Friday, September 23, 2011

Are you scared to try new cheeses?

According to a survey by the British Cheese Board released today one in 10 of us is scared of trying a new cheese.

I suppose one should be heartened that 9 in 10 of us aren't but I always find it surprising that anyone is scared of food. I only have to find out about a new cheese - or new anything - and I want to try it and I guess that applies to many of my regular readers too.

But suppose you do feel like that? How do you move out of your cheddar (and, I suspect, brie) comfort zone?

A lot of it I suspect has to do with intensity of flavours. I know many people - my husband is one - who don't like strong blues like Roquefort or stinky cheeses like Epoisses. But the answer is not to avoid that style of cheese completely but find a milder example of it.

If you find Stilton too strong for instance try a milder, mellower Barkham Blue or Gorgonzola Dolce.

If you run a mile from pongy cheeses try something like a Tallegio which has that gorgeously gooey interior of a washed rind cheese without its pungent smell.

You could also think of trying a sheeps' cheese like Manchego or Berkswell which doesn't tend to be too strong or a mature Gouda or Mimolette which has a nicely rounded nutty flavour. (Waitrose does unscary examples of all these.)

And what about the many other English regional cheeses, many of them mild and mellow - Caerphilly, Wensleydale and Red Leicester to name but three?

Of course the best way to extend your knowledge of cheese is to go to a cheese shop or deli that will let you have a taste - or, if you're in the vicinity, head for the British Cheese Festival in Cardiff this weekend. Or come to our Cheese School on October 30th, says she, ruthlessly grasping the opportunity for a quick plug!

You can also identify the British cheeses you might like on the British Cheese Board's new flavour map. Click on the pins near the centre for milder cheeses.

Try one new cheese a month and you'll soon be an expert.

Do you stick to the same few cheeses? If you tell me what they are I'll suggest a new cheese for you to try!


Dom at Belleau Kitchen said...

i'm not scared... I will eat any cheese and often try and new one... I o stick to my weekly basics such as a strong cheddar, and edam and a red leicster but these are your basic 'on toast' types of cheese, then I will always buy one 'special' every week... heaven!

Fiona Beckett said...

Good for you, Dom!

John Eats Cheese said...

I guess most people don't really understand that even the foulest, perceivably disgusting cheese can be a delicious treat. I guess to some, some cheeses may just seem like rotting garbage, because they don't understand just what about the milk, the ripening, the cheese maker that makes it really great. This disconnect in thinking actually creates somewhat of a slippery slope though, where we might imply that cheese making is an artform that can only be appreciated by professionals--this, of course, is not true. Initially, this was how I explained my own aversion to trying new cheeses, but have since denounced this way of thinking as rather silly.

Much like fine wines, fine cheeses can also be rather expensive, which is probably my only barrier at the moment...

Cheese mongers and shops are pretty good sources of information; they will also, in most cases let you try several different cheeses before buying them.

Fiona Beckett said...

You're right, John, it is a bit of a journey. You don't fall in love with strong-tasting cheeses overnight anymore than you get straight into drinking full-bodied reds. Like your blog though!

Anonymous said...

Caerphilly English? Shame on you.