by Stephanie Willard, Downtown Specialty Cheese
The cheese case can be overwhelming. Don’t know where to start? These selections offer something to please everyone.
Benning Goat Gouda
Popular Dutch cheese with a pleasantly mild, fresh taste and pure white color. It is made from light, fresh goat’s milk, formed into classic Gouda-style wheels and aged to a rich, yet mellow, flavor and a creamy smooth texture. It’s a great “beginners” goat cheese.
Uses: Texture is firm enough to slice or cube, but also melts beautifully in anything: omelets, pizza, or quesadillas.
Mild, buttery flavor reminiscent of a silky triple-crème. The texture is a thick, nearly whipped spread of tangy, milky goodness. A flawless rind adds flavor to the sweetness of the cheese.
Uses: Popular on cheese platters with a sweetness that pairs well with champagne and fresh fruit. Smooth and gooey when warm from the oven: serve with crackers or toasted crusty French bread slices, topped with Divina Sour Cherry Spread, or wrapped in phyllo and baked for an impressive Brie en Croûte.
Creamy texture with nutty, earthy flavors that range from stone fruit to brown butter. Captures the essence of a raw-milk, mountain pasture-fed cow’s milk cheese.
Uses: Super versatile and fairly firm, it can be sliced, cubed, or grated. Great eaten by itself, or used in cooking. Those nutty flavors work well melted into everything from fondue to Croque Monsieur—or jazz up a bowl of mac & cheese, sprinkle over veggies, or fold into a plate of eggs.
Melt-in-your-mouth, buttery, full but mild flavor, with notes of sweet grass and wildflowers. A thick, creamy disc of fresh sheep’s milk with a fudgy center and downy velvet rind. The sheep graze lush floral pastures on the Causses, a group of limestone plateaus rich in minerality in the South of France.
Uses: At room temperatures, it gets almost unctuous and runny, making it perfect to spread on crackers or a baguette with sour cherry jam and toasted nuts on the side.
Brie du Pommier
Classic bloomy rind and soft paste with earthy and vegetal aromas that intensify as the cheese ripens. Full-flavored and mildly funky, with flavors that range from milk and sweet cream to mushroom and cauliflower.
Uses: follow suggestions for Fromager d’Affinois
Delicious shimmery spreads from Divina are customer and staff favorites all year long, but particularly popular during the holiday entertaining season.
Uses: Serve one of these spreads on the side or generously spread over a rich brie or smooth goat cheese to instantly elevate your appetizer plate. Choose from sour cherry, fig, and orange fig.
These olives were my gateway olive. Never having liked olives in the past, I was encouraged to try these. I was not disappointed. Castelvetranos upon first glance stand out because of their lively, pale shade of green. They are firm and meaty with a mild and buttery taste that’s both salty and sweet. They appeal not only to olive aficionados, but also to those who shy away from stronger, brinier varieties.