If you’ve come to visit us at Lamoraga, you’ve likely seen someone order our popular Artisanal Cheeses or Meats and Cheeses assortment. “What is that?” You’re probably thinking, what exactly is an artisanal cheese, where did they originate, what are the different types? We’ll help give you the insider info on this growing culinary phenomenon.
First off, let’s discuss what makes a cheese artisanal. Most likely you’ve heard this term, especially when referring to food or crafts. For a cheese to be called artisan, it must be produced by hand using traditional craftsmanship. A major difference between mass produced cheeses you may find on grocery store shelves is that artisan cheeses are often aged and ripened. These techniques give the cheese a wide variety of flavors, smells, and textures. This differs greatly from the store-bought cheese which is usually mild in flavor as it is meant for a general palate.
One example of artisan cheese is called farmstead cheese. This type of cheese is made with milk from a variety of animals like cows, goats, or sheep. This milk must come from the producer’s own herds to be called farmstead. But this doesn’t meant that all artisan cheeses must use milk from just one farm, they can mix milk from multiple farms.
For now, the most widely acknowledged definition is from the American Cheese Society.
” The word ‘artisan’ or ‘artisanal’ implies that a cheese is produced primarily by hand, in small batches, with particular attention paid to the tradition of the cheesemaker’s art and thus using as little mechanization as possible in production of the cheese. Artisan, or artisanal, cheese may be made from all types of milk and may include various flavorings.”
Because of this handmade process to make the cheese, you will find many artisanal cheeses to be more expensive than the grocery store brands. But those involved in the craft enjoy this as a labor of love.
In January of 2014, the FDA was suggesting banning the use of wooden shelves to age cheese. This practice has been done in the cheese-making industry for centuries. But in June, the FDA released a statement to not ban the shelves, though it will be working with cheese makers to figure out which types of cheeses can safely be made using the wooden shelves.
Alright, now onto the juicy part! We’ll go over just a few of the more popular cheese types you may not be aware of. Head to your stores and see if you can try them out.
Texture: Semi Soft
Source: Cow’s milk, Norway
Flavor: Smooth and mild, hints of sour
Hint: You can even find it at Trader Joes
Brie de Meaux
Texture: Soft-rippened, creamy, smooth
Source: Cow’s milk, France
Flavor: Buttery, sweet, undertones of mushrooms, truffles, almonds
This pairs well with Champagne, or a red Bordeaux or Burgundy wine.
Texture: Chewy, crumbly
Source: Cow or water buffalo, India and Bangladesh
Aroma: Fresh, milky
This is a typical cheese in Indian dishes like Sandesh. It is sometimes even used in dessert.
Texture: Creamy, stringy
Source: water buffalo, Italy and US
Flavor: buttery, milky
Aroma: Fresh, Milky
This is a mix of cream and mozzarella. It’s great with salads, bread, prosciutto, tomatoes.