Unusual, Exotic and Rare Cheeses

10903 Unusual, Exotic and Rare Cheeses

Some cheeses with whimsical names can be a little bland. Some cheeses that have longer, difficult-to-pronounce or difficult-to-spell names can turn out to be altogether insipid. Some cheeses that look a little scary may actually taste just fine; they don’t frighten the palate as much as they do our eyes.

Names and looks tell you little about the quality of the cheese once it’s in your mouth.

A new addition to our line of American made cheeses is Brenda Jensen’s Ocooch Mountain – a wash-rind, semi-soft buttery sheep milk cheese that she creates at her Hidden Springs creamery in southwestern Wisconsin. The cheese looks a like a Torta del Casar or a Serena, just a little smaller, and without that little bitter note in the finish. It is a raw milk cheese, giving it a full aroma, a long flavor, an excellent texture, and a very good shelf-life.

Beermat (a.k.a.) Aarauer Bierdeckel (you can see why we abbreviate the name) is a cow milk cheese from Switzerland that is washed in wheat beer. Semi-soft, pungent, meaty, savory, and chock full of umami. This cheese is also made with raw milk, and it has tremendous keeping qualities. Granted, this aroma may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s important to keep in mind that what we smell may be significantly different from what we actually taste. The Beermat (like one of those little circular coasters upon which you set your beer glass) happens to pair very well with Pilners, Lagers, I.P.A.’s, and many white wines.

Fleuron is not that unusual in appearance (if you don’t mind the mottled rind); the name is not that difficult to pronounce (fluh-ROHN) but this type of cheese is delicious and a relatively rare type in the region where it is produced – the Aquitaine of southwest France. It is more of an alpine style of cheese. Perhaps the residents of Aquitaine recalled how much they loved those styles of cheeses and decided to make one themselves on the opposite side of France. This cheese is also made with raw milk; it has an exceptional shelf-life (quite frankly it ages very gracefully, like most all the other Alpine styles), and it is a great value too.

Fladä (full name Stanser Chuä Fladä – meaning a cow patty from Stans) is exquisite, a special occasion cheese, or one that you might just have for yourself. Delicious, luscious; this is a cheese that should be consumed in one sitting. I’ve saved this cheese overnight and does hold up well but it is always best when you first cut off the top – the undulating top that looks a little like its name would suggest, only pink.

Amarelo da Beira Baixa (full name – Queijo Amarelo da Beira Baixa) is almost as much fun to pronounce as it is to eat. Well, not really. Mixing the two milks – goat and sheep – gives you the best of both worlds. Harking back to a time when a family might have one ewe and a doe (a female goat), they would have mixed together whatever milk they did not drink into the production of a cheese that would sustain them when the fresh milk was no longer available. The cheese name means – Yellow Cheese from the Lower Beira. You might just call it Amarelo. Rustic, outstanding keeping qualities, this is one of a handful of cheeses from Portugal with D.O.P. status, certifying its provenance and methods of production.

Ubriaco Prosecco is another unusual cheese, in name and in its making. Essentially it is a pressed toma style of cheese from northern Italy. The name means “drunken in Prosecco.” The flavor of the grape lingers deep into the flavor of the paste within. This treatment of cheeses was originally practiced not only for the additional flavor and aroma but to help protect the rind.

Hittisau is another new addition to our line. Pronounced HIT-sow, this is a mountain style of cheese, cooked and pressed, similar to a Comté. From tasting this cheese we have taken a new focus on some of the cheeses of Eastern Europe. Great shelf-life, this cheese just doesn’t go “bad.” Each wheel weighs about 65 pounds so you could buy the entire wheel if you like and it will keep for you for months – that is if you don’t finish it sooner. Good price too.

Pecorino delle Balze Volterrane is not your typical Pecorino. The sheep milk is coagulated with thistle rennet instead of the traditional animal rennet that is used for most all the other sheep milk cheeses of Italy. This gives the cheese a delicate and unusual bitterness in the finish. The Pecorino delle Balze Volterrane is aged in oak barrels for 60 days, the rind covered in oak and olive wood ash. One reason they would cover cheeses in ash was to protect the cheese within from flies and other undesirables.

Spread the curd!
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