Update: We're back! We moved from Mississauga to St. Catharines and purchasing cheese has become somewhat of a challenge. We no longer have one cheese store that we deal with and are now sourcing our cheese from Hamilton to Niagara-on-the-Lake, utilizing 2 small specialty cheese stores, two supermarkets and believe it or not Amazon.ca, how things can change!
Loraine and I are cheese people. Note; I said cheese people not cheesy people! Meaning, that we like a lot of different cheeses, that being said, and I think that Loraine would agree, that the cheeses from Switzerland and France are our favorites. We cook with them, cut them into cubes for snacking and spread them on; as close to out of the oven, baguettes.
One thing that definitely stood out in our European travels is that there are hundreds of artisan cheeses made in small villages that you cannot get outside of that village or county, especially in France, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy and to some extent the UK, Spain and Portugal.
The following list represents our go-to cheeses. With all the cheeses we have tried over the years we seem to fall back on these ones when we are making something for a dinner party and experimentation is out of the question.
Manchego cheese is, by far, the most popular cheese in Spain and once you try it you will understand why. Manchego uses raw unpasteurized sheep's milk from Manchega sheep. The cheese is semi-hard and can be easily identified by its herringbone rind and sweet flavor. This is the best description I have found: Symphonic strokes of fruits and nuts resonate in clear unison along zesty undertones of piquancy. Induced by the woven mold of grass, unique to Manchego, aromas of dried herbs marinate the interior in vivid contrasts. YouTube has a video on the making of Manchego cheese: Making Manchego Cheese
Applewood Smoked Cheddar
This is the cheese that we use in our glop recipe for the mornay sauce. We also use this cheese on hamburgers and it is an excellent cheese for a cheese plate!
Applewood smoked cheddar is a fairly dense semi-hard cheese. It is not smoked, but is instead the cheese is coated with mild smoked paprika, giving it a golden-amber appearance. The smoked flavour of the cheese does not leave a burnt aftertaste.
It is produced in Somerset, England.
Is a firm, raw cow's milk cheese associated with the Gruyère family. An Alpine cheese, it is produced in Beaufort, which is located in the Savoie region of the French Alps. This is a great nibbling cheese and it is so smooth that it is very easy to over indulge.
Chateau de Bourgogne
A voluptuous cream cheese, made in Burgundy, France. This amazing cheese is made in the traditional style of a triple-cream. It is similar to the famous Brillat Savarin.
The interior of the cheese is creamy, rich and extremely smooth. The aroma is somewhat buttery, with a hint of nuts.
We made it a Sunday brunch with a fresh and warm Ace Bakery Ciabatta Lunga.
The quality of this cheese comes from a local cheese dairy where the cheese is hand-crafted with farm-fresh raw milk according to old recipes. After five months of being washed with a secret brine, the cheese unfolds its delicate texture and a full aroma of wild honey with notes of pimiento and apricot. We use this cheese in many dishes and just for snacking. It is our choice for our Blueberry, Peach Roasted Chicken Breast recipe.
Fior Delle Alpi
Is the cheese that we have chosen to use when we make Veal Princess Orloff (Julia Child's recipe) for guests. Lush pastures with the finest herbs give the fresh mountain milk its unique spicy and mature aroma. In this small Swiss mountain dairy the cheese is handcrafted to an ancient recipe.
Fromager d'Affinois with Truffles
This is a double-crème cheese with black truffles. It is one of our first choices when creating a cheese board as hors d'oeuvres for a dinner party. It is unique in the world of double-crème, as it ages it still maintains a firm paste in the center.
and last but definitely not least;
Gabriel Coulet Roquefort Castelviel cheese
This is an exceptional artisan produced Roquefort cheese. It is made in wheels and has a salty, spicy complex flavor. We use this cheese in salads and with chocolate balsamic vinegar on bread.
Loraine and I were treated to a taste of Iberico cheese from Spain and we were very impressed with the flavor and texture. Iberico is made from a mixture of pasteurized cow, sheep, and goat milk. The ratio of milk used in the making of this hard cheese is constantly altered according to seasons, weather and the breeding of the animals. However, the Iberico cheese contains at least 50% cow milk, 30% goat milk and 10% sheep milk. We didn't leave our cheese shop without buying a small wedge.
Le Pleine Lune
As mentioned in the opening of this page, at times buying cheese, when you are living in St. Catharines can be challenging. A new Farm Boy supermarket opened and we went to investigate. They have a some nice cheeses and when we asked for a Chateau de Bourgogne or other French cream cheese we were told that they only carry them at Christmas. But the cheese lady highly recommended the Le Pleine Lune. Reluctantly we bought it and were pleasantly surprised. The cheese is made in Quebec. It is a soft surface-ripened cheese with a fine velvety surface covered in vegetable ash. This cheese releases fresh mushroom aromas ending with peppery flavours. Its slow maturation progresses from the outside inwards to develop a perfectly creamy texture. Delicately acidic when young, through ripening it develops hot milk and buttery aromas. It is not a replacement for a French cream cheese but it is a nice cheese.
Of course you can't cook unless you have a wedge of true Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese in the refrigerator. We use it to finish all of our pasta dishes as well as our Caesar salad. There are some subtle differences in flavor between the different processors of this cheese, but we haven't found any that make a real difference to the finished pasta or salad.
This is the most decadent triple-crème-style cheese we have ever consumed. It is made in Seine-et-Marne, France. The cheese is buttery, smooth, and mild. This cheese should be eaten spread on a torn piece of fresh baguette or ciabatta bread.
Roquefort Papillon Noir
When we want a fantastic Blue Cheese we choose Roquefort Papillon Noir. This cheese is characterized by its white paste and the generous streaks of intense blue in its broad and numerous cavities. Its rich and flexible texture develops a delicious fondant accompanied by a typical balanced and long-lasting taste. Only the milk of specially bred sheep is used, then it is ripened in limestone caverns.
Tête de Moine
Loraine and I were first introduced to Tête de Moine by friends in Switzerland. We were invited over to their home for the day and in the afternoon we were served Tête de Moine mounted on a cheese curler, with some excellent wine, while we sat outside in their garden. The cheese itself is produced in less than ten village dairies in its region of origin according to the strict requirements set out in the AOP specifications. It is kept on spruce wood boards for at least two and a half months. For more information visit: Cheeses from Switzerland
Von Mühlenen Gruyère
An extraordinary Gruyère, with a unique, strong but pleasant taste with a fine texture. Exclusively produced in the Fribourg region of Switzerland. We use this cheese for cheese boards and cooking. It is the cheese we use most often in our French onion soup.