What's in My Cheese Compartment Right Now

Bleu d'Auvergne, strong, not for wimps

Although I live in Wisconsin and love traveling to France, I don't have any special knowledge of cheese: in fact, I learn something new all the time.

Tasting cheese is more enjoyable for me than tasting wine, beer, or even coffee. And yes, even chocolate.

When we finally gave our refrigerator a good cleaning yesterday, tossing out the contents of outdated bottles and jars and recycling the glass, there wasn't much left other than cheese.

Here's what's in my cheese box right this minute:

Goat Cheese (chevre): This month's must-try flavor is Fig-Olive. I'm thinking on a baguette. Also great with many vegetables, especially beets and green salads, plus truffles, tarts and dips.

Mozzarella Sticks: For impromptu snacks and hunger that sneaks up on me: I just grab a mozzarella stick. Alternate: Cheese curds, definitely a Wisconsin classic. Beer cheese curds are great!

Cheddar Cheese: For anything than involves apples, cheddar is the perfect foil. Great in scrambled eggs, on crackers and sandwiches. A must for a grilled cheese sandwich. My husband and I recently tasted five English cheddars; a red cheddar was our favorite.

Blue Cheese: This month, it's Maytag, given to me by a friend who knows I like it. For salads, mostly, but I once made blue cheese muffins. Uh, no. On the other hand, bleu d'Auvergne (above) is a robust blue cheese from France's Massif Centrale, with a creamy, grassy taste. One of the "smelly cheeses."

Gruyere Cheese: For any dish with potatoes that needs a flavor boost - and for fondue. A Swiss cheese, Gruyere nonetheless make a great topping for Croque Madame, a staple in casual French bistros.

Gouda: One of my favorites, for snacking on a cracker. A semi-hard Dutch cheese, Gouda is smooth and rich, with a waxed rind.

Parmesan Cheese: I love this on anything Italia, but mostly as topping on baked dishes like lasagna. I sprinkle it in salads, too, and on pizzas that are nearly ready to remove from the oven.

I've been lucky enough to find these very special cheeses at my local supermarket:

St. Paulin, mild and creamy, a semi-soft cheese from Brittany.

Pave d'Affinois, creamy and great on a tart or on a baguette.

Crottin de Champcol, also good in a tart recipe.

This very special Asiago is a rare treat, best when grated over warm pasta

I have to wonder, how will we refer to US-made cheese if this EU effort is successful?


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