Imported Cheeses

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Cheese has been made and cultivated for thousands of years resulting in many styles, textures,flavors and aromas. Earthen cellars and stony caves, with high moisture and cooler temperatures,became the warehouses of numerous delightful cheeses. Much like the craft beer movement,cheese has come into its Renaissance with a great resurgence across our country.

Fresh & Unripened – These cheeses are made to be eaten in their simplicity, quickly and without delay. Familiar styles within this group are cottage cheese, fromage blanc, farmer’s cheese, queso fresco and the traditional French chevre. The most famous and most commonly eaten cheese in this country, mozzarella, also falls within this grouping. Although a pasta-filata, or stretched curd cheese, real fresh mozzarella was traditionally eaten immediately, even within hours of being made. Fresh and unripened cheeses are often used as ingredients, in both sweet or savory recipes, baked in pastries, layered or stuffed in pasta… the uses are endless.

Ripened or Aged – This vast group summarizes any cheese that is not eaten fresh, categorized by texture, from soft to hard. Typically sorted by moisture level, they can be held and cured for days, up to a year through the laborious care of aging experts. Flavors are intensified and refined, from mild and buttery to dry and crystallized with complex profiles.

Soft-ripened – These cheeses are characterized by the cultures and molds used to age them. The fleuri or flowery crust created by wonderful molds give us distinct cheeses such as Brie, Camembert and Robiola. Others are washed with brine or flavorful liquids to develop enzymes and bacteria, often becoming quite pungent! French Munster, Taleggio and Epoisse are prime examples.

Semi-soft – These cheeses can be with or without rind development and pressed or unpressed. Many can be eaten within days or weeks of production, but others are left for months of refinement. Favorites include Havarti, Port-Salut and Chimay.

Semi-firm to Hard – Many styles exist within this sub-category such as cooked curd, pressed cheese and extreme-aged Grana-styles (grating) like Parmigiano-Reggiano and Grana Padano. Cheddar is milled and pressed into forms or blocks, then aged for various lengths of time. Others are washed with brine solutions or smears to develop greater flavors, such as Comte and Gruye`re. Gouda cheese, a tradition of the Netherlands, truly spans the range from semi-firm to hard, with each age profile having a distinct following.

Blue – Most blue cheeses are ripened with special molds that often add striations throughout the interior of the cheese, though there are some that are ripened on the exterior. Famous cheeses in this group are Roquefort, Danablu, Stilton and Gorgonzola. Many of these cheeses are developed with no rind, thus various wrappings are used to protect them and should not be removed before using.