Sunday, December 3, 2006

A Introduction to Cheese

The art of the cheesemaker is one of delicate balance. To produce a perfect cheese, with the right depth of flavour, the most mouthwatering texture and delicious aroma, depends on many factors. The milk - from cow, ewe or goat - the breed of animal and the type of pasture all have a bearing on the end result. So too do the complexities of making and maturing the cheese.To enjoy good cheese is to enjoy variety, contrast and subtlety. There's a cheese for every palate and for every occasion, from the mildest, blandest types, through a whole range of rich, mellow and buttery flavours, to the most pungent, sharp and salty cheeses at the far end of the flavour spectrum. Then there's an astonishing choice of colours and textures to enhance eye and palate. From firm handsome Cheddars through to crumbly, pale Wensleydales; from the soft white curds of Ricotta, to the oozing nature of ripe Brie or Camembert. Veined cheeses, charcoal coated, wrapped in leaves, enriched - the delights to be discovered are endless.Cheese originated as a money-conscious way of using up surplus milk, and different countries have developed their cheese-making and eating habits in different ways. The French serve it after the main course, before dessert; a habit which is becoming increasingly popular elsewhere. Italian pasta wouldn't be the same without a scattering of Parmesan; while the mild crumbly cheeses of England melt obligingly to make a wonderfully smooth Welsh rarebit.With so many types to choose from, cheese can be enjoyed in an infinite variety of ways. Savour it to the full by itself, with bread or biscuits, or as a partner for fruit. Complement it with a glass of wine; or let it add its own special note to a hundred-and-one different dishes. However you use it, cheese belongs in a class of its own.

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