Your guide to serving, storing and of course, eating â?? great cheese

Many countries devote much time, effort and skill to their cheese-making in order to produce award-winning cheeses for both export and local consumption. This is a guide to some of my favourite cheeses and some tips on how best to enjoy them. 

Hard cheeses 

Parmesan â??  this Italian favourite is very hard due to the fact that it is matured for years. Parmesan is a great cooking cheese, and is fabulous grated over pasta dishes. A bolognaise sauce and a good Cabernet is a great way to enjoy Parmesan.

Gruyere â?? is a traditionally Swiss hard cheese which is known as one of the finest cheeses for cooking and is great in fondues too. Its flavour is described as fruity, later becoming earthy and nutty and many enjoy it with dessert wines or a good Port! 

Wensleydale â?? is a hard traditionally British cheese, mild and slightly sweet, a crumbly table cheese that is great with both apple pie and an unwooded Sauvignon Blanc wine. 

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Blue cheeses 

Gorgonzola â?? is an Italian-style blue cheese, sharp and spicy with a blue-green mould and great for salads, dips or melted into a risotto. Goes well with a Shiraz. 

Stilton â?? is a traditionally British blue cheese, milder than Roquefort or Gorgonzola that must be eaten when itâ??s rich and creamy as opposed to dry and crumbly. Delicious in salads or served as a dessert cheese with a good Port. 

Roquefort â?? is a French blue cheese which should have a buttery sheen when ripened, tasting of a combination of sheepâ??s milk and the metallic tang of the mould. Roquefort is lovely with seed loaves, walnuts, figs or as a salad dressing. A Noble Late Harvest is a great accompaniment. 

Semi-hard cheeses

Maasdam â?? is a Dutch-style cheese, sweet and buttery and similar to Emmenthaler, but more moist. Great as a grilled cheese snack and when served with meals, drink it with a Merlot. 

Edam â?? another Dutch cheese, Edam is a mellow and slightly sweet cheese with almost no smell. Edam is great with almost everything, especially melons and peaches and the good old Merlot once again. 

Semi-soft cheeses 

Brie â??  is a delicious, rich French-style cheese, described as having a mushroomy flavour when young, with a centre that gets softer with age. Brie is the perfect dessert cheese and also makes a great rich sauce. Enjoy it with a wooded Chardonnay. 

Camembert â?? is very similar to Brie but originated in a different region of France. Both Camenbert and Brie get stronger and runnier as they get riper. Once again, a wooded Chardonnay is a great wine to drink with this type of cheese.

Fontina â?? one of Italyâ??s greatest cheeses, Fontina has a delicate, nutty flavour with a hint of honey. Itâ??s great for cooking as it melts easily but great as a table or dessert cheese too and even better with a wooded Chenin Blanc or Chardonnay! 

Fresh cheeses

Haloumi â?? is a Greek-style cheese that when fried, is one of my favourite cheeses with a bacon and egg breakfast, first discovered on lazy Sunday mornings at Splashes Restaurant at the harbour. Haloumi has a layered texture, a salty flavour and can be fried or grilled. Itâ??s great with vegetables too, or as a starter and a Chenin or a Riesling are excellent wines to enjoy with Haloumi. 

Mascarpone â?? the cheese that makes Tiramsu one of the most delicious desserts on the planet, Mascarpone is an Italian, triple-crème cheese made form Crème Fraiche. It can also be added to Risotto and is especially delicious with a sweet dessert wine. 

Cheese storing tips 

Store cheese in the coldest part of your fridge and wrap it in tin foil or wax paper to allow it to breathe and develop further. (And prevent drying out.) Harder cheeses stay fresh for longer. Mould grows on any real cheese but wonâ??t harm you. Just cut it off. 

Freezing cheese

Freezing cheese stops the growth of mould and the ageing process. However, it tends to change the texture of the cheese, making it dry and crumbly. Wait until cheese is fully ripe before freezing. Freeze for days or weeks, NOT for months. Eat immediately after thawing as thawed cheese will not ripen further but will start to decompose. Thaw cheeze in the fridge.

The best way to freeze cheese is to cutit into small pieces or grate it, then put it into a container of resealable bag.

Cooking with cheese

Grate cheese before adding it to hot sauces and make sure you stir it in slowly, allowing it to blend gradually. Cheese is high in protein, so it tends to get tough when exposed to high temperatures or long cooking periods. 

Serving cheese

Take cheese out of the fridge an hour before eating, (Apparently it only develops its full flavour at room temperature) and use a different knife for each cheese to avoid cross-contamination of flavours.