Cheesy

I admit it. I’m a cheese freak, a cheese chomper, a cheese lover. I’m not addicted to its taste and texture, at least I don’t think I am, but meals and life would be bland without cheese.

Ever since I can remember cheese has captivated me. When young, it was Scottish Cheddar, occasionally Dunlop. That’s all that was available. Traditional Scottish cheeses had disappeared and it took decades for us to rediscover the will and prowess for making fabulous cheese.

Process cheese entered the arena, its slices alluring to those who disliked cutting slices for sandwiches; or the triangles of the spreading variety whose taste hovered somewhere between plastic and sawdust with a consistency that stuck to teeth and roof of mouth like rogue bubble-gum mixed with wood glue.

Cheese store

Cheese being matured in a small creamery near Ludlow

No, for me cheese has to be cheese. The natural and simple process of turning milk into cheese was first revealed to me on a school trip to a farm in Ayrshire. The education department obviously thought children raised in Glasgow didn’t know what a cow looked like, despite most of us having easy access to the countryside. My enduring memory of that visit was the overpowering animal smell. I seem to remember it was the pigs. Of the cheese-making process I remember nothing.

For packed lunches at school and later, a chunk of cheddar and an apple was often my choice. Though when I worked in one place in Glasgow city centre I was able to indulge all my cheesy fantasies. Ferguson’s, I think the place was called, a large upmarket tearoom, near the Central Station, selling wondrous choux pastry concoctions, alongside a delicatessen I’d never seen the like of before but which is now replicated in a constrained and shadowy form in every supermarket.

Shelves of cheese

Round cheeses maturing under a mould.

Woman inspecting shelves of maturing cheeses.

Cheeses are turned and inspected regularly

From the moment hand pushed open door, the aroma of pungent cheese and herby, garlicky or spicy meats enveloped the customer. A counter that swept from door into the dim recesses of the shop was decorated by a myriad of colours and shapes. Cold meats and salamis I never knew existed, and the most tastebud-drooling array of cheeses, soft, hard, medium, cow, ewe, goat. I was in seventh heaven and set out to work my way through them all, buying a sliver of each, five days a week for my lunch. Sadly, I now can’t remember whether I achieved my aim. Perhaps, I found a few I really liked, at a price I could just about afford, and stuck to them.

Over the years I’ve been fascinated by seeing the milk to cheese transformation take place in a number of dairies, large and small, cool and damp, making firm, crumbly and soft cheeses such as crowdie. In one large establishment, saying it was up north keeps it safely vague, husband and I were horrified to discover the smoked cheese we occasionally bought never saw a smokery. Our vision of cheeses carefully smoked over slow burning oak chips was shattered when we saw a bottle of artificial smoked flavour tilted into the vat. We’ve never bought that particular cheese since, and steer well clear of any other food labelled smoked unless we are assured of the authenticity of the process.

French cheese shop

A cheese shop in Montmartre, Paris, open at the front to make it almost impossible to walk past.

Cheese remains a favourite food, sometimes cooked, sometimes on a slice of homemade bread, occasionally just a slice or chunk surreptitiously enjoyed on its own while making a meal. Camembert is a favourite, thought best enjoyed in private as the smell can lead guests to wonder what nasties lurk in fridge and kitchen. Pecorino has recently become a staple, replacing Parmesan, as it’s easier to grate and the depth of flavour means it’s economic to use and zings in quiches and on homemade pizzas.

In recent years Scotland has emerged from the dark side of the moon. A look at the Taste of Scotland website lists a wonderful array of cheeses made here. In fact reading through them I’m almost tempted to do what I did all those years ago with the cheeses in Ferguson’s, and work my way steadily through them. Though perhaps I already have!

French cheese shop

La Fromagerie Lepic in Montmartre, Paris. Just the place for a cheese lover.

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About jingsandthings

I am me. What do I like? Colour Shapes Textures Paintings, photographs, sculptures, woven tapestries, wonderful materials. The love of materials probably comes from my father who was a textile buyer, and I grew up hearing the names of mills and manufacturers which sounded magical and enticing. Glass in all its soft and vibrant colours and flowing shapes, even sixties glass which makes its own proud statement. A book I can immerse myself in. Meals with family or friends with lots of chat and laughter (and probably a bottle or two of wine). The occasional trip abroad to experience the sights, sounds, food, conversation, quality of light and warmth of other countries. To revel in differences and be amazed by similarities. I like to create and to experience, to try and to achieve. And then there are words – read, heard, written at my keyboard, or scrawled on sticky notes, or along the edges of dog-eared supermarket receipts excavated from the unexplored nooks of my handbag. What do I dislike? Cold Snow Bad design Fast food Condescension
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108 Responses to Cheesy

  1. Cheese……just cheese…..so many of them. Loved the post.
    🙂

  2. Sarah says:

    Ah, I’m a cheese lover too! Have you tried mango ginger Stilton? There was only one place I could find that up until this year when a local grocery started carrying it. Now Sprouts has it! Yay!
    Great post!

  3. cafecasey says:

    Sometimes I get banished from the public areas of the house when eating “stinky cheese” like a French brie…

  4. Recently, I had to quit my term in the cheese love department because I had to cut dairy out of my life and let me tell you, this article had my mouth watering. When I was a kid, an apple and a slice of cheese was one of my favourite snacks. (Unfortunately as I got older and life decided to throw me a curve-ball, I developed an allergy to apples, so now I’m without both! Where is the justice, I ask?) I mostly stick to cheese from goat or sheep and there are definitely some really nice options, but let me tell you, if I had an option? This article would have prompted me to be a gluttonous wreck. Thanks for sharing!

    • I suppose there are other fruits that could be substituted for apples but can’t think of a substitute for cheese. Glad you can eat goat and ewe cheeses, the number of these is increasing.

  5. Margaret says:

    Another cheese lover here! Whenever I travel and see a cheese shop, I have to go in.

    • With some people it’s shoes shops, with us cheese lovers it delicatessens or, even better, shops devoted entirely to cheese. Now there’s an opening for some lively entrepreneur in the travel trade. Cheese tasting holidays. It’s done for wine, so why not for cheese?

  6. Love cheese! Enjoyed reading your post.

  7. Vn-Japan says:

    This cake same Mochi in Japan 😦

  8. rizalID says:

    great a products, sob.

  9. I’m in love with aged Gruyere right now.
    Are you familiar with it?

    • Have often enjoyed Gruyere but not sure I’ve had aged Gruyere. Shops where I stay tend to have a limited selection so trips abroad and to other places expand horizons. Online shopping is great but as yet doesn’t offer taste as part of its sales techniques.

  10. idreamofeden says:

    Cheese used to gross me out. I am understanding now the beauty of cheese! And thanks to reading this post, I am intrigued and motivated to try some new cheeses. Congratulations on being freshly pressed.

    • Thank you. I’m sure if you keep trying a few you’ll soon find some that you really like. Cheeses have so many different tastes and textures, I’m sure sufficient for most people to discover one that appeals. So keep tasting.

  11. I couldn’t agree more. I am traveling in China, where cheese is available like water in the desert. I am now salivating at the thought of a large chunk of brie, as my imagination washes it down with a glug of french merlot. Bravo – great blog!

    • I presume there are Chinese cheeses. Are there? Somewhat ignorant on that front, but it would be interesting to know more if you come across any and can discover how/where they are made. Merlot I can go with to accompany my cheese, or in fact just about any wine. Cheese is so forgiving of what is drunk along with it. Enjoy your travels.

  12. Reblogged this on biscuitandben and commented:
    In China, cheese is available like water in the desert. I am now salivating at the thought of a large chunk of brie, as my imagination washes it down with a glug of french merlot. This is a great cheesy blog.

  13. I enjoyed your cheesy views.

    As a fellow lover of all things cheese, cheese on, jings and things! Cheese on!

  14. starlight says:

    my all time favorite is cream cheese, spread it on my bread, use it often for cooking, or in making dips.. awesome post, love it..

  15. I am a cheese freak as well. A while back my husband said to me, “You have a choice. Cheese or coffee,” when we were on a very strict budget. I had to keep one and stop buying the other because it could be so pricey when it was the good stuff. I chose to keep cheese. How could I not? Cheese is a key staple in my diet. So great to see a post from a fellow cheese monger.

    Congrats on being freshly pressed!

    • You made the right choice there. Though I’d be devastated if I had to give up my fresh coffee. If it came to a choice between cheese and meat…I do love lamb, pork, turkey…but I think the meat would have to go in favour of the cheese. With some cheese and vegetable combinations you can almost replicate the taste of meat, or at any rate provide an excellent substitute. So like a true cheese lover, I’d plump for it.

  16. Alan P. says:

    good personal take on the cheese trending in the market. There’re places selling collections of cheese in Hong Kong but it’s not like a culture where everybody enjoys it like in Europe. It’s changing with the newer generation.

    • That’s interesting. Is there no cheese produced locally? If so, then there are obviously openings there ripe for exploitation by cheese companies in Europe. Fascinated by the fact the Japanese and Chinese don’t seem to have a cheese culture. China, especially, with its large rural population. I’m vaguely wondering about water buffalo and the potential for mozzarella. Would be great to learn more.

      • Alan P. says:

        i’m in the italian food importing company. So I have some knowledge on the cheeses. Not that the company educated me, it’s me who see it often and curious enough to learn about it. But not everyone here has the same story as i do. There’re plenty of foreign expats as well as american/candian/australian/…borned chinese, that are the potential group for the ham, cheese and wine. People here with fine income enjoy gourmet a lot. 🙂

  17. sannekurz says:

    I remember years of running after a St. Agur raw milk cheese when living in australia. sadly I found out that back than the sale of raw-milk cheeses was prohibited there. Lucky I went back to live in cheese-heaven Europe!

    • I seem to remember cheesemakers encountered a similar problem here in Scotland. An EU regulation perhaps, but one small cheesemaker fought a long battle over it. I can only presume that has now been relaxed or a compromise has been reached as I’m sure there are unpasteurised milk cheeses sold. Shows my ignorance of the process. Perhaps someone can help?

  18. Mitzie Mee says:

    When I see pictures like this, I wish I could eat cheese. It looks so delicious but even though I’ve tried several times, I never manage to get myself to eat anything else than a young brie or a mozzarella.

    • Well brie and mozzarella are an excellent start. Just keep persevering, and keep your mind open. If you decide you don’t like cheese, then chances are you won’t. Try some Gouda, nice and smooth and creamy with not too strong a flavour.

  19. Miz. Kyrte says:

    Such a yummy post.

  20. element90 says:

    The range of chesses produced in Britain has increased significantly in recent years. I’ve had many memorable cheeses from the Cheesery in Dundee such as Criffel and Bonnet (both Scottish) and many others that I can’t remember the names of. I live in the English midlands where there is a notable local cheese called Berkswell, sadly the Scottish cheeses are difficult to find in this part of England. One of the best Chedders I’ve had is Montgomery.

    Hopefully the number of new cheese varieties produced in Britain will continue to increase.

    • Yes, from being practically wiped out so that all that remained was cheddar in various forms (often with loads of orange colouring added) we’ve now a growing selection of cheeses and people committed to their success. As yet it can be difficult to obtain them from local shops, but increasingly they are finding outlets in good delicatessens, and of course the internet with online shopping has opened up new markets and consumer choice. But one of the pleasure of travel is to eat local produce, so perhaps we don’t want everything available everywhere.

  21. monicabugno says:

    Man… I love cheese :). Great post!

  22. celiatillet says:

    Yum! I come from the land of stilton. But it’s too strong for me.

    • Blue stilton can become quite strong, but I’ve discovered it’s fantastic in cooked dishes, with pasta or over potatoes, topping an onion quiche or as an unusual cheese on pizza. And it goes well with loads of vegetables. So have a go and see what you think.

  23. mariposatree says:

    Oh how I love a good cheese. I don’t particularly liked the smoked varieties because they’ve always tasted artificial to me. Do any smoked cheeses actually get smoked? Interesting to read you saw the smoke flavour poured into the vat.

    • I suspect that nowadays most foods that have a smoked option the smoked flavour comes from a bottle. Arbroath smokies are, of course, the honourable exception. They are smoked in smokehouses over oak chips just as they have always been. That’s what gives them their wonderful colour. But like colour in foodstuffs, too many of the flavours are artificial. Anyone who has ever made strawberry jam knows that strawberries go brown when boiled and that there is no way the resulting jam could turn out cherry red.

  24. I love cheese too. Here in the Philippines we have cheese made from carabao’s milk. 🙂

    • Now I’ll admit I’ve had to resort to the dictionary to find out what a carabao is and I’ve discovered it’s a water buffalo. So guess your local cheese is soft and squishy, slightly fibrous when pulled, like mozzarella. Do you use it in a similar way to mozzarella, or do you have Phillippine recipes that use it? Post a recipe so that we can all try a Phillippine dish using mozzarella. That would be great.

      • Yes it is soft, but we don’t really use it like mozzarella because it easily breaks up. I usually just put it on bread and eat it. I’m actually just beginning to learn how to cook. I’ll let you know if I discover recipes using this cheese. 🙂

  25. helenonthesofa says:

    I’m such a cheese fan so loved reading this blog! I’m doing a one day cheese making course at the end of September and I’m stupidly excited about it! Home made camembert is creating the happiest of dreams right now!

  26. Michele LMS says:

    Loved your “cheesy” post! . . . As a fellow cheese lover, you left my “mouth watering”! Thank you for sharing!

    http://arabianmusings.wordpress.com/

  27. I am a tremendous cheese fan. I’ve tried my hand at making several different types at home. They’ve turned out to be so much better than what you can purchase at a market!! Also, I have to agree.. the spreadable cheese triangle packs are pretty awful.

    Thanks for sharing your love of cheese. It’s always interesting to see (culturally) how one of your favorite things fits into the lives of people who live in places you’ve never been. 🙂

    • Don’t think that traditionally we Scots were quite as adventurous as the French in our cheese making, but we’re now getting there, and producing some great tasting cheeses.

  28. What a delight to stumble on this post. I, too, have a thing for cheese.

    Some wonderful photos – I’m now feeling distinctly peckish!

    http://cheesewillsetusfree.wordpress.com/

  29. Carmel says:

    i am currently spreading table softened goat’s milk brie from france and i type this! happy to meet a fellow cheese lover. thanks!
    http://www.thelifeandvibesof.com

  30. peachyteachy says:

    Cheese and its care are so fascinating–I did not realize that there was cheesemaking history in Scotland, although that makes perfect sense. My mother did not live to see Scotland, but she carried great pride in that heritage throughout her life. Congrats on FP!

    • Thanks for your congratulations. I think cheese was always a way of using excess produce, in this case milk, into something which could be kept. In the days before refrigerators keeping milk for any time must have been challenging, but turning it into milk saved it and provided food for other days. Cheese would have provided a valuable addition to the diet, and could be sandwiched between a couple of oatcakes for a day on the hills. Wonderful convenience food. What a sensible lady your mother was to have Scottish ancestry!!!

  31. 4myskin says:

    Where would the world be without cheese? Not a place I’d like to be! 😀 Fun post, thanks for sharing.

  32. euphoranyc says:

    In the words of Rachel Ray…YUMMO! When I was younger I would find cheese in the refrigerator, cut off a small piece…and retreat to my room like a mouse that was successful at sneaking a bite from a mouse trap. There is something comforting about cheese. That is all.

  33. seekingmisadventure says:

    Reblogged this on Adventures In Austin and commented:
    Finally, someone who understands my true love for cheese!

  34. Wonderful read – I enjoy my cheese but will have a greater appreciation now – thank you

  35. chris says:

    A delicious, cheesy post. Ferguson’s does indeed sound like heaven. We used to get a raw-milk cheddar from a farmer who aged them fo 1, 3 and 5 years, encased in beeswax. Sadly, he was gored by a bull and quit making cheeses after that. I’ve since tried similar cheddars, cut in rectangles and aged in wax, but I’ve never found one as good…

    • We don’t seem to get many in wax these days. Gouda and Edam used to be encased in wax, but these days it’s often some other kind of casing. As cheese is made of milk from a particular place I guess if it’s made on a particular farm then the flavour reflects the surroundings and nature of the place. Good luck trying to find a similar cheese. Don’t give up.

  36. Yummmm. I’m a cheese aficionado as well. Not that I am knowledgeable, but certainly enthusiastic. How well I recall the discovery of cheese that did not have Kraft as its first name…
    Nice post.

  37. urbannight says:

    My roommate likes to make fun of me and say I don’t like cheese because I don’t like it on things. I like it all by itself. Sliced, shaved, shredded, in curds. But by itself. So I can really appreciate the flavor of it.

    • I can relate to that. Some of those biscuits which are meant for cheese have such a strong salty flavour that they overpower everything. Don’t understand we we should think cheese needs to be eaten with something when we eat other foodstuffs by themselves.

  38. vaymin says:

    “…or the triangles of the spreading variety whose taste hovered somewhere between plastic and sawdust with a consistency that stuck to teeth and roof of mouth like rogue bubble-gum mixed with wood glue.” Great description, made me laugh. 🙂

  39. Pingback: Cheesy « My Favorite Spaces

  40. Dawn Akemi says:

    Cheese is my primary protein source. Love, love, love it! One of my varied careers was selling specialty, artisan, and farmstead cheeses for a gourmet food service distributor. Sampling was one of its great benefits. MmmmMmMmmMmm! Cheese!

  41. Philadelphia says:

    Loved the post, excellent article thank you ( Kraft ) !

  42. marian g says:

    Reblogged this on i.smile @ life and commented:
    We actually share the love for cheese! Just like the author, I am not addicted to it; I’m just fascinated by its taste and the different ways it can be made. I definitely should try making cheese in Scotland someday! That would be an additional activity in my bucket list when I visit Scotland someday! 😉

  43. mdprincing says:

    yum, me too

  44. I love this post! We love cheese and enjoy making a few varieties. It’s hard stateside to get some of the really good cheeses we enjoy. Stilton doesn’t travel well for example. So when we go home to England I get the good stuff! And when we can we pop over to Europe and get a sorts of runny creamy cheeses. 🙂

    • Interesting. Does America not make the kind of cheeses made in Europe? Used to occasionally buy an American cheese…can’t for the life of me remember its name at present. It was rather good for pizza. Gouda like, with a red waxy covering. And you mean you don’t have an equivalent to Camembert or Brie, St Augur or Dolcelatte? Gosh, how do you exist!!!

      • We barely exist! 🙂 The cheese made here is very often mass produced. We do have some small farms around here that do small batches and they aren’t too bad. We can get brie and such but it’s not the runny kind but very uniform throughout. It’s not the same. We can get some imports but nothing with raw milk unless it’s been aged for 60 days. Then you get a lot of US companies that make cheese and try to market it as it was made in Europe or the UK. Like parmaesan cheese. Fortunately we can get the real stuff of that. But the selection is much more narrow than if we cross the pond.

  45. ¡¡ I love Rue Lepic. I try to go to that street every time I go to Paris. It’s not just the marvelous cheese shop it is also the shops around and the history of it. When ones love cheese it’s a must to visit that fromagerie 🙂

    • How wonderful to know someone else has noticed that shop. Montmartre is a place full of stories, of art, of the ghosts of painters like Picasso who lived and worked there, Vincent van Gogh and his brother and all the people he wrote of in his letters and painted in his colourful canvases. Some great little restaurants, too, full of Gallic charm and elan. Would love to go back.

  46. I have been browsing online greater than three hours nowadays, yet I by no means discovered any fascinating article like yours. It is beautiful worth enough for me. In my opinion, if all website owners and bloggers made excellent content as you probably did, the internet will likely be a lot more helpful than ever before.

  47. If you love cheese and ever find yourself in New York City you must make a visit to East Village Cheese!

    • I’d love to visit New York but the prospect is fast receding into the distance. Perhaps you could take some photos of this East Village Cheese and wow all us cheese lovers with its attractions.

  48. Rae says:

    ZOOOOMG, CHEESE!!!!!!! I think I have 7 or so varieties in my fridge right now. . . . They’re all goat and sheep cheeses, of course. I’m allergic to cow dairy. But my goodness, SO MUCH CHEESY GOODNESS OF AWESOME.

  49. I am very happy to read this. This is the type of manual that needs to be given and not the accidental misinformation that’s at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this best doc.

  50. I really appreciate this post. I have been looking all over for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You’ve made my day! Thx again

  51. I just read your cheesy article – good stuff – although I am reading it after breakfast and now fancy some cheese! I especially enjoyed the description of the school trip.

    • Thanks Bridget. Always like holidaying abroad in places where cheese is on the menu for breakfast so hope you just dipped into the fridge and enjoyed a piece of whatever cheese was there.

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