I didn’t really have an interest in cheese until I spent a semester studying abroad in France, where I was exposed to not only the BEST goat cheese I’ve ever had, but incredible wine and charcuterie.
Since moving to Belgium, cheese has become even more integral to my diet as I discovered the cheese bowl with sprinkled celery salt. OMG. There is really nothing better to go along with your beer, and trust me, Belgians know their beer…and their cheese.
Brugge Goud (Goud d’Or or Brugge Gold) is a semi-hard cheese from the city of Brugge in Flanders. Versatile, this mild and creamy cheese is equally perfect on a cheeseboard as in a sandwich or even cooked into a dish. ☆☆☆☆
Chimay Grand Classique is a semi-hard Trappist cheese from the same wonderful monks who also brew the famous Chimay Trappist beers. Mild and creamy with just a little bit of tang to engage your interest, but not overwhelm your tastebuds, it’s a great accompaniment to any cheese and charcuterie platter. Produced with locally sourced milk and without preservatives, what’s not to love? ☆☆☆☆☆
Maredsous 45% is a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese made at the Maredsous Abbey in Anhée in Wallonia. This cheese again is very mild and great on a cheese plate or in a sandwich to accompany one of its fantastic abbey beers. ☆☆☆☆
Comté is a semi-hard unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese from the Franche-Comté region in eastern France. What’s interesting about this cheese is that it it still produced according to the same co-operative techniques that were used over a 1,000 years ago and the process is divided among three groups: the dairy farmers; the actual cheese makers, and the people who age the cheese. Why? I have no idea, but it works well because the cheese is delicious. It has a very particular taste, similar to a Gruyère, but not as strong, the Comté Extra Doux being a bit nutty and earthy. It’s fantastic served on a cheese plate, but actually would do well in a fondue or even shredded into a pasta sauce or melted over chicken. Truly a versatile cheese. ☆☆☆☆☆
Pierre des Burons is an unpasteurized (raw) cow’s milk cheese from Cantal in South-Central France. The name is in reference to the slate covered stone buildings found here among the mountains, which are actually volcanoes. It’s another fairly mild cheese that is only slightly acidic and fruity, perfect for a cheese board. ☆☆☆☆☆
Le navarrais tomme noire des Pyrénées is a hard sheep’s milk cheese from the French Basque country in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department. Navarre referencing Lower Navarre (a historical region in France) in this case, though I’m guessing they make similar cheeses across the border in Spain. Truth be told it reminds me more of a Spanish cheese, but perhaps it would be more accurate to say it is a characteristically Pyrenees cheese since food often is shaped by the land and not language. This one specifically, I find absolutely wonderful. Its mild, but still rich in flavor with a nice, sort of salty aftertaste. It’s perfect for a cheese board paired with walnuts and white grapes, or I would even dice it and throw it into a green salad with walnuts and pears, perhaps a light honey-dijon mustard vinaigrette. ☆☆☆☆☆
Appenzeller is an herbal brined, hard cow’s milk cheese from the Appenzell region in Switzerland. Herbal brine? Basically when the cheese is curing a brine comprised of various herbs and wine or cider is applied. Of course the exact ingredients used is a state (regional?) secret but depending on the length it matures, the flavor becomes more tangy or spicy. There are 3 varities: “Classic”- Aged 3-4 months (Silver label); “Surchoix”- Aged 4-6 months (Gold label); and “Extra”- Aged 6+ months (Black label.) I find the classic to be quite mild and like this one particularly to serve with grapes and nuts. ☆☆☆☆