Friday, 21 June 2013

Friday Five: Big Cheeses

Not long ago I made a comment to a friend that mainstream New Zealand ‘tasty’ cheese was in breach of the Trade Descriptions Act. I stand by this assertion as much of the stuff on the supermarket shelves has the taste and constituency of rubber. When I first arrived in New Zealand (1996) I was horrified at the state of dairy products on general sale. I had grown up in England eating Anchor butter and I really did think this was to be the land of milk and honey. Well, perhaps they exported all the good stuff, because it certainly wasn’t here.

The cheese in America was also a huge disappointment. This was the land that gave us those tasteless slices of bright yellow synthetic material that you melted on top of your burgers. A friend told me she once put one in the microwave and forgot to remove it from its plastic pocket. It was only the constituency of it that alerted her to her error – she couldn’t actually taste the difference.

And yet the cheeses in Britain and Europe are sensational. I came to believe nowhere else could actually make it. I realise now that this is untrue: many countries copy the style of our cheeses very well indeed; I have tasted a fabulous Australian Gouda, an excellent New Zealand blue stilton and Kapiti Port Wine Cheddar, also from New Zealand, which is superb.

Five Great Cheeses:
  1. Brie/ camembert – on a cycling holiday around the champagne region with Him Outdoors, we would buy a baguette, a couple of tomatoes and a round of cheese each morning from the market and pop it into our panniers. We picnicked each lunch-time as the cheese had softened to perfection; slightly gooey and runny and perfect with the bottle of bubbles.
  2. Gorgonzola – rich, creamy, smelly and blue. It goes beautifully with fruit, nuts and dessert wines. It’s also delicious on pizza.
  3. Mozzarella di bufala – another cycling holiday (in Italy this time, obviously); another discovery. This creamy white confection was delicious with sliced tomatoes, salami and basil on garlic bruschetta drizzled with olive oil. Or just on its own. With chianti.
  4. Cheddar – tart, rich, mouth-filling goodness. So versatile it can be used for almost anything, but at its best in a cheese and pickle sandwich.
  5. Feta – the goats’ milk variety in particular. When I get stressed I get digestive issues and at my worst had to avoid all dairy products. I could cope without butter and yoghurt and made do with soy milk, but it was too painful to be cheese-free and goat’s feta saved my taste buds, if not my lactose intolerant insides.
Gorgonzola at the Adelaide Central Market

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