If you’re a cheese person or a foodie, you’ve probably been asked this question more than once; “So, what’s your favorite cheese?”. Basic cheese like gouda or cheddar are particularly popular for their versatility, availability, mellow taste, and low price point. Still, those aren’t the only cheese that a foodie should have in their repertoire. The world of gourmet cheese is wide as well as deep, and it can be more than a little intimidating if you aren’t intimately familiar with it. Lucky for you, we’ve got your back! If you want to put together a tasty cheese board or if you’re attending a cooking class and want to up your ingredient knowledge, or maybe you’re about to embark on a foodie holiday and want to have some delicious cheese knowledge at your fingertips. Whatever the reason, we have what you’re looking for: a comprehensive list of the top gourmet cheeses that every cheese lover or foodie should know!
Made with: Cow’s milk
Burrata is one of the most seductive products ever to come out of that food lover’s paradise, Puglia. What looks like a not terribly exciting white, a gelatinous dollop is actually one of the most delicious and surprising cheeses around, Burrata. This tender, creamy little cheese pod is mozzarella’s much hotter best friend. What Burrata is, essentially, is a hollow mozzarella ball filled with the scraps of mozzarella that don’t make it into the finished package, often soaked in cream. While this cheese is highly perishable (in its country of origin, it is only eaten on the morning that it is made, never after that), it is a foodie essential. A Burrata’s skin should be thin enough to burst without much pressure, releasing the creamy interior cheese to be scooped up onto crackers, bread, or fresh tomatoes. It’s a fresh and straightforward cheese, so go for quality rather than a low-priced option.
Pyrenees Sheep’s Cheese
Home: France, Pyrenees region
Made with: Sheep’s milk
Hardly an everyday favorite on most American tables, sheep’s milk cheese is usually limited to Manchego or Pecorino in most stockists. While it may be unfamiliar, the aged sheep’s milk cheese from the Pyrenees region of France is a firm and smooth option that’s sure to go down well. It’s the perfect balance of fatty and nutty. While this cheese isn’t flashy or attention-grabbing, it’s the ideal cheese to pair with robust wine or dip flavors.
Aged Goat Gouda
Home: The Netherlands
Made with: Goat’s milk
There’s nothing like age to create the perfect cheese. While all goudas are known for being relatively mellow and sweet, goat milk in particular mellows and sweetens given enough time. The butterscotch flavor in a gouda is brought out further by the goat’s milk in this underestimated cheese. Many people shy away from the idea of goat’s milk cheese, but this baby is the perfect one to reel them in. You get the crowd-pleasing and mass appeal qualities of gouda with the twist in flavor added by goat’s milk: the perfect combination.
Bleu d’Auvergne AOC/PDO
Made with: Cow’s milk
Now, before you make a face or decide you don’t like something you’ve never tried before, hear us out. This particular blue cheese, while it may appear at a glance quite similar to all the rest, requires only one month of aging. Perhaps it is the tiny number of producers that have created something so unusual; maybe it’s the balance of salt and creaminess, maybe it’s the mild quality. Whatever it really is, this blue is far, far greater than the sum of its parts. Crumbled over fresh greens, enrobing a medium-rare wagyu burger, or on its own next to a glass of sherry, it is the perfect blue for you.
Made with: Cow’s milk
Just looking at this cheese is almost enough to satisfy your cravings…but not quite. This unassuming, ripe-looking, pale little drum of cheese is produced in France, and it really is something special. It is made in the traditional way: hand-ladled into tiny, adorable little molds and made with only the freshest milk. Le Chevrot is a door-opening cheese, to be sure. This mold and yeast ripened pod of creamy deliciousness reveals a snow-white interior when cut and washes the mouth with nutty, mellow softness. The combination will have you coming back for more, time and time again. What you should watch out for is the cheese getting too dry and taking on a soapy taste.
There you have it: the ultimate guide to gourmet cheese that should take up residence inside your fridge post haste. Say cheese and get tasting!