The uses of cheese are limitless considering the many types that exist. A vast number of different cheeses from all over the world are showcased in the market, and gazing upon them can be intimidating by an inexperienced cook. Many will skip the confusion and continually buy the same brand, meanwhile missing out on the unique flavor each type of cheese has to offer.
Learn About Different Types of Cheese
A shopping list does not need to be limited to one familiar type of cheese, instead take a culinary journey into unknown territories of cheese. Each unique cheese has a specific way it is best used. Choosing a certain type and then learning about its specific qualities will benefit any dish it touches. There is no specific take off point, but the cheeses below can give a beginner something to start with.
Gruyere is the name sake of the Gruyere valley of Fribourg, Switzerland. A hard, yellow cheese made of cow’s milk, it is the most famous form of swiss cheese. Gruyere has an earthy and complex flavor when fully aged.
With its bold flavor, gruyere can hold its own sliced with a simple serving of crackers, but is capable of much more. Beef gladly welcomes gruyere into the family, as the two flavors marry extremely well. It is an ideal topper for french onion soup, as it melts and bubbles atop of the beef broth base or it is delicious in a reuben sandwich.
When the occasion calls for wine, serve gruyere with a Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.
Gouda cheese is named after the Dutch town of Gouda which is just outside Rotterdam. This cheese has a sweet flavor because the curd is separated from the whey in a process called “washing the curd”. Doing this lowers the level of lactic acid and brings out the sweet flavor in cheese. As gouda ages, the flavor sharpens and becomes pronounces a salty-sweet flavor.
The Dutch make fondue with Gouda called kaasdoop. Young gounda is often enjoyed at the breakfast table, spread over bagels and toast. It is also a regular at an appetizer table next to the crackers and fruit. Meanwhile, aged gouda is perfectly suited for a mature version of macaroni and cheese or scalloped potatoes. With its distinctive flavor, pepperoni and salami are flavorful friends of aged gouda, giving it place atop pizza or submerged in a deli sandwich.
For a superb wine pairing, toast Pinot Grigio to a side of gouda cheese.
Asiago cheese originated in the Asiago High Plateau in the Italian Alps. Like gouda, Asiago changes drastically with time. Fresh asiago, called Asiago Pressato, is soft and tender with a semi-sweet flavor. While aged asiago, or Asiago d’allevo, is hard and crumbly with a semi-sweet flavor and a hazelnut undertone.
A delicious creamy soup base can be made with Asiago Pressato, but its tender texture makes it highly preferred as a table cheese. Asiago d’allevo shares similar texture and taste with parmesan cheese and is often given the same tasks; such being as grated over pastas and salads. However, Asiago d’allevo stands out with its hazelnut flair and brings something different to the table, giving a dish an entirely new complexity. Pesto is another way to bring out the nutty flavor of the cheese.
Asiago Pressato can be enjoyed with Vespaiolo, while Asiago d’allevo is lovely with Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.
While visiting the cheese section at the supermarket can be overwhelming, instead of choosing the same kind of cheese every time, researching the different varieties and how to use them will benefit any cook’s resume. The three cheeses highlighted above, Gruyere, Gouda and Asiago have characteristics all their own, and are all delicious when used properly. An excellent start to an exciting new relationship with cheese can begin today.