As Americans grow up eating PB&J sandwiches, New Zealanders grow up eating cheese and marmite sandwiches! The cheese was cut from a 1kg block, usually with smears of marmite left on the block from the last person not having properly cleaned their knife!
As I grew up I was introduced to the chicken, cranberry & brie combo or camembert and Manuka honey which I still love. I’ve also grown to enjoy those strong-tasting, stinky cheeses.
Now when I’m in my local supermarket there are so many different cheeses to choose from, I’m almost overwhelmed with choice. How does one decide?
This week I met with Gino Pullara, a cheese expert from our incredible partner Wegmans.
Here’s how it went
Where did your love for cheese come from?
My family roots are Italian and German so as you can imagine, I learned a lot about Cheese from my parents. My Mom and Dad were cheese lovers so we always had different types of cheeses in our house and they were used in a variety of ways. I also worked in my cousin’s restaurant when I was in high school and learned a lot about cooking and how to use cheeses in recipes.
Where should I start when creating my cheese board?
We typically like to suggest a soft cheese like a Brie, a hard cheese, like a cheddar, Italian, or Gouda, and then a blue cheese. Of course, any cheeses can be placed on a cheese board. It truly is based on what our customers like best.
What is the best way to store cheese?
I would recommend a fresh piece of plastic wrap and then placing the cheese in the vegetable crisper drawer. If you have cheese paper, you can use that as well.
Do cheeses have seasons? If so what is a great cheese for Winter or Spring?
There really isn’t a “season” for the right cheese. At Wegmans, we might focus on a “taste of the season” and usually have a soft cheese like Brie and some type of hard cheese to pair with it. It really comes down to what a customer’s favorite is and what they might be using it for.
Is there anything we should avoid when making a cheese board?
There really is nothing you should avoid. We do recommend that if you have a soft cheese on a board, let your guests use a provided cheese knife. For harder cheeses, you can pre-cut them into pieces that your guests can easily pick off the board.
What’s the difference in flavor between goat’s milk, cow’s milk and sheep’s milk cheese?
Goat’s milk cheese tends to be more tangy or acidic. Goat’s milk cheeses have come a long way. In its basic form, think Chèvre, but similar to Cow’s milk cheese, you can also age a goat cheese into a Goat Cheddar (we have a great Wegmans Brand!) or if you really want to try something unique, try our 1916 Goat Cheese. This is actually aged in our cheese caves in Rochester by our Affineur Matt Callol. Sheep cheese is higher in fat and protein than cow or goat’s milk. The high butterfat content in sheep’s milk means sheep’s milk cheese is buttery and rich. Other typical flavors of sheep’s milk cheese are nutty and (in younger cheeses) gamy. For Sheep’s milk cheese think Feta, Manchego, and Pecorino Romano to name a few.
What are your favorite cheeses?
I love Taleggio. It is a soft ripened washed rind Italian Cheese. While it has a strong aroma, it is relatively mild and has a slight fruity tang to it. I love it with an olive tapenade and prosciutto on sliced baguette!
Anything else you want to add?
There is so much more to know about cheese. Sometimes it can be overwhelming. That’s why at Wegmans, we try to make it easy for you! Our passionate, knowledgeable Cheese employees are ready to assist customers with their selections and can guide them and make suggestions, whether they are making a cheese board, using cheese in a recipe, trying to pair a cheesewith fruit, bread, or charcuterie. We would love to help!