Tip: Extending your Cheese Knowledge

Some people are wine buffs - I would be a cheese buff. I can't get enough of the stuff, be it blue, bloomy, brown or basically all butter fat, I am a fan of them all.

A cheese course is pretty standard with most of my dinner parties. When choosing cheeses, people often want to stay with what they know, some cheddars, perhaps a herb crusted goat cheese or maybe out on a limb with a brie. There are so many cheeses out there that people don't fully take advantage of.

With my weekly clients, I try to 'fold in' a new cheese into their daily meals - like substituting an american blue with a castelmagno (Origin: Piedmont Italy; mix of cow and sheep or goat, but mostly cow's milk; mild, slightly tart and intensely nutty) or instead of the typical soft ash goat cheese, try the garrotxa (Origin: Catalonia, Spain; goat's milk, semi soft, natural rind; creamy, herby-probably from the herbs the goats ate-nutty and slightly acidic -just like goat cheese- in flavor). I've listed a recipe for each below that you may want to try.

So next time you are wandering into Whole Foods Clareton/Arlington or Balducci's Alexandria Old Town (these two locations are my favorites for cheese selection in Northern Virginia area)find your favorite cheddar, then look around at its "family" for cheeses with similar descriptions, you are sure to find something new that you really like and can add to your repertoire. At these two grocery store locations, the cheese staff is very helpful and generally more knowledgeable than most other grocery store locations (even wine/cheese shops) that I visit.

But if they aren't answering the questions you are asking - ask to see their Cheese for Dummies book. Both locations have one - and in a matter of seconds they can hand you the book to browse over for your favorite cheeses and its family members. Balducci's Old Town will even special order cheese for you at no additional charge. It'll take about a week, but they'll even call you when the cheese arrives, so you get the first nub off it!

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