"Cheese is the purest, most romantic link between humans and the earth." -Pierre Androuet, Guide du Fromage
Artisan cheeses come from all over the United States, as well as from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Greece. They're produced from the milk of goats, cows, sheep, and buffalo, and their range of textures includes very soft, soft, semi-soft, semi-hard, and hard. The spectrum of flavors goes from mild to strong (or sharp). These cheeses are often molded by hand in small quantities, and it can be hard to resist taking them all home to try! Here is a small sampling of European cheeses as featured on the cheese board at Cetrella restaurant. Roll your mouse over the cheeses to learn a bit about each one.
A few cheesy facts
What's the difference between sheep's, goat's, and cow's cheese? "The difference between the three milks is their composition or structure. The milks have different protein structures, different fatty acids, and different butterfat contents. This is part of the reason that each milk, when it becomes cheese, tastes different from the others. There are other factors too, including how each animal metabolizes what they eat. That translates directly to the milk. For example, goats don't metabolize carotene the way that cows do. As a result, goat's milk remains snow white in color, while cow's milk has a yellowish or sometimes orangeish hue." -Laura Werlin, The All American Cheese and Wine Book
Which types of milk are used for aged cheeses? "When it comes to aging, some milks lend themselves to aging longer than others-that is, cow's and sheep's milk cheeses tend to be aged longer than goat's milk cheeses because of their structure. However, there are at least three California goat cheese producers who are making long-aged goat's milk cheeses. Those cheeses are extremely flavorful-nutty, caramel-like, and yet fruity. Still, they tend to be more dry and crumbly than their cow's and sheep's milk cheese counterparts." -Laura Werlin, The All American Cheese and Wine Book
What makes blue cheese blue? "A beneficial mold called Penicillium Roqueforti. A cousin to the penicillin that fights infection in people, it gives a wonderful flavor to cheese, and protects against any undesirable molds and bacteria." -Dan Strongin, Edible Solution (www.ediblesolution.com)
Why is one cheese soft, like a Brie, and another cheese firm, like Parmesan? "Milk is made up of many nutrients, among them a protein called casein. During cheesemaking, milk is fermented by a collection of beneficial bacteria we call a starter culture. Enzymes released by the starter culture change casein, milk protein, in a process called proteolysis. This controls whether a cheese is soft or firm. How well and how long you heat the curds, how you manipulate the curd, and the kind of rind you cultivate also have some influence, but for the most part you need to choose the right starter culture for the right kind of cheese." -Dan Strongin, Edible Solution (www.ediblesolution.com)
Is "raw milk" cheese safe? "If a cheese is made with raw milk and aged over 60 days, as required by Federal Law, it is as safe as a cheese made with pasteurized milk. Of course, you only want to eat cheeses made by professional cheesemakers that are regularly inspected, whether raw or pasteurized. The reason raw milk, which in rare cases can carry organisms that make you ill, is safe in cheese aged over 60 days is because cheese is cultured. Beneficial bacteria are added to the cheese which wipe out all competition and protect their turf, much like gangs. After 60 days, any unwanted bacteria have been vanquished." -Dan Strongin, Edible Solution (www.ediblesolution.com)