clean beer, try classic German Pilsner.

 

  Country: United States  

Monterrey Jack
Originated in Central California, now made all over America

Attributed to David Jacks, a Scotsman who made a fortune selling it to 49ers. Jack cheese was probably based on traditional cheeses made by the monks and Spanish settlers who called early 19th century California home. Now there is no mistaking the classic tang of this delightful snacking cheese. Of course you want to avoid the bland industrial products. Go for the Sonoma Jack brand, or the grand daddy of them all: Vella Jack. In particular, seek out Vella's Dry Jack. It's aged till the cheese is salty and crumbly, more like a grana than the wet jack we all know.



Text courtesy of Daniel Granke

Monterrey Jack



 
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