Off Topic: Cheese

Image: Kotaku

Rather than sit at home for the whole long weekend, I went with my partner on a day trip of the Hunter Valley. I've never been before, and given that I like nice food and nice wine, it seemed like a sensible mini-holiday.

But something I wasn't anticipating was a trip to the Smelly Cheese Shop, something that's a bit of an institution in the Hunter Valley. And as a result, I've got cheese on the mind.

We had a measly 10 minutes to browse, which is bugger all time for such a treasure trove of dairy. So in the end we walked away with a few different cheeses — a Danish cheddar of some description, a truffle brie with seeded mustard throughout, another blue cheese that my addled brain can't remember right now, and something else entirely.

In any case, I wanted to ask you: what cheeses do you like, and under what circumstances?

Here's some thoughts from me:

  • Big fan of doing a nice simple blue cheese sauce with steak. You can get roquefort from ALDI now for about $5. 50gm of that with an equal amount of cream on low heat. Crumble cheese, pour cream in, stir slowly and melt down till thick and pour on top of meat. Delicious.
  • You know those people who can never have too much parmesan when it's spag-bol night? That's me. If anything, melted parmesan is probably the best part of spag-bol.
  • When I was a real fat kid: lebanese wrap, grated tasty cheese or that four cheese/pizza cheexe mix, griller. Cheap cheese pizza, done.
  • Something decadent? Get a whole thing of Camembert. I mean the whole thing. Cut holes into it. Insert fresh garlic. Wrap entire thing in proscuitto or pancetta. Bake for about 18-22 minutes. Toast some bread. Die in happiness.
  • French. Onion. Soup. Hot. Bread. Yes.
  • Cheese is pretty damn great. Are you a fan? And if so, how do you do have your cheese?


    Pretty much any cheese any time, although i have never really tried blue cheese other than in a dressing.

    Usually the go to for a quick cheese and cracker night though is a camembert or brie.

      Try a blue brie if you can. It's a good 'halfway house' between blue and non-blue cheese.

        Cheers for the tip.

          Zambayoshi is an individual who knows their cheese. Blue brie is indeed the place to start.

    Heading down to Prom Country Cheese this Saturday with the better half for a tasting and some wine, will be stopping into Loch for the brewery and distillery on the way home also.

    Cheese is pretty great. A wheel of brie is a common mainstay to snack on around here while dinner's getting ready. Back in the day Dad used to always get these big wheels of baked ricotta which we used to absolutely demolish, I miss those.

    And yeah. Completely drown the pasta in parmesan. Every time.

      Oh man, it's almost gotten to the point with me where I can just say "screw your pasta and sauce, gimme a bowl of Parmesan!" But then I remember I also like pasta...

      A friend of mine is italian and her mum makes baked ricotta with basil and tomatoes whenever they're having people round. It's so delicious!

        Oh that reminds me of another one we used to do for a while. I forget what kind of cheese it was, I think maybe some kind of brie or similar (and it came in a packet made of wood?), but you put it in a dish, get a few gloves of garlic and stick it them in there (can't remember if you maybe just slice up one and poke the slivers in) then pour some wine on it and put it in the oven for a while. Then when it's ready get dipping with some kind of bread.

          Yeah, that would be a brie or camembert, and I think you pour over a port or similar before you bake. Very french. Also, dipping slices of fresh pear into baked into hot melty white cheese is awesome.

          Aldi sell a crumbed camembert for baking that comes with cranberry sauce. Thus far, I have managed to resist it...

            Doooo it! Doooo it!

            Pear and cheese? Sounds like an odd... er. Grouping :P
            Boy am I getting hungry right now.

    Stinking Bishops in Newtown. If you like cheese & tasty salami, paired with a good beer, go there asap.

      I have been past there a few times but am yet to visit. Probably should do something about that.

        you really should :)

        try booking a table in advance though. can get pretty busy in there.

    Oh your camembert thing sounds great.

    My background is Italian. My parents owned a deli when I was a kid and now occasionally make their own salami and proscuitto. At home, they always have some cheese in the fridge.

    I adore cheese. I adore a bit of asiago or montasio or Canadian friulano. Love very slim slivers of parmegianno and I get huge joy and nibbling on the little crumbs of cheese that didn't get grated fine enough by the grater. Don't mind the odd piece of camembert, and I even like American cheese, which is more or less just cheddar.

    Edit: And don't get me started on haloumi and feta.

    Last edited 04/10/16 11:38 am

    Your camembert/proscuitto idea just gave me a mean hard on, and Ive been told thats socially unacceptable at the workplace

    Personally prefer the more bland cheeses like Brie and Edam, but will eat most happily, with the exception of most Fetas. It's the only cheese I'll really say no to.

      Try a mix of 5/6 Ricotta and 1/6 Feta crumbled up and mixed with breadcrumbs, wilted spinach, egg, salt, pepper and nutmeg used as a substitute for meat in a lasagne. Mmmm....

      The saltiness of the Feta offsets the blandness of the Ricotta just enough. I agree that Feta is a rather difficult cheese to eat on its own or in salads.

    The more on the nose the better. Roquefort, overripe Brie that's right on the edge, Gorgonzola and so forth. As for combining these with things, anything more than a cracker would just be diluting their excellence.

      You really can't go past a crusty baguette or a pain a l'ancienne for putting cheese on. Crackers are (to my mind) too distracting both to the ears and to the mouth. Bread is a more natural fit. The crustiness just gives a slight crunch, which is buffered by the softness of the interior. It also absorbs wine that might happen to be in your mouth at the same time.

      Eating wine and drinking cheese together is somewhat debated. Wine's strong palate can 'drown out' the subtle flavours and aromas of cheese. However, it is one of my guilty pleasures to cram bread and cheese in my mouth and then sip some wine as well.

        If the baguette is good and fresh (not always easy to find) then it is indeed preferable to crackers. Backpacking for a month or so in France when I was 17 (so so long ago) I pretty much lived off baguettes with brie and cheap plonk. Good times.

        And speaking of baguettes with brie, Twin Peaks provides.

    All cheese is damn good cheese.

    I love cauliflower cheese done 3 ways with 4 cheese sauce

    Pickled cauliflower, deep fried cauliflower and boiled cauliflower with a cheese sauce made from pecorino, red Leicester, gruyere and either a blue cheese or goats cheese then baked in the oven with breadcrumbs and grated cheddar and parmesan on top ☺

      I'd never considered deep frying cauliflower for cauliflower cheese. I'm gonna be all over that. Thanks!

        Oh it's so good! The pickled cauliflower adds crunch and freshness while the fried cauliflower adds depth of flavour. You can adjust the proportions according to taste but I go with 1/3rd of each

          Do you use a bechamel?

            Nah I use Heston Blumenthal's foolproof cheese sauce recipe.

            Reduce 500ml of chicken or veggie stock to 250ml add some white wine and mix a couple of tablespoons of cornflour into your grated cheese or cheeses. Take the stock off the heat and mix the cheese and flour mixture into it and combine over a low heat until melted. Finally stir in your soft cheese and incorporate.

            This recipe doesn't kill any of the cheesy flavours of your cheeses like bechamel or a typical white sauce can do.

              I'll give that a try. Thanks! I'm an obsessive maker of stock, so there's always plenty of chicken stock (individual 100ml portions) in the freezer.

              Last edited 04/10/16 2:25 pm

      I recently had a crack at the evaporated milk method for cheese sauce. 1 can of evaporated (not condensed!) milk, a tablespoon of cornflour and a big pile of grated cheese (1-2 cups). Mix the flour with the cheese. Warm the milk until it just starts to simmer, and add the cheese. Stir and stir until it turns into a really decadent sauce. It's perfect for nachos or a hot party dip (add some diced jalapeno or sriracha). If you use 50-50 cheddar and red leicester, it has a lovely colour too.

    I lived in France for a couple of years and made a point to try as many different cheeses as I came across. I got up to about 80 or so.

    As Alex says, Roquefort sauce is really great on a regular steak, but it is even better on a thick pavé de boeuf (rump steak filet, about 2 inches thick) which has been seared, finished in the oven, lightly covered in a red wine glaze and then finished with the cheese sauce.

    Tiramisu is another favourite cheese dish of mine. I will disregard the recipe and use copious quantities of strong coffee and Marsala, adding it to the mascarpone mixture as well as dunking the savoiardi biscuits in it.

    Try buying a roll of fresh or semi-fresh goat's cheese (not ashed) and putting slices of it on a thin crust pizza base over a simple tomato and herb sauce.

    A medium-hard sheep's cheese like Ossau-iraty is absolutely superb when paired with a black cherry confit (preferably unsweetened).

    Damn, making myself hungry.

      "Damn, making myself hungry."

      You're making me hungry as well.

      Oh man, I ate some goat's cheese at a family gathering about a year ago. Couple days later I was struck down by an agonizingly painful bout of gout. I blame the cheese because (a) that was about the only thing I ate around that time that I don't normally eat and (b) I haven't experienced it before or since and don't really fit the risk profile (apart from my age) ie I don't generally overeat or drink too much, I get plenty of exercise etc.

      So yeah - no more goat cheese for me :P I don't ever want to experience that again.

    You aren't a cheese fanatic until you've tried Casu Marzu

      "The maggots, starved for oxygen, writhe and jump in the bag, creating a "pitter-patter" sound. When the sounds subside, the maggots are dead and the cheese can be eaten."

      No thanks. I'll stick with being a cheese aficionado :-)

    Glad you mentioned Aldi cheese - it's my source of affordable haloumi and red leicester! Also, always check coles/woolies delis for cheese that's been discounted because it's close to it's "use-by" date (lol) - it's always the nicest, ripest, stinkiest cheese and it's on sale - wooo!

    Also, while we all agree that fresh grated cheese is the best, if you find yourself with a bag of pre-grated cheese (because we are all lazy sometimes, it's ok), freeze it. Cheese freezes really well, and you can throw the frozen cheese on your lazy pasta bake and it will turn out great.

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