Cheese is as diverse and complex as any category the food world has to offer. Similar only to wine in terms of both depth and breadth, a thorough exploration of the world’s cheese is a life long pursuit that requires a huge amount of enthusiasm. Some find this amount of information intimidating while others are bored. In cases like this, it is often best to move slowly, allowing the brain to absorb small bits of knowledge over a long period. Consider this article a first step down the cheese path.
Everyone is making cheese these days. The usual suspects: France, Italy, Spain, the UK and the United States produce the most readily available product but are not the only players. In fact, a list of those countries not producing cheese would be a better use of time and space. The point is, everyone is participating and in greater numbers than ever before. The current wave of culinary prosperity has furthered both the awareness of cheese in general and the production of new cheeses. In the United States, this phenomenon is similar to the explosion of micro breweries experienced not long ago. At this point in time, those who have any interest, whatsoever, in beer or cheese can read and sample for days on end and only scratch the surface. Take advantage of the opportunity.
There are those among us who love cheese so much that a term has been created for them as an “ilk” of sorts. The word is caseophile, or cheese hyper-enthusiast. They would have everyone fall in love with textures that range from chalky to spongy or smooth. Smells that can remind you of a hot day in the barnyard or a spring afternoon in a meadow full of flowers. Tastes vary wildly and can be moldy, buttery or gently herbal. To put it another way, there is no room for the weak. A lover of cheese must be adventurous, fearless and willing to taste varying degrees of spoiled goat, sheep and cows’ milk. If this sounds like fun to you then ,please, join the club.
The golden rule, that must be followed in order to become a serious cheese person, is taste constantly. Simply, you can’t talk about what you haven’t had in your mouth. In order to expand your mental database of smells and flavors, visit Chez Melange in the Riviera Village. The daily happy hour features cheeses like Wabash Cannonball, a goat cheese from Indiana, and Epoisses de Bourgogne, the complex cows’ milk cheese that simultaneously challenges and surprises. If cheeses are to be taken home, visit the Bristol Farms on PCH or the Whole Foods located just south of Beryl on PCH. Become an open-minded cheese eater and enjoy, with extreme prejudice.