The Art of CHEESE

The Art of CHEESE

PART 1 - GENERAL SECTION H

Know Your Cheese

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

1. Cheese has been valued as a food since before Roman invasion of Britain. It was recognised by the Romans as a valuable source of energy and was provided regularly as part of their soldiers rations. It is likely that prior to this time the ancient Britains made cheese of acid curd origin. Certainly within three hundred years of the occupation cheese making was a well established aspect of agriculture in Britain and was widely available as a popular and nourishing food.

PRODUCTION

2. Cheese is a solid product made from milk. It is produced by coagulating the protein (casein) in milk so that if forms curds, usually by adding rennet* (or a vegetable equivalent extracted from certain fungi) and a "starter" made from a culture or bacteria. After draining off the liquid (whey) the resultant curds are then pressed and formed into the particular shape required for the cheese variety, then stored for ripening. As cheese undergoes the ripening process it changes in taste, texture and appearance and each variety takes on its own special characteristic. Most cheese is made from cows' milk with a small amount of specialist cheese being made from ewes' or goats' milk. The type of milk and also the milk itself, (whether it is morning or evening milk or full cream or skimmed), combined with the different techniques used to separate the curds and whey (solids and liquids) and ripen the cheese, result in the many different types of cheese now available to us.

*Rennet: A preparation made from the stomach membrane of a calf.

3. Much of the popular cheese varieties we buy are produced in large quantities under factory conditions (Cheddar cheese particularly lends itself to this process) using pasteurized* skimmed, semi-skimmed or whole milk from various sources. They are also available as a "farmhouse" product, made by traditional methods on the farm and using unpasteurized whole milk from a single herd of cattle. The process is the same except that farmhouse is allowed to mature for longer than factory produced cheese, which gives an improved, more mellow flavour and a richer cheese. It therefore follows that farmhouse cheese will often cost more than the factory product.

4. Special varieties from certain areas cannot be produced in large quantities under factory conditions due to local climate seasonal changes and the type of feed required for the animal from which the milk is obtained. These varieties are not available in such quantities as the more popular cheeses and are bound to be more expensive and sometimes more difficult to obtain.

* Pasteurization: A process of heat treatment used to destroy bacteria in certain food products, particularly milk, invented by the French chemist Louis Pasteur.

TYPES OF CHEESE

5. Semi Hard And Hard Cheese. These are made by removing an amount of whey from the curd. This involves the curds and whey heated then textured and milled. The curds are then cut into blocks and piled repeatedly until the correct acidity is reached.

6. This is done by the process known as "cheddaring"; the cutting, piling and turning causes the whey to drain from the curds to achieve a texture of curd not unlike chicken breast meat.

7. The blocks are then pressed, salted and moulded before being ripened. This process, as the name implies, is used to make Cheddar cheese. The name has also been adopted for the process of making all cheeses manufactured in a similar way. Not all cheeses are "cheddared" and it is this variation of the recipe that gives cheese its different texture and consistency. Hard cheeses often undergo a further heating and shrinking process to remove whey and are then left to mature for longer than semi hard cheeses. Examples are: Semi hard: Cheddar and Edam, Hard: Parmesan and Gruyere

8. Fresh And Soft Cheese. True soft cheese is made by coagulating unpasteurized milk with rennet and, before that, a "starter" (a culture or bacteria) which gives the cheese a clean and acid flavour. The cheese is not textured, milled or pressed and they whey is allowed to drain naturally from the curd. The majority of soft cheeses are foreign in origin and are sold either in the fresh state or when fully ripe and mature, when the flavour is strongest. British soft cheeses are usually sold "fresh" or unripe, when they have a milder flavour but can be ripened in the same way as foreign cheeses. Some soft cheeses are made from semi skimmed milk to give a low calorie, low fat product. These cheeses have a smooth, yoghurt like texture and are bland with a slightly acid taste. Examples are: Fresh British: Lymeswold, Foreign: Camembert and Brie, Low Fat: Fromage Frais.

9. Cream Cheese. Cream cheese can also be classified as a soft cheese but is best regarded separately due to its particular nature. It is manufactured in a similar way to soft cheese but is made from cream instead of milk. There are two recognized varieties of cream cheese made with either single or double (or, in some cases, triple) cream. A typical cream cheese is a soft bodied, unripened cheese which has a rich, full and mildly acid flavour.

10. It may sometimes have a granular texture but with a buttery consistency and creamy appearance. Usually, it is moulded into small cylindrical, square or rectangular shapes of varying sizes. Cream cheeses are sometimes coated with herbs or nuts or flavoured with liquor, herbs or garlic. Examples are: Single cream: French Demi-Sel, Full cream: Scottish Caboc and French Boursin.

11. Acid Curd Cheese. Acid curd cheese is sometimes classed as a soft cheese but the process of forming the cheese is quite different. Acid curdling is brought about by the addition of lactic acid* which reacts upon the protein in the milk. This action yields a curd of high acidity with quick drainage properties and a granular texture. The resultant cheese has a clean, acid flavour and a soft, spreadable quality. Cottage cheese is a perfect example and is made from skimmed milk. After processing, salt, single cream and sometimes herbs fruit and even vegetables are added to alleviate the bland taste and add to the smooth velvety texture of this cheese.

*Lactic Acid: A clear, odourless, syrupy acid formed in sour milk.

12. Low Fat Cheese. Low fat hard cheeses such as Cheddar and Cheshire have been produced in response to the need for fat reduced cheeses which are useful in diets. They are made in a similar way to traditional hard cheeses but with half their fat content and the consequent reduction of calories. Also, vegetable rennet is often used so that the cheese can be used for those on a vegetarian diet. Low fat cheese tends to be mild in flavour and when used for cooking can be improved with the addition of mustard or, longer storage than usual, which will allow the flavour of the cheese to develop and mature.

13. Processed Cheese. These are made by combining cheese with a number of other ingredients such as flavourings, herbs, spices and cream and are manufactured using a "melting" process (literally, the cheese is melted then the other ingredients added and the cheese allowed to set to the desired shape). Processed cheeses are mostly sold in portions. They can be either wrapped in foil and shaped into triangles or cubes or, first shaped then thinly sliced and wrapped in pre-portioned packs. They are useful in making sandwiches, as an addition to a packed meal or, as a portion control ingredient for hamburgers and appetizers.

14. Blue Cheese. Although not strictly a cheese type, blue cheese varieties are quite different and are best explained in this section. Some cheeses develop veining during the ripening process. This veining is caused by a bacteria in the cheese which may occur naturally or be introduced. The mould induced by the process is a species of Penicillin roqueforti and is nowadays incorporated in the milk or the curd during manufacture. The curd is soft and velvety and conditions throughout manufacture and maturing are conducive to the growth of the blue mould which provides the distinctive flavour and character of the cheese. All blue cheeses are pierced with stainless steel needles at least once during the maturation period. This allows air to penetrate into the body of the cheese and mould growth to develop more quickly.

15. Stilton is perhaps one of the best known of the blue cheeses. It is the only registered generic variety of traditional English cheese and is made only from whole British milk and produced in the three countries of Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

Even with todays modern methods of production, a perfect Stilton will take four months or more to mature and cannot be mass produced as it needs individual attention, thus production remains traditional and labour intensive. There are many other varieties of blue vein cheese, some of which are: English: Blue Cheshire, Lymeswold, French: Roquefort, Blue De Bresse, Danish: Danish Blue, Italian: Gorgonzola, Dolcelatte.

16. Farmhouse Cheese. In Britain, cheeses made on the farm in particular areas have become very popular in recent times. They are sought after for their special qualities and flavour. Some are, in fact, quite rare, as only small amounts are produced and not freely available in supermarkets. However, they can sometimes be found in specialist cheese shops or delicatessens when the search for them is definitely worth it.

17. Blended and Additive Cheeses. These are cheeses made form two or more cheese varieties or cheeses that contain an additional ingredient other than cheese. They have been produced to meet the demand for greater variety than the standard produce. Some cheese manufacturers and even some farm producers now market a wide selection of cheeses that are blended with many and various additional food items. Cheese making remains a far from static business, with new varieties coming into production (and some disappearing after test marketing). As an example, a British cheese Company made international headlines when it introduced a Cheddar blended with beer: teetotallers complained it would corrupt the young! This publicity started an export trade that has never looked back.

BUYING

18. When buying cheese, check that it does not look sweaty or excessively runny. Freshly cut cheese should look fresh with no dried areas or beads of fat on the surface. Cut pre-wrapped cheese should have no evidence of mould, moisture or greasiness inside the packaging. If there is this indicates that the cheese has been stored at too high a temperature. Vacuum packed cheese keeps longer than loosely wrapped cheese and the date code or use-by date will give an indication as to the length of time the cheese may be kept before consumption. If this date code is some weeks ahead it may mean that the cheese is immature and is still to ripen. When buying whole cheeses of hard, semi-hardor soft varieties, the outer crust or rind should be whole and without cracks, dry to the touch and, in the case of most cheeses, of a pleasant light brown or beige to white colour, depending on the variety (the exceptions being those cheeses that are coated in either a coloured wax rind or a cloth).

STORAGE

19. Soft cheeses will not keep for long and are best stored in a refrigerator or a cold place, kept covered and eaten within a few days of purchase. Hard cheeses will keep well in a refrigerator for as long as a month, providing the cheese is in good condition when purchased and is wrapped properly in cling film or foil. Vacuum packed cheeses will keep well, unopened, in a cold place, for several weeks. Freshly cut or vacuum packed cheese which has been opened should be wrapped in cling film or foil. Close wrapping will keep the cheese moist and protect it from absorbing the flavours from other foods but beware of allowing the cheese to become warm when wrapped in cling film as this will induce sweating.

20. Correct refrigeration should not harm the flavour of cheese but will inhibit it, especially if eaten straight from the refrigerator. For dining room service, cheese should be removing from the refrigerator at least one hour before serving to allow the flavour of the cheese to return to normal. Cheese can be frozen but as it is plentiful, reasonably priced and best eaten fresh, it should not be necessary to freeze it. Also, freezing in bulk will take up valuable freezer space best used for those food items that must be frozen. If freezing, the higher fat content hard cheeses, such as Cheddar, freeze better than others. The texture is altered somewhat and cheese becomes crumbly when defrosted. To offset this, allow the cheese to remain at room temperature for 12 hours after thawing before consuming. If freezing for eventual cooking only, cheese is best grated then packed in handy amounts in plastic freezer bags.

PRESENTATION AND SERVICE

21. The variety of cheese and the style of its service will depend very much on the particular function, what type of clientele, any customs or traditions and, last but not least, the type of menu being served. Cheese is a versatile product which can be cut in a variety of ways or styles to show the cheese at its best. Indeed, it can form a very attractive display, cut in different ways and served with various accompaniments such as fresh fruit and different types of biscuits or breads. It can be cut into convenient sized wedges or slices and placed around a display of fruit, or, it can be left whole for slicing and cutting as required; as in the traditional way of serving a whole Stilton or a wheel of Brie. At what point to serve cheese at meal is no longer a case for tradition.

22. The British custom is to serve cheese after the sweet. This gives a savoury end to the meal and, for many, the tradition of serving Stilton with port wine is a most agreeable way to end a meal. The French way of serving cheese before the sweet has become popular in some circles as it allows the diner to continue drinking red or white wine with the cheese.


British Cheese

BRITISH CHEESE VARIETIES

23. In recent years, cheese manufacturers have expanded the range of their product to now include many blended and additive cheeses. The choice of the cheesemakers art is almost bewildering and the following list of cheeses contains examples of some of the varieties to be found. The list is by no means exhaustive; in fact there are as many, if not more, cheese varieties available as there are days in the year!

24. Abbeydale. A factory produced, additive cheese, it is semi soft and flavoured with chopped chives and onions. It is also fat and salt reduced with an increased protein content, which makes it ideal for diet use. Also, from the same factory come: Grosvenor, a semi soft cheese, speckled with fresh herbs. Albany, the same base cheese as Grosvenor but with the flavour of celery and, Penmill, again, the same cheese base but with the addition of crushed peppercorns.

25. Blue Shropshire. A farmhouse, blue vein cheese that used to be known by a different name but did not sell well, so the name was changed. Since then it has become more popular and is now made in two creameries in Shropshire, in a similar way to Stilton. The cheese has delicate blue veins running through a cheese which is orange in colour. This orange colouring is achieved by the addition of a vegetable dye, added to the milk at the start of the process.

26. Boston Spa Village Cheese. A farmhouse cheese made in the Yorkshire village of Boston Spa, it is made from unpasteurized milk with vegetable rennet added. A smooth cheese with a dry, flaky texture and distinctive flavour.

27. Caboc. An ancient cheese originally from the Western Highlands of Scotland. Caboc is a rich, soft, full cream cheese which is pale to almost pure white inside and covered in toasted pin-head oatmeal outside. Best eaten with biscuits and no butter.

28. Caerphilly. A moist, white, close textured cheese made specifically from the milk of Hereford cows. It has a mild, slightly salty flavour and is best eaten with biscuits.

29. Cheddar. Originally from the area around the Cheddar Gorge, in Somerset, Cheddar cheese is now made world wide and is probably the most popular of all cheeses. Mild Cheddar is between three and five months old, mellow and with a clean flavour. Mature at six months old, it is strong and deep yellow with a fully nutty flavour and a close texture. Imported Cheddar varieties vary from mild (New Zealand and Australian) to strong (Canadian) which is similar to mature English Cheddar in flavour and texture. An all purpose cheese, Cheddar is ideal for cooking or eating with fruit and sweet or savour biscuits.

30. Cheddar 'n' Scotch. A blended cheese made from a base of Dunlop and mixed with 'Laphroaig', a 10 year old, single malt Scotch whisky.

31. Cheshire. The oldest known British cheese, Cheshire has a savoury, mellow and slightly salty taste with a loose, crumbly texture. There are three types: White Cheshire is really a pale yellow in colour, Red Cheshire in coloured with a vegetable dye and is similar in colour to Red Leicester. Farmhouse Blue Cheshire is rich and creamy with an open texture and blue veins. Cheshire is excellent for grilling or eating with fruit and biscuits.

32. Cornish Herb and Garlic. An additive cheese, it is similar to the Cornish Pepper variety but is mixed with six fresh herbs and with garlic. Hand made.

33. Cornish Pepper. An additive cheese, full fat and soft, rich and creamy in texture, it is shaped into small rounds and coated in cracked black pepper. Hand made.

34. Cornish Yarg. An additive cheese made with vegetable rennet, it is full flavoured, creamy and with a mould ripened skin which is coated in nettles. When fully mature, the cheese has a delicate texture and subtle taste. Hand made.

35. Cotherstone. A farmhouse cheese from Teesdale, Yorkshire, it is made from unpasteurized milk to a very old recipe. It has an open textured white cured with a golden crust and a definite flavour.

36. Cottage Cheese. Made from skimmed milk curds, Cottage cheese is low in calories due to its low fat content. It is pure white with a bland flavour but can be purchased containing herbs, fruit or even vegetables mixed with it. It is ideal for diet use or for adding to salads.

37. Crowdie. Originally a Highland farmhouse cheese, it is now produced commercially. It is a traditional, skimmed milk, cottage type cheese which has a fresh, soft and curd like appearance with a crumbly texture and mild flavour. It is available mixed with double cream or, for a stronger more savoury taste, can be purchased containing wild garlic. Can be served with fruit, vegetables, meat, eggs or fish and is also popular on oatcakes topped with strawberry jam.

38. Curworthy. A farmhouse cheese which is based on a 17th century Devonian recipe. It is made with unpasteurized milk and has a close texture and hard finish.

39. Derby. No such a common cheese (and considered by some to be an additive cheese) there are two types of Derby available. Ordinary or White Derby is a close textured cheese which has a clean, tangy and distinct flavour and a honey colour. Sage Derby (the additive variety) has layers of fresh sage incorporated during the cheese making process. It is close textured with a pronounced flavour and plenty of green in the overall colour. Derby does not cook well and is best eaten very fresh with biscuits.

40. Devon Garland. An additive cheese from North Devon, it is a mild tasting cheese made into the shape of a wheel which has fresh, mixed herbs running through the centre.

41. Dunlop. Unique to Scotland, Dunlop was originally a farmhouse cheese but is now commercially produced. It has a moist texture which is rather similar to Cheddar but is softer with a milder flavour and a pale, butter colour. Good for grilling or eating with fruit and biscuits.

42. Eskdale. A farmhouse cheese from the Cleveland district of Yorkshire, it is a soft cheese very similar to the French cheese, Camembert.

43. Gaelic. An additive variety, it is a full fat, cream cheese which contains chopped, fresh garlic leaves and is rolled in flaked oats, crumbled almonds and hazel nuts.

44. Gloucester. Now properly called Double Gloucester, it is still possible to buy Single Gloucester, which is a cheese made from skimmed milk that used to be known as "hay", because of its popularity with haymakers. The flavour of Double Gloucester varies according to maturity. It may be mellow and creamy, or, have a distinct "bite" to it. Farmhouse Double Gloucester has a pale, straw colour, is close textured and is made only with milk from Guernsey cows. The factory produced cheeses are more golden in colour due to the addition of an artificial colouring. Double Gloucester is perfect served with crusty bread or with fruit or biscuits.

45. Highland Choice. A blended cheese made from a base of Dunlop and mixed with flaked almonds and the famous Scottish liqueur, Drambuie.

46. Highland Herbs. A blended cheese made from a base of Dunlop mixed with Scottish mustard and chives

47. Howgate. An additive variety, it is a full fat, cream cheese which is coated in oatmeal.

48. Hramsa. The word Hramsa is derived from the Gaelic name for wild garlic, the "all healing herb". Made from double cream this Scottish, soft cheese is flavoured with the leaves or wild garlic gathered from the woods around the Cromarty Firth. Is best eaten as a dessert cheese with biscuits and no butter.

49. Illchester Cheese Co. Applewood (a smoked Cheddar), Sage Cheddar, Cheddar with port wine and Stilton, five more Cheddar blends and three Double Gloucester blends.

50. Lancashire. Originally a farmhouse cheese, it later became a staple food of the mill workers in the cotton towns. White in colour with a crumbly texture, Lancashire has a high fat content which makes it perfect for grating and grilling "au gratin". It also spreads extremely well, rather like butter. Mild when young, it develops a full flavour as it matures.

51. Lankskaill. A factory produced cheese similar in texture and taste to Dutch Douda and coated in a red wax.

52. Leicester. Leicester has a rich, russet colour, obtained by the addition of artificial vegetable colouring. It has a granular texture and a medium strong flavour. Some would argue that it is the most perfect cheese for grilling and toasting due to its high fat content but it is equally good eaten with fruit and biscuits.

53. Long Clawson Dairy. Huntsman, which contains layers of Double Gloucester and Blue Stilton: Cotswold, a Double Cloucester with chives and onions: Nutcracker, a Cheddar with walnuts: Charnwood, a smoked Cheddar with an outer coating of paprika: Rutland, a Cheddar with beer, garlic and parsley: Cheviot, a mild Cheddar with chopped chives: Windsor Red, a Cheddar marbled with elderberry wine: and Sherwood, a mixture of Double Gloucester and sweet pickle.

54. Lothian. A factory produced, mature, soft cheese with a white outer mould similar to French Camembert. Also available from the same source are: Scottish Camembert and Pentland. All of these cheeses have similar characteristics and can be eaten firm or soft.

55. Lymeswold. A creamery made cheese, Lymeswold is a mild, soft white cheese with delicate blue veining and edible crust. It has a similar quality and taste to some of the foreign soft cheeses, with a definite tang to it. Best eaten fresh.

56. Melbury. A creamery made cheese, Melbury is a soft white cheese, with an edible crust. Mild and firmer in texture than some foreign soft cheese, it is made in a unique loaf shape.

57. Morven. A mild Scottish cheese made in small squares, it has a full flavour and a texture similar to Dutch Gouda. Sometimes available with a flavouring of caraway seeds. Serve with biscuits.

58. Mozzarella. With its origins in Italy, Mozzarella is now also produced in England, Wales and Scotland. It is a mellow, compact, curd cheese with a subtle flavour and an elastic quality which is ideal for pizza toppings but is also suitable for other recipes. It can be eaten cooked or uncooked and is available in two forms: the traditional "wet" form, when it is left in its own whey, and a drier form which is vacuum packed for longer life.

59. Orkney. Originally made in farmhouses, it is now produced in creameries on the island. It is similar to Dunlop but is made in individual rounds and can be purchased white, coloured or smoked.

60. Oxford. A very old farmhouse cheese, recently revived. It is a Cheddar type, full bodied cheese with a smooth texture but with the mellow taste of Cheshire.

61. Peat Smoked. A factory produced cheese with a distinctive flavour. It is full fat, soft, mild cheese, individually made and placed on small straw mats, after which it is peat smoked.

62. Scottish Cheddar. The factory produced cheese is similar to English Cheddar in every respect and is available in either traditional yellow form or, in the very popular (in Scotland anyway) red form. Farmhouse produced Scottish Cheddar has a very high reputation for quality and taste and is traditionally made and matured.

63. Sharpham. A farmhouse cheese made only during the summer months in Devon, it is a semi-soft, ripened cheese made from unpasteurized milk and can be eaten immature or mature.

64. Somerset Brie. Made by Lubborn Cheese Ltd in Crewkerne, Somerset, from whole milk to a traditional French method. When mature it has a good tangy flavour.

65. Somerset Cider Cheddar. An additive cheese, it has cider added in the initial making process which produces a cheese which is mild flavoured but with a definite tang of apple.

66. Stilton. Blue Stilton has a close texture with blue veins running through a rich, creamy coloured cheese which has a strong, tangy and lingering taste. It is at its best between November and April, as that years cheeses made from the best quality milk become mature. White or immature Stilton is freely available and this has a crumbly texture, mild taste and a lack of the distinctive blue veining found in a mature cheese. It may be tempting to do what some feel is sacrilege: namely to "Port" the Stilton (literally soak it in Port wine by boring holes in the tope of the cheese and pour in the Port, over a period of time). However, while this does add a particular flavour to the cheese it also serves to mask the delicious flavour of this "King of Cheeses" and is not recommended. This said, there is nothing quite so fine as a slice of Stilton with butter, biscuits and a glass of Port Wine to round off a perfect meal.

Note: Stilton is surprisingly versatile and can be used for cooking in savouries or quiches, where its particular "bite" provides a delicious alternative to other cheese varieties.

67. St Ivel Brand. Cheddar with walnuts, Cheddar pizza style, Cheddar with herbs and garlic, Cheddar with ham and mustard and Double Gloucester with chives and onions.

68. Swaledale. A farmhouse cheese made only on a few farms around the village of Grinton in North Yorkshire, it has a soft texture and mild flavour.

69. Tendale. A factory produced cheese made in two varieties which taste similar to Cheddar and Cheshire, Tendale has half the fat content, a third less calories and a quarter more protein than normal cheese, which makes it ideal for diet use.

70. Warkleigh. A farmhouse cheese made in North Devon, it is a rich, fresh cheese which develops a creamy taste when ripened.

71. Wedmore. An additive cheese from Somerset, it can be consumed very soon after manufacture or left to mature for up to three months. Immature it is fresh and milky, with a more pronounced taste when fully ripe. Made into a wheel shape, it has fresh chives running through the centre.

72. Wensleydale. An old established cheese dating from Norman times, there are white and blue varieties available. White Wensleydatel is close textured, mild and with a honey taste to it. The blue veined variety is soft and close textured, rich and creamy. In the north of England it was traditionally served with apple pie and indeed, makes a good accompaniment to fresh apples. It is also good for cooking or eating with biscuits.


FOREIGN CHEESE VARIETIES 

FOREIGN CHEESE VARIETIES

73. There are literally hundreds of foreign cheeses, many of which are imported into Britain to meet the demand and the ever changing tastes of the British public. The continental countries of France, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Holland, Austria and Switzerland have always produced cheeses that are popular in Britain. And indeed, the varieties these countries export include some of the most famous and best liked cheeses in the world. Large imports of Cheddar type, factory produced and other cheeses are also made from Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Southern Ireland, with a small amount of specialist cheeses being imported from Greece. Several of the foreign cheeses do not differ widely in taste from hard or soft British cheeses, while others, especially pungent varieties such as Emmenthal, Gruyere, Parmesan and Tilsit, have a flavour all of their own and cannot be compared. When buying foreign cheeses look for the same quality points expected when buying British cheese.

The following section contains just a small selection of foreign cheeses that are available in Britain now.

74. Banon. A pungent tasting cheese from France, originally made only from goats' milk, Banon is now mixed with cows' milk or made exclusively from cows' milk. The cheese is dipped in "eau de vie", then into rosemary and winter savoury or chestnut leaves which have been soaked in eau de vie. Traditionally, Banon is left to mature for several months in stone jars.

Note: Meaning, literally, "water of life", eau de vie is the French name given to a number of fruit brandies such as kirsch (cherry), and framboise (raspberry).

75. Bel Paese. One of the most famous of Italian cheeses, Bel Paese has an ivory colour and a thin, dark yellow rind. Soft and compact, this cheese has a delicate, slightly salty flavour and is usually served as a dessert cheese, but may also be used in cooking.

76. Bergkase. Dull yellow with a dark brown rind, this hard Austrian cheese has a high fat content and a mild, nutty flavour.

77. Bleu De Bresse. A soft, creamy, dark veined blue cheese from France made from full cream cows' milk. It has a rich acid taste and is sold wrapped in foil and boxed. When over-ripe it goes salty and dry.

78. Boursin or Boursault. Two brand names for the same triple cream cheese from France, it has a soft, thick texture and is flavoured with either garlic, herbs or pepper.

79. Brie. A large, round, soft, delicately flavoured pale yellow cheese from France. When fresh, Brie has a creamy white, edible crust which takes on a slightly reddish hue as the cheese matures. One of the worlds great cheeses, Brie is made from cows' milk and is at its best fresh cut from the wheel (whole cheese). Brie is fully ripe when the cheese has a consistent texture: when cut or pressed, the cheese should bulge but not run.

80. Camembert. A world famous cheese from Normandy, France, Camembert is a round, soft, pale to creamy yellow cheese with a soft edible crust. It has a stronger taste than Brie and is also made from cows' milk. Sold whole in boxes or in individually wrapped portions, the ripeness test is the same as for Brie. Camembert should not be allowed to become over-ripe, when the taste becomes bitter. However, some people think this is an acceptable flavour for eating.

81. Carre De L'Est. A square, soft cheese from France that has a high fat content. It is similar to Camembert but milder in flavour.

82. Comte. From France, this firm, yellowish cheese is riddled with holes that occur naturally: it is particularly good for cooking.

83. Danbo. A mild flavoured, firm textured Danish cheese. When cut it is easily recognized by its regular, even sized holes. Sometimes, it is given an added (and unusual) taste by the addition of caraway seeds.

84. Danish Blue. This cheese is also known as Danablu and was invented in 1914, at the beginning of the First World Ware, when the importation of Italian veined cheeses into Denmark was curtailed. The strong, salty flavour of this white cheese with its close blue veins diminishes as it matures. It has a high cream content and is soft with a slightly crumbly texture.

85. Demi-Sel. A small, square, fresh cream cheese from France, Demi-sel has very little salt and tastes almost like cream. Also sold under various other brand names, the very best Demi-sel comes from Normandy.

86. Dolcelatte. One of the most famous of Italian veined cheeses, Dolcelatte is off-white in colour and has blue/green veins running through it. It has a full, robust flavour and a creamy, moist texture.

87. Edam. This Dutch cheese has a mild flavour and a slightly rubbery texture. It is always encased in a wax rind of either red, for the normal variety, or, green, for the variety which contains herbs. Edam is not unlike Dutch Gouda cheese in flavour and texture but, whereas Gouda is made from whole milk, Edam is made from semi-skimmed milk.

88. Emmenthal. Originally from Switzerland, Emmenthal is now also produced in Germany and Denmark, but there is little difference in the flavour. The best kind of Emmenthal is made from the highest quality milk which produces a cheese which is dull yellow, with naturally occurring holes the size of cherries. It has a distinct nutty taste and is suitable as a dessert or cooking cheese.

89. Feta. A Greek semi-soft cured cheese made from ewes' milk. It is white and very salty and is perfect served with fresh salads.


93. Gouda. A creamy tasting, soft Dutch cheese with a high fat content. Produced in squat moulds, it is golden yellow in colour. Quite a mild cheese, it is not recommended for cooking.

94. Gruyere. True Gruyere is only made in the French speaking area of Switzerland but essentially the same cheese is made over the border in France. A firm, pale cheese with small holes and a crinkled, slightly greasy golden brown rind. Excellent as a dessert cheese and for cooking, especially for fondues.

95. Halumi. Another of the Greek cheeses, Halumi is similar to feta and is also made from ewes' milk. It is mature after just one month and is best eaten very fresh. Can be sliced and eaten fresh or sliced and grilled, then served with grilled, smoked bacon rashers.

96. Livarot. A soft yellow cheese from France. Made from skimmed milk, it has a reddish brown rind and a strong, pungent flavour; similar to Camembert but stronger.

97. Limberger. A soft cheese from France made from whole cows' milk, Limberger has a very strong smell and a spicy taste. The rind is brown and shiny and the cheese is bright yellow, close textured and with a few holes.

98. Molbo. A mild flavoured, Dutch cheese which has a slightly acid after taste. Close textured with a sprinkling of holes, the cheese is pale yellow with a red rind.

99. Mozzarella. Moulded into a flask, egg or ball shape and tied with raffia, this soft, compact cheese from the Neapolitan area of Italy has a thick rind and a slightly sour taste. It is used mainly as an ingredient of pizzas because of its spongy texture. Stored in its own buttermilk, it must be used fresh and while still wet or it will dry out and become too tough to use. Also available smoked.

100. Munster. A semi soft creamy textured cheese with a pungent taste, strong flavour and a reddish rind. Munster comes from the Alsace region of France and is sometimes flavoured with cumin or aniseed.

101. Parmesan. Parmesan is another of the better known Italian cheeses and is made from skimmed milk. After a period of drying, the cheeses are given a coating of fume negro, literally, black smoke, which gives the cheese its distinctive outer black coating. It is off white inside with a grainy texture and a strong and fragrant taste. In grated form, Parmesan is a staple of the Italian kitchen being added to soups, polenta (a type of porridge), vegetable dishes and most pasta dishes.

102. Petit Suisse. A very creamy cheese from France made from whole milk and extra cream. It has a faintly sour flavour and is often eaten with sugar. Sold in little, individually wrapped rolls.

103. Pont L'Eveque. A square, semi soft, pale yellow cheese from France. It has a pale crust and a rich, Camembert like flavour.

104. Port-Salut. A semi-hard yellow cheese from France. It has a reddish rind and a bland taste which becomes stronger as the cheese ages.

105. Ricotta. A soft, bland, Italian cheese with a distinctly ridged rind. Made from sheeps' milk and with a low fat content, it is particularly useful in dishes such as lasagne.

106. Roquefort. A crumbly, blue cheese from France with a salty but piquant flavour. Roquefort is made from ewes' milk curds which are sprinkled with breadcrumbs that have been specially treated with a particular mould culture that produces the characteristic green veins found in the cheese. The cheese is ripened and matured in limestone caves.

107. Samsoe. A mild flavoured Dutch cheese with a sweet, nutty flavour, yellow colour and firm texture with shiny round holes.

108. Saint Paulin. A semi hard cheese from France with a yellow colour and bland taste, similar to Port-Salut.

109. Tilsit. Originally made by Dutch letters in East Prussia, this Germany cheese is also produced in Switzerland and Scandinavia. Tilsit is a savoury, straw coloured slicing cheese, easily recognized by its loaf shape and small, irregular holes. It has a sharp, slightly sour taste.

110. Tome Au Raisin. A white, slightly chewy, semi hard and strong flavoured cheese from France. It is coated with a mixture of dried black grape skins and pips.

111. Trappistenkase. Pale yellow inside and with a rich yellow rind. Trappistenkase is a mild flavoured, semi soft German cheese made in loaves or bars. It has a firm consistency with round or slitted holes.

90. Fontina. This is produced in the mountains of Northern Italy near the Swiss border. It is a soft, fat cheese, slightly straw coloured with a few small holes. The orange coloured rind is often slightly thicker than on other cheeses. Imitations of this cheese are known as Fontal or Fontinella.

91. Fromage De Monsieur. An oval, slightly salty, cream cheese, made in Normandy, France. It has a high fat content and should be eaten slightly under-ripe.

92. Gorgonzola. Probably the best known Italian cheese, named after the village of Gorgonzola near Milan. The cheese is made from cows' milk and is straw coloured inside, mottled with green, naturally occurring veins (which can also be introduced with the aid of a culture, passed into the cheese with the aid of copper wires). It has a coarse, brown rind and a sharp, slightly spicy flavour.