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Food For Thought: Exotic Cheeses Transforming Culinary Possibilities
1/21/2015 2:25:42 PM

Assortment of brie cheese (Credit: The Cheeses of Europe)

Recipe card (Credit: The Cheeses of Europe)
By Damion Smalls

In this day and age, saying that you’re a cheese lover while only enjoying American, Cheddar, or Mozzarella varieties are the most basic and myopic statements about food that one could make. With access to cheeses from all over the world, recipes are rapidly adapting with the times to include non-traditional ingredients.
Just thinking about the implications of a cheese coup d'état rocked my mind.  “Cheese in apple pie: Un-American! Watermelon with cheese: Insanity!” Luckily, specifically those two examples actually sound reasonable to me now after a visit from the wonderful people at The Cheeses of Europe.
At a recent cheese tasting at our offices with a co-worker, a sample of ‘Magnifique’ European cheeses were provided for us. I looked forward to the event for weeks as I always am interested to learn about and try cheeses I usually pass on when I go to Trader Joe’s or Earth Fare, rationalizing that they’re too expensive and not even tasty anyway. I am now glad to be proven wrong on both fronts.
Representatives from the French Cheese Club, Interval USA, Lactalis American Group, and Isigny Ste. Mère made this Cheeses of Europe tasting worthwhile with their knowledge and passion for the beloved dairy product. The selection was very impressive; styles varied from strong-odored chunks of fromage to buttery spreads. Each rep had something special to offer.
The French Cheese Club brought three cheeses to the table. “Delice de Bourgogne” was an aromatic and creamy delight. “Epoisses” also made quite the impression with its almost overpowering smell which belied its soft, pleasing taste. “Pont L'Eveque” was another soft, smelly cheese that was full of flavor.
Interval USA provided “Whipped Cheese”, which was among my favorites from the presentation. Lighter and sweeter than cream cheese, its potential uses are infinite and exciting. “Saint Angel” tasted like a more solid version of the whipped cheese, a definite plus. I’d have to say that the “Bleu D'Auvergne” was the least satisfying cheese that I tasted from the samples as I am a staunch bleu cheese denouncer, which will never change no matter how European it may be. And it was Very European, too. ‘The Swiss Superman’ Cesaro probably would have loved it, though.
The Lactalis American Group introduced two brie cheeses, “Le Châtelain” and “L’Indulgent Triple Cream”. “Le Châtelain” was mild enough to be a fitting companion with apples or grapes. “L’Indulgent” was a richer version of brie and a smooth delicacy that would be a game-changing substitute for cheddar in a Mac & Cheese recipe in my opinion.
Isigny Ste. Mère was kind enough to prepare four samples that took my taste buds for a lovely ride.   “Bonhomme French Brie” utilized its high butterfat content to be one of the more versatile cheeses of the samples. It goes great with wine, savory and sweet foods. “Camembert” was very creamy, almost to the point of being gooey somehow. It makes sense seeing how it was practically oozing with flavor. The “Mimolettes” (aged 3 months and 18 months) were both sharp and the hardest cheeses of all the samples. I felt that the older cheese tasted slightly better. The deep orange color of those cheeses were jarring to say the least, though. “Beurre churn” was technically butter but I did not mind as it stands to be the best tasting butter that my mouth has experienced to this point. I’d pay good money for more of it (and will, most likely invariably).
I can’t lie; I felt very sophisticated tasting and judging all of these European (French, mostly) cheeses. It left me with a sense of enlightenment and achievement. Eyes were opened as this visit has caught me up on where the cheese market is going. It’s easily trending upward with the proliferation of specialty shops and online accessibility. I suggest you readers to look into these selections if you consider yourself a fan of cheese. It can’t hurt to try something new (unless you’re lactose intolerant; which if you are and still like cheese, you already know more about cheese than I do because that seems like a bold life choice to make).
For more information and recipes, visit There, you’ll find the “mimolette apple pie” and “watermelon salad with camembert” concoctions that I alluded to in the beginning, among other revelations. The cheeses are available online and some locally at aforementioned grocery stores as well as Whole Foods. 

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