Ten essential cheeses

When I was growing up, cheese in our household was almost exclusively of the processed variety. Some even came out of a jar, like yellow glue. Grandma and Grandpa would have the real stuff – Colby longhorn or a bitter Swiss, mostly. It wasn’t until I was off on my own after college – and in the ashram, especially – that I discovered how marvelous natural cheese could be.

Here are ten favorites.

  1. Cheddar. These days, we rely on Cabot. Mild to sharp, it’s all good.
  2. Calef’s. A general store in a neighboring town makes its own, starting with rat trap but extending into cheddar. The roasted garlic and wasabi variations are special treats here, especially after picking apples.
  3. Mozzarella. Lovely stringiness for pizzas and French onion soup.
  4. Parmesan. Grated on soups, pastas, and salads, of course, but also delightful with eggplant.
  5. Feta. Let’s start on salads for a Greek twist.
  6. Baby Swiss. Especially when made by nearby Amish cooperatives as I learned living in Ohio.
  7. Provolone. Love it on sandwiches, hot or cold.
  8. Gruyere. Uncork a wine, too, and open the crackers.
  9. Gouda. Ditto. With a sliced apple, anyone?
  10. Cream. For bagels and cheesecakes, especially.

What would you add to the list?

7 thoughts on “Ten essential cheeses

    • I’m not that big on bleu but definitely like Havarti. Oka is one we’ll have to check out.
      Ten is rather confining here, admittedly. Even ten cheddars could be awfully limited.

  1. Gorgonzola sprinkled over spinach sautéed in olive oil with red pepper flakes.

    Blue cheese with a sliced pear.

    White Vermont cheddar on a Triscuit

  2. My weakness and delight. I would add goat cheese, also a tropical kind of cheese called Requeson – kind of a white soft and sweet cheese. It is very easy to make at home. Take milk, even milk that is at its last day will do, pour in a pot at medium heat and add salt/sugar to taste and the juice of a lemon to cut the milk and separate it. Add the lemon while stirring slowly and eventually the cheese will start to form and the water in the milk will separate. Drain, and once it cools off, squeeze the remaining water from the cheese, and give it a shape, a ball shape or whatever shape you desire. Place in the refrigerator covered so it hardens a bit. If you don’t have any kind of lemon juice, vinegar will do the trick too. Perfect recipe when a gallon of milk is ready to expire.

    • My wife’s made that though not under that name. It’s killer spread on sun-dried tomato pesto. She hasn’t made it in the past few years, but she definitely appreciates the reminder! And so do I … yummy.

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