Thursday, August 16, 2012


     Do you love cheese? I do. However, not all cheeses are created equal. Some have pungent aromas and flavors that are too strong (or complex) for me to appreciate.
     Having spent time living in the UK and presently in Europe, I've had no shortage of cheeses to try. I like some European cheeses and some British cheeses. I recently acquired a taste for Brie (though I must have it warmed) and Wensleydale cheese with cranberries. If you haven't tried the Wensleydale, you're missing out on something heavenly! I never thought I would eat a cheese and think "I could have that for dessert. Just that cheese, nothing else".

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     What I find myself always going back to is good ol' Cheddar.  There's enough variety of strengths that you can get cheddar in, and that makes it a versatile cheese to have at home. It works in sandwiches, sauces, salads, pasta and even soup.
     I find that having a strong cheddar in the house ensures that I have a cheese that works for anything. I don't bother with mild cheddar. I go for mature or extra mature. Vintage cheddar is too much for me. It is easy for me to get Cathedral City brand extra mature cheddar in the Netherlands, where I live.

     I don't always have cheddar in the house. I do buy other cheeses. With only my husband and I living in the house, I can't buy too many cheeses at any one time because there is only so much cheese we can eat. And to be honest, I mostly use cheese as an ingredient in cooking instead of a sandwich filling.
    When we first came to Netherlands a year ago, I had no idea what cheese I was buying. Sure, the names are printed on the packages. But the names meant nothing to me because I didn't know what type of cheese they were. I developed a strategy to buying cheese: give it the 'squeeze test'. If it is too soft, don't buy it. If it is hard like a brick, don't buy it. Anything in between is fine. That worked well for me until my husband told me that he hated the cheese I was putting in his sandwiches. So we went back to cheddar.
    Talking to a neighbour, I was educated on the strengths of cheese sold here. "Jong" for young cheese (duhhh!), "Belegen" for mature cheese, "Extra belegen" for extra mature cheese, "Boerenkass" for farmer's cheese etc. That made things so much easier for me. I've now found a cheese we both like. And it is available in a lower-fat version as well!
    Maaslander. It's a brand of Gouda cheese. It is made with 25% less salt than other Gouda cheeses but it does not lack flavor. It has the right strength and texture to make it suitable for most things. It also melts well! So with this, I end my cheese rant.

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