Cheese is a great source of calcium and protein. It plays an important role in maintaining healthy bones and teeth, blood clotting, wound healing and is said to be good for your heart. But there is more to this healthy snack than you think. Did you know cheese making is depicted in ancient Egyptian tomb murals dating back over 4,000 years. Archaeologists studying pottery fragments found at Stonehenge have concluded that ancient builders offered up cheese, yogurt and milk to the gods.
Cheese is a Food Fit for the Gods
Cheese-making is depicted in ancient Egyptian tomb murals dating back over 4,000 years
Cheese is so highly valued in Greek culture that there is even a Greek god, Aristaeus, designated to the art of cheese-making.
Archaeologists studying pottery fragments found at Stonehenge have concluded that ancient builders offered up cheese, yogurt and milk to the gods.
The word cheese comes from the Latin word “caseus” which means “to ferment.”
Group of Seven Cheeses
The amount of moisture (or whey) left in a cheese dictates both the texture of the cheese and the nature of the rind. With this in mind, international cheese expert Juliet Harbutt has identified SEVEN different types of cheese.
Fresh Cheese: no rind, high moisture, mild taste. Think halloumi, ricotta, feta, mozzarella, mascarpone.
Aged Fresh Cheese: thin rind, white, gray or blue mold. Think Valençay , clochette, Sainte-Maure de Touraine AOC.
Soft White Cheese: velvety white rind, creamy, mushroom-y taste. Think brie, Camembert.
Semi-Soft Cheese: thin/dry to orange/sticky rind, mild to pungent. Think Taleggio, Langres, Edam.
Hard Cheese: rough or polished rind, crumbly to brittle. Think Manchego, Emmentaler, Cheddar.
Blue Cheese: sticky to crusty rind, streaked with blue mold, tangy. Think Stilton, Roquefort, Gorgonzola.
Flavour-Added Cheese: colourful rinds, hard or semi-soft. Think Wensleydale with cranberries, nagelkaas (gouda with cloves).
Gino’s Pro Cheese Tips
We asked Gino Marghella, the Italian Centre’s General Manager and resident cheese expert to share his top tips on cheese.
Store your cheese wrapped in paper or parchment and sealed in a plastic container. Beeswax wrap works too but avoid using plastic wrap as cheese needs to breathe.
When building a cheese board, try to choose a range of cheeses with different textures, shapes and colours. Odd numbers always look best.
When shopping for cheese, don’t be afraid to ask the deli counter pros for their suggestions and don’t be afraid to explore new cheeses with different tastes and smells.
Remember, cheese that might be funky to the nose actually tastes great on the palate.
Purchase around 100g per person to start or end a meal.
Cheese should be brought to room temperature before serving.
CHEESE THE DAY
Is it just us or do you find yourself staring at the cheese case bleary-eyed and confused, not knowing what to choose? To save face, I usually ask the shop owner for suggestions. Here are some standouts they recommend we try.
Peasant Cheese Shop
1249 Kensington Rd. N.W. | 587.353.3599
PICOBELLO A Dutch gouda with an Italian twist.
Picobello is a dry gouda with notes of toffee and nuttiness. It pairs best with Alsatian wines or dark ales.
ST. ANGEL A triple-cream, velvet-rind brie.
Originating from the Côtes du Rhone area in southeastern France, St. Angel has a delicate, bloomy white rind and a hint of mushroom flavour that becomes richer with age. It pairs well with sparkling wine and ripe berries.
#20, 2015 32nd Ave. N.E. | 403.764.9764
MEDITERRANEAN STRING CHEESE Traditional Middle Eastern artisanal cheese.
This highly-ranked cheese is stretched several times while hot until thin strings are formed. It is then cooled rapidly in cold water and brined overnight to add saltiness. In most cases, kalonji (nigella) seeds are added to enhance its flavour. Can be enjoyed as is or on sandwiches.
HALLOUMI Semi-hard un-ripened “squeaky” cheese.
Famous for its high-melting point, Halloumi is an un-ripened cheese made from a mixture of goat and sheep’s milk. It holds its shape even after being fried making it a versatile ingredient. Try it marinated and grilled or simply fried in slices.
FLEUR EN LAIT A semi-soft rustic cheese made in Lancaster, Ontario.
Somewhat of a newcomer to the cheese scene, Fleur en Lait, made in the style of Saint Paulin, is produced in Lancaster, Ontario. Sweet, fruity, yellow and buttery, Fleur en Lait has a thin, edible orange rind and offers a robust, rustic aroma.
LE MARECHAL Alpine cheese made from raw milk.
Infused with herbs during the ripening stage, Le Marechal is produced in the heart of the Vaud countryside in Switzerland. Robust, fragrant and herbaceous, Le Marechal pairs well with figs, olives and dry white wine.