Wonders of Cheese

When I was growing up in the late 1940’s and ’50’s there were to my mind only Velveeta from Kraft. It was invented in 1918 by Emil Frey of the Monroe Cheese Company in Monroe, New York. In 1923, The Velveeta Cheese Company was incorporated as a separate company, and sold to Kraft Foods in 1927. … The name “Velveeta” was intended to connote a “velvety smooth” edible product.

Later on I was introduced to the Kraft Parmesan. You know the stuff in the green cardboard cylinder. The height of dinner for me was Kraft Macaroni and cheese. As I grew older I discovered Blu Cheese and Swiss. Until the year 2002 these were still the only types of cheeses I really knew about or tasted and used for cooking.

Kraft cheese food products are still around, they don’t appear to have changed in over 107 years. If the product works for its customers why change it. Right.

My first experience with a a good cheese was Parmigianiano Reggiano, of course Mozzarela di Bufala on pizza. Since then I have made it point to seek out different cheeses in the cheese shops, I have not been in one yet that does not offer samples. Also the cheesemonger will be happy to explain what and how the particular cheeses are made, where they are from and how long they are aged.

The cheese pictured above is at the Austin Cheese Company. While there, I came across what has to be the prettiest cheese I’ve seen: Alpine Blossom, aka ‘Senneri Huban’. This is an Austrian import that’s aged with a coating of Alpine flowers, including marigold, rose petals, lavender, and chervil as a mild green herb.

There is another called Green Dirt that I particularly like. It comes from Green Dirt Farms. Green Dirt uses its own sheep’s milk to create a unique fresh cheese that ripens and drains for 48 hours before it is packed. The result is a bright, lemony cheese with a soft, delicate curd and a clean milkiness on the finish — similar in style to a chevre, but without the distinct flavor of goat’s milk. The rind is a mushroom ash that gives it a wonderful earthy flavor.

I could go on and on about the different cheese I have sampled over the last few years, but I won’t. What I want to mention here is the fact that you shouldn’t let the prices of these marvelous flavor experiences pass you by. In the case of most of them the price per pound when spread out over how much you use per serving breaks it down to being quite affordable. The biggest advantage is the fact that you are eating real cheese and not a cheese food or cheese powder.

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