Monday, October 5, 2009

Say Cheese for Five Cheese Tips!

Have you ever been to a cheese shop? A real cheese shop? Where the cheese monger is more than willing to cut a slice of cheese off for you to taste? At no charge? Where the scents of grasses and nuts and clovers waft through the air? It’s a heavenly experience. You owe yourself a trip.

When you’re there, see how the cheese monger wraps up the cheese for your trip home. I'll bet she (or he) doesn’t smother it in plastic wrap. She wraps it in paper so the cheese can breathe. Cheese heads, cheese makers, dairy scientists, (and authors) say cheese is a “living thing.” It needs to breathe. So here are a few tips that I've gleaned over the past year while writing The Cheese Shop Mysteries.

Tip #1: When you get home, if the store you bought from wrapped your cheese in plastic wrap, rewrap it in wax paper or parchment. That allows it to breathe but protects it from drying out in the fridge.

Tip #2: If it’s a smelly cheese, place the paper-wrapped wedge in a plastic container. That still gives it a little air to breathe.

Tip #3: Don’t store the cheese in the deli bin. Put it in the produce bin which has a higher humidity.

Tip #4: Taste the cheese at the store first, if you’re allowed. Wheels of cheese can vary and one could be “off” or overripe. Be particular.

Tip #5: Try not to buy too much cheese. {I know, this is difficult!!! LOL} But buy only what you will consume in one week. That’s right, one week. Cheese should be enjoyed as “fresh” as possible. (Sort of like fish.) However, in weeks to come, I'll give you a wonderful recipe for your "leftover" cheeses.

And now, may I offer you one of my favorite dishes. It’s a no-cook dish…serving my favorite cheeses with a lovely wine, adding some olives, a little candlelight, and voila.

For those of you on the run, I hope you’ll enjoy the simple pleasures of cheese.

Tonight’s serving:

St. Agur's Blue is a blue cheese made from cow’s milk. It was developed in 1988 in the Village of Monts du Velay, in the Auvergne region of France by the cheese company Bongrain. Because of it’s rich butterfat content, it qualifies as a double-cream cheese. It becomes spicier as it ages and doesn't have the bite of Stilton.

Campo de Montalban is a semi-firm Spanish Cheese made from a blend of cow, sheep and goats’ milk in La Mancha. It is like manchego in texture, though manchego is only sheeps’ milk.

Cypress Grove's Purple Haze, a goat's milk cheese with hints of lavender and fennel. I just made Portobello Mushroom "Naked Burger" with this cheese melted on top.

Remember: Offer a simple cracker. Spicy crackers might overwhelm the cheeses.

And tonight's wine:
Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc, from South Africa, yummy, with a bouquet of tropical fruit and citrus. And reasonably priced.


If you check out my website, Avery Aames, you'll find more recipes and histories of cheese and links to wonderful cheese sites!

Say Cheese!


  1. You know, I don't think I've actually gone to a cheese shop since I was a child. Our grocer has a nice cheese selection, but you've inspired me to hunt out cheese shops in the Charlotte area. Thanks! And thanks for the tips on some great-sounding cheeses.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  2. Great tips, Daryl. I found my cheese lasts *much* longer since I don't wrap it in plastic or put it in an airtight container. Weird, but it works!

    ~ Krista

  3. Thanks, Avery! We do love cheese, and I've started paying better attention to my choices since reading your posts here. I didn't know that about letting cheese breathe! That's going to make a huge difference for us going forward!


  4. I can't wait to see your recipe for "old" cheese. After reading your post I think the chunk of cheddar currently residing in my fridge would be considered ancient!

  5. These tips are fantastic, Avery! I love the way you described the cheese as a living thing. I never thought of it like that, but it does make sense, given the cultures, etc. (LOL on Purple Haze - that's the greatest name for a cheese!)

    Just FYI - If you're ever in New York City for a visit, I have a recommendation for a truly wonderful cheese shop (it's a fun location, too): Murray's Cheese in Greenwich Village. They have a Web site if anyone lives in the NYC area and would like to find out more about the shop or get their address:

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  6. Ah, we're going to be more dependent on all of you than ever. The hot news on Twitter and Yahoo today is that Gourmet magazine is closing. I'm certainly not a gourmet cook, and seldom read it, but it's a shame after 68 years. Keep those recipes coming!

    Lesa -

  7. Avery-

    That post was fabulous! I am a total cheese
    hog! And I LOVE tip number 4 -- "be particular". That reminds me of the Sweet Potato Queens.

  8. Oh, I'm a cheese monster so I'm loving this post! I clearly remember as a child going with my father to a wine and cheese shop right near our home. The lovely woman who worked there would give me sample after sample of delicious cheese and I have such fond memories of sharing that experience with my father while savoring delicious flavors! And then when we went to France... well, you can imagine! All those wonderful little cheeses wrapped in paper and tied with string. YUM! We had a friend that competed in a tennis tournament in Epoisse and the prize? An Epoisee cheese! One of the smelliest cheeses around, but surprisingly not that strong. A cheese is my kind of prize!

  9. Lesa, I hate to hear that! Gourmet is one of my favorites.

  10. Thanks Avery! Cheese and wine are one of my greatest weaknesses - lunch, dinner, brunch, dessert. One of our local stores opened with a Murrays Cheese shop inside - heaven. You have given me some new choices for my next foray into the cheese shop.