Are you always looking for the same cheeses at the supermarket? With all the options out there, it can be hard to know which new cheeses to try. So we went to a cheese expert for advice and when we say expert, we mean it. Craig Gile, Northwest Regional Sales Manager at Cabot Creamery Co-operative, is a former professional cheese picker. He used to taste and evaluate up to 200 samples of cheese a day, so he’s tried just about every type on the planet.
Even if you don’t know what you’re looking for, Gile recommends talking to a cheesemaker at the grocery store. “The people who work as cheesemakers are super passionate,” she said, noting that they’ll offer great advice and can even cut you smaller pieces depending on your budget. Here are some of Gile’s picks to shake up your cheese drawer and put that charcuterie board to work.
Gile has seen halloumi cheese explode in popularity in other countries, such as Australia. And maybe it’s time for salty, buttery cheese to shine brighter here in the U.S. “It’s got everything us Americans like: It’s salty, it’s buttery, it’s gooey,” she said. “And it works neutrally by adding other things to it.” This Mediterranean cheese comes from the cypress tree and is great for cooking. When you grill halloumi, it develops a crispy outside and a sticky center.
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For an affordable goat cheese, Gile recommends Vermont Creamery’s Bonne Bouche, which is French for “good bite.” Due to the culture used in the cheesemaking process, it has a unique, wrinkled, brain-like appearance. Soft and creamy with a delicate flavour, Gile enjoys spreading it on baguettes or crackers or mixing it with jam or chutney.
Harbison and Winnimere
Both from Jasper Hill Farms, Harbison and Winnimere are aged cheeses wrapped with spruce bark. Once the top is removed, the inside is very sticky. We are talking about spoon. “It’s a pretty unique cheesy experience for a lot of people out there,” Gile said.
Raclette and Gruyère
If you want cheese to cook with (or just want some melted cheese to go with your fries), look no further than these two Swiss alpine options. Raclette has a little funk to it, but when eaten cold it has sweet and complex flavours. Gile describes Gruyère as approachable with clean, buttery notes.
When it comes to blue cheese, not everyone is a fan, unless it’s mixed in dips or sauces. “I think a hybrid approach I’ve taken is to take a good blue cheese and actually add it to, say, blue cheese dressing,” said Gile, who recommends Jasper Hill’s Bayley Hazen Blue. This pick doesn’t have a peppery flavor like other blue cheeses, so you can taste the grassy flavors of the milk.
Yes, we all know and love cheddar. While he may be a bit biased, Gile recommends spicing up signature cheddar with something like Cabot’s Habanero Cheddar. Although it’s very spicy, he said it doesn’t cover the acidity of the cheese. It’s also great for showcasing your creativity in the kitchen. Spicy mac and cheese, anyone?
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Allison Arnold is Associate SEO Editor at Delish, where she writes about kitchen gadgets, food and culture. She likes to exercise almost as much as she eats and she has an accurate Google Maps rating system for her favorite restaurants and bars. You can find her spewing hot takes on the world of food and planning her next trip, all with multiple cans of seltzer open at a time.