Monday, October 17, 2011

Day 615 : A response to Serious Eats Top 13 Cheese List

In case you aren't familiar, Serious Eats is a fabulous food site/blog/community with city specific food news, along with news focused on pizza, drinks, burgers, and more with featured featured stories. It's educated, well informed, fun, and accessible the way a good food site should be. So when they released their opinions of the top thirteen cheeses everyone should know about, I was kind of excited to see what they would come up with and also curious to see if I'd agree. Here's their list:
1. Roquefort
2. Camembert
3. Cotija
4. Chevre
5. Feta
6. Mozzarella
7. Emmental
8. Cheddar
9. Gouda
10. Taleggio
11. Parmigiano-Reggiano
12. Manchego
13. Monterey Jack

Before you read what my list is, think about what your list would be. 13 cheeses that are must haves -- straightforward cheeses/cult cheeses or well just things you fell in love with that you feel you like everyone would as well -- the perfect balance of the well-known and the obscure.

So here is my list of must haves/starting points/blockbusters, some will overlap but few:

(It is organized by whether responses to the cheese chosen by Serious Eats.)

1. Roquefort - Although I might have wanted to name Fourme D'Ambert or Bleu d'Auvergne, Roquefort is the king of blue cheeses so I couldn't have not named it.
2. Brie - The classic bloomy rind cheese that is the starting point for some fabulous double and triple creams. Even though I may not love the classic Brie, I know that the cheese has allowed for the development of some of my favorite cheeses so I had to choose it.
3. Ricotta - Fresh, lactic and unctuous -- this is the classic creamy building block. Dressed up, it can attend a black tie event, casually adorned, it's perfect for a football Sunday get-together.
4. Chevre - Just like Roquefort is the starting point for blues, a straightforward chevre is the same for the goat cheeses.
5. Feta - see description #5.
6. Burrata - Decadence in cheese form -- mozzarella curd hides the center creamy lusciousness  -- a melt in your mouth ball of cheesy goodness.
7. Comte - Classic Alpine style cheese done excellently.
8. Cheddar - Yes it is one of the most common cheese styles world wide -- think Grafton cheese in Vermont, yumtastic!
9. Young Goat Gouda - We all know what Gouda is but this California specimen takes the definition to a whole new level.
10. Epoisses -- Washed rind. Cow's milk. High level of stink, this round disc is the godfather of washed rind cheeses.
11. Parmesan - Ok you simply cannot not have this on your list. Yes it is one of the most common and most versatile but a necessity!
12. Manchego - I spent a long debating this but it is again a building block -- aged sheep's milk cheese done right -- it has been the inspiration for many a cheese worldwide.
13. Pepato - For all those infused cheeses whether its with spices, peppercorns, alcohol, or other flavors -- an Asiago infused with black peppercorns is one of the classic infused cheeses. You cannot go wrong here - great for a cheese plate, cooked into a mac n' cheese, heated in a grilled cheese, you name it. Just like a good infused cheese, it will awaken your senses.

I noticed in making my list, the majority of the cheeses are actually "cheese umbrella" terms -- cheeses that lead to hundreds of other cheeses -- the building blocks of the cheese industry -- without understanding these guys, it is tough to imagine that one could understand those small production inventive artisanal cheeses that I write about all the time...

Stay tuned later this week, for my listing of 13 random obscure cheeses that for me are my thirteen all time favorites!

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