2. St. Agur (France)
Being considered more industrial than artisanal doesn’t make this cheese taste any less than delicious. Think butter with blue veins; creamy with a savoury dried sage note and light saltiness. Really easy to enjoy, if you’re putting an international blue on a cheese platter this one is sure to please everyone.
3. Parmigiano-Reggiano (Italy)
Buy your piece whole and break into chunks to nibble on, or grate as needed with a rasp. The mineral, saline, crystalline, nuttiness of this cheese is why it is considered the King of Cheeses.
4. Aged Manchego or Zamorano (Spain)
Both made from sheep’s milk which give them a delicious rusticity. Notes of grass and nuttiness. Its rich flavour highlighted with lemony tang and oily texture make it perfect for wine.
5. Camembert…the real one. (France)
Cheese should only be called Camembert if it is the genuine article coming from Normandy in the north of France. There are so many terrible recreations of this cheese that its image has been tarnished. If you haven’t tried the real thing you owe it to yourself to try a ripe, velvety round of Camembert with all it’s lovely mushroomy earthiness.
6. Farmhouse Cheddar (England)
The word Cheddar is synonymous with blocks of ubiquitous orange cheese, but it is also the name of the town where the cheese originated from. There are many versions, but look for a farmhouse version, orange or white, from a British producer. The good ones will deliver a delicious tangy, rich nutty flavour and a crumbly paste. There are also many well-made and easy to find Cheddar cheeses made in Canada and the US.
7. Mimolette (France)
This cheese is easily identifiable by its distinct orange colour and large round shape. It is made from cow’s milk and has the most pleasing aroma of caramel and butter. It’s texture is also lovely, from its younger version to the aged varieties this cheese offers a wealth of nutty, fruity flavour.
8. Pecorino (Italy)
The name of this cheese comes from pecora, the Italian word for sheep. And wherever there are sheep you will find Pecorino. The most widely available versions are Pecorino Romano (from the area around Rome), Sardo (from Sardegna) and Toscano (from Tuscany). The last is my favourite as the salting is not as heavy handed on this version. I always have a piece of Pecorino in the fridge as it’s a great cheese to nibble on with olives and sundried tomatoes as a quick snack, but is also an amazing grating cheese on pasta. It’s lemony tang and salty minerality add loads of flavour to whatever your preparing.
9. Macedonian-style Feta (Macedonia/Greek)
My advice on feta, find a brand you like and stick with it. There is nothing worse than a rubbery slab of flavourless feta, and there are many of them out there. Look for feta that is referred to as Macedonian-style, or Greek, and if you’re buying Canadian pick up one that is made from sheep’s milk. These are all creamier versions of feta and will heighten the flavour of any of your dishes. Feta should be pleasantly salty and briny, but you still should be able to taste the quality of the milk it was made from.
10. Crottin de Chavignol (France)
Having lived a year in the Loire region makes this cheese a sentimental favourite, in addition to the fact that it is scrumptious. Made from unpasteurized goat’s milk in the traditional pyramid form, when it is fresh it is grassy, creamy and tangy, and as it ages it reveals more rustic, barnyardy notes and becomes quite complex. A real treat and perfect with peach conserves.