Mar 162013
 

Cheese

And we have My Top 10 +1 Favorite Cheeses. The taste, flavor and texture of cheese for all of us can often be up for debate. And if you don’t like cheese then move along to my home page and find another fun read! This is not for the lactose intolerant.

So, my new baby of Top 10 +1 is born last week with this post. Wow, I knocked that one out of the park, huh? Will all of these be that successful going forward? Of course! But, how did I go from that post to this? Nutso, I”m tellin’ ya. No, it’s just foot in the mouth disease. Oh, wrong post. It’s more of just in the brain and out the mouth when it comes to my writing.

The temperatures outside have been rising and Spring Fever is upon us all. I went and bought three new pairs of pants three weeks ago. None of them fit. Argh! So, instead of returning them I told myself it was time to lose that weight. I don’t believe in fad diets. I do believe in eating lots of veggies and fruits and throwing in half portions of treat meals. Hey, I’ve lost 7 pounds so far. Woo hoo!

My kryptonite and food addiction is cheese. With losing weight and eating good I was craving a piece of cheese. And, as always, I had kept one on hand.

So, here are my favorite cheeses with lots of links to personal recipes, favorite recipes that I’ve made and a few pictures. The links are the highlighted blue text. Click on them and it takes you to more cool stuff. Just don’t over-click and get Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

+1 Pecorino Romano Cheese

Public domain image, royalty free stock photo from www.public-domain-image.com

This is a hard Italian cheese that has a sharp, tangy, salty, smokey flavor to me. Some fun trivia is that this cheese dates back to the Roman times hence the name. I’ve used it primarily in pasta and pizzas and of course it’s a classic with spaghetti. I used it for this super easy Pecornino Romano Chicken Breast recipe.

10 Ricotta Cheese
Ricotta Cheese

It comes from both Italy and the U.S. and has a very thick texture with a taste that will linger softly. I find it to have a slightly tangy taste just a bit less than cottage cheese. It’s wonderful for it’s smoothness that can be blended easily into baking ingredients to provide very tasty cookies and cheesecakes and even pancakes! Yep!

If you ever want to get excited about Ricotta cheese watch any of the Giada De Laurentiis shows on the Food Network where she uses it for an ingredient. Because when you hear her pronounce it with her Italian accent it is absolutely intoxicating.

Here is a Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Breast recipe I made that has ricotta in it. You will also see in that recipe that it has Parmigiano Reggiano which shows the versatility of Ricotta with other cheeses. But, the second I hear the mention of Ricotta I immediately think of lasagna. And the best lasagna I’ve ever eaten is a recipe handed down to me by my good friend, Theresa. It’s actually her mom’s recipe. Thanks Theresa!  Here is Theresa’s Lasagna Recipe

9 Taleggio Cheese
Taleggio Cheese

This is a very mellow Italian cheese that, while slight, it will let you know it’s there with its aroma. But, it will more than make up for it when the deep, buttery, meaty flavor melts in your mouth. Teleggio has a very creamy texture that works wonderfully on sandwiches and pizzas. For those of you out there who aren’t big fans of ham sandwiches this Grilled Ham and Taleggio sandwich recipe could change your mind. It was amazing!

8 Feta Cheese
Feta Cheese

This cheese comes from Greece and has a tangy, salty, sour taste and is very smooth and crumbles easily. It is very popularly known for being the cheese in greek salads. I made this Feta Salad Salsa recipe  and made a tortilla wrap out of it.  I have become a huge fan of Feta cheese over the past year because of lamb burgers and came up with my own recipe. Here is Mike’s Lamb Burgers. OMG, they are yummy!

7 Swiss Cheese
Swiss Cheese

So, here’s a trivia question for you. Where does Swiss cheese come from? Ahem. My first memory of Swiss cheese actually comes from my Mom’s gourmet cooking when she would make fondue. One of the melting pots would have melted Swiss. Picture grabbing a fondue fork, stabbing a piece of sourdough bread and dipping in that. Your mouth is watering admit it. Here is an easy Reuben Sandwich recipe I’ve made several times from Emeril Lagasse that you will love.

6 Gruyere Cheese
Gruyere Cheese

Gruyere cheese has a valley in Switzerland as it’s namesake. Here’s a picture of it . What a gorgeous place to eat cheese, right? Ironically the first thing I think of with this cheese is soup. But not just any soup. Check out this recipe of one of my favorite blogger’s, Michael Ruhlman, and his French Onion Soup  I know, it should illegal to post a food pic like that! A recipe that I love and have made a few times is Tyler Florence’s Chicken Cordon Bleu. As you see, it’s listed as an Intermediate recipe but trust me it’s super easy to make.

5 Provolone Cheese
Provolone Cheese

This one originates from Italy and provides a mild, smokey flavor. Many cheese heads (no, not the folks from Green Bay, Wisconsin who root religiously for their football team) compare it to Mozzerella Cheese. There is one very popular sub sandwich restaurant here in Reno that offers only one choice of cheese on all of their sandwiches. Any guesses? Yep, you win! And you know what, it works. If I want the best sub sandwich in Reno I will order The Gargantuan. I know, did you see all of those ingredients? It weighs like a brick, but tastes like a brick of gold. Here is a Jimmy John’s Gargantuan Sub Eating Contest. I wasn’t invited but I would have easily won.

4 Fresh Mozzerella Cheese
Fresh Mozzerella Cheese

The first thing I think of with this cheese originally from Italy are the Mozzerella sticks. I keep them on hand because it’s the one human food that my Golden Retriever, Phoenix, can have. He can be out in the yard far way and if he hears the tear of the plastic covering he comes rumbling in like a freight train. He gets one stick in bites and I will snack on another. But, I’m talking about the real Mozzerella. You know, the kind you find in the deli or cheese section at the supermarket rolled up and packaged in a ball. They look great for a water balloon fight only these will leave a mark. I don’t have any recipes per se on this other than I will use it on homemade Boboli pizzas. Oh, remember me mentioning having Giada De Laurentiis and her pronunciation of “Ricotta”? Listen to her say “Mozzerella” and you will take up smoking. I’m so not kidding.

3  Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese

Again, those Italians. Gawd, do they know how to make cheese! This is the upgraded brother of Parmesan. The real cheese not the stuff in the plastic container. It grates easily over pasta and finished pizzas. Did you know that for the true brick oven pizza oven makers that they can’t use this cheese because it burns due to the intense heat? Well, those Italians better figure that one out.  I’ve boiled or baked veggies and grated some Parmigiano Reggiano over them and you’ve arrived at a completely new plate of taste and eating. Rice? Amazing. Any pasta? You won’t be able to get enough. You get the idea. And it doesn’t take alot. In of itself it can be a bit pungent but here is a recipe I’ve made several times.

2 Monterey Jack Cheese
Monterey Jack Cheese

I always, always have a package of shredded Monterey Jack Cheese in my refrigerator. From the U.S. it often gets intertwined with Colby. So, where does this cheese originate from? Hint, one of the most beautiful, popular places on the West Coast of the State of California. That’s Monterey, California for those of you going 0-fer nothing on triva. I can use it to top a turkey burger, toss it onto a naked tortilla to melt, or the best ever chicken enchiladas. I use it all the time because it is an amazing melting cheese. It’s sweet and savory and enhances everything that promotes having melted cheese added to it. Here is a pass down recipe from my mom, Foyann, that is so simple and flexible for ingredients and mouth watering. Mom’s Pasta, Ground Turkey, Vegetable Casserole

1 – Tillamook Medium Cheddar Cheese
Tillamook Medium Cheddar Cheese

USA! USA! USA! Apologies to Italy, Switzerland and Greece for all of your great cheese I enjoy so much. But, Tillamook’s Medium Cheddar Cheese is, and has been, easily my favorite for 20 years. Retiring to the Tillamook Valley in Oregon is tempting for me because not only is it beautiful, but it’s home to my food kryptonite. Superman was the Man Of Steel. When it comes to this specific cheese I’m The Man Of Gimme Gimme Gimme More! My refrigerator is never without slices of it present there. Many years ago my close friends, Kim and Duane, bought me two cheese loafs (yes, I said loafs) and four packages of tortellini for Christmas. I actually gnawed and chomped on the actual loaf as I peeled off the orange packaging. Don’t be judgmental! I will use it with and for anything that can possibly match up with cheddar cheese.  This cheese is the lottery winner for me. Sweet, smokey and savory and it is like no cheese you could ever possibly want for. Any sandwich (roast beef, turkey or tuna melt)> Delicous. Shredded over pasta? Amazing. Melted over pizza? Make me two. It is the major feature to my favorite Macaroni and Cheese recipe from my friend, Lyn, that I will share with you now.  I modified it with the cheese only. Mac and Cheese Please

So, what’s your favorite cheese?

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Mike Vogler

I have been told (many times) that I really need to write a book about my life. The past 40+ years have been an exciting ride, and these days I find myself with a great many passions. However, I feel that this website is a much more personal way with which to share my musings, stories, commentary, and (of course) my greatest love... my Golden Retriever, Phoenix.

  43 Responses to “My Top 10 +1 Favorite Cheeses”

  1. I need a hand full of raisins and some prune juice! Crazy as it is, I’ve actually spoke to people who don’t like cheese. That’s as off as not enjoying a nice hot slice of Apple Pie or frosty cold bottle of beer. The older I get the more my tongue craves flavors it has never experienced. Keep it clean people! It can be intimidating to cook with new ingredients for the first time; a lot goes into a meal for it to flop. It’s nice to have a little background of the cheese and different recipes to try them in. I’m always looking for something new and delicious to make for the family.

    • LOL Carolyn! Oops..I forgot about offsetting this post with some reference to fiber. Cheese can be so encompassing in a great way with so many things we eat. It’s an amazing ingredient….and protein btw! Thanks again my friend, as always :-)

  2. I always have cheese on hand, and like you, Tillamook medium is my all time favorite!

  3. Mmmm, cheese!
    Is there a such thing as bad cheese? Maybe fromunda cheese,but that would be it!
    My favorite is smoked cheddar. Love it on my subs and on french dips!
    I also always have a bag of shredded fiesta blend to throw on top of foods kept handy in the fridge.

    • You nailed it on “is there such a thing as bad cheese?” Tony. I hear you on the shredded cheese. It is a food/recipe “lifesaver”!

  4. Great post and yes, my mouth is watering! I absolutely love all cheese. My friend makes a killer cheese ball during the holidays. It has three different cheeses in it. I love getting a cheese plate for dessert at nice restaurants or on cruise ships. Blue cheese definitely is in my top 10, but it would be hard for me to rank my favorite cheeses because I love all cheese!

    • Me and cheese balls at a dinner party are like me telling Phoenix he can’t chomp down on his tennis ball and run with it. It isn’t a pretty site, Diane!

      I had Bleu Cheese and Gorgonzola on my list of about 20! This was a difficult Top 10 to do with my little cheese “problem”. :-)

  5. I’d have to go with the Tillamook Extra Sharp Cheddar. Oooooh boy is that stuff goooood!!! I have to go raid the fridge now!

    • You aren’t the first person who has told me about considering Extra Sharp Cheddar for recipes. I will look into that in the immediate future sir!

  6. I have to go with Ed on this one! Extra Sharp Cheddar all the way :) With some wine though!

    • Argh, and the second person arrives at the comment party on Extra Sharp Cheddar. Ok, ok, ok! Next cheese recipe where it applies I’m all in! :-)

      And with a white or blush wine!

    • Neither…Red!!! Pinot or Merlot ;)

    • Ok, between your Merlot comment and Jenn’s Merlot flavored cheese comment I’m going to open new doors. Dangit I need my cell phone for the emoticon choice here :-)

  7. I am between. Myfavorite is Tillamook Sharp Cheddar! Dan makse the BEST simple Nachos with it! One of the best things about Football Sunday’s is having Dan’s Nachos! However, on the occasion they are out of the Sharp cheddar, I will go with either the Medium or Extra Sharp!

    • Thanks Kerry! Lordy, what is up with the Extra Sharp? If I didn’t already have a white bean chili in the crock pot I would be diving in head first now on all of these recommendations.

  8. Cheese. Love cheese. Tilamook is great! But my new favourite is http://www.sartoricheese.com/. They have different flavours. Best so far that I have tasted is the Balsamic and Asiago Extra-Aged. They can be a little hard to find in this town. Other flavours they have are Merlot, Raspberry and even an Espresso!! It’s all about the cheese!!

    • OMG I totally whiffed on Asiago! My always wise, on the ball friend, Jenn, arrives to the scene. I totally spaced that one. Argh! Ok, that website is really cool. And are you kidding me on the flavors? Ordering immediately! Thank you! :-)

  9. Love that American

    • B.L.P. I’ve received some emails on my neglecting American Cheese. And Velveeta too! So, you are not alone in your sentiments :-)

  10. Impossible as it might seem. . . .tillamook cheddar was introduced to me at least 20 years ago – maybe more – by our Aunt Marge – your grandmother’s younger sister and my godmother – and it has been my favorite to this day – to see it as #1 on your favorites is too amazing to be believable – but I believe it!

    • Oh wow Mary Helen that is SO ABSOLUTELY AWESOME!!! This made my night! I love you so much!

  11. You forgot several that should be in the top 10. Easy, Cottage, and Cream. Easy cheese is probably….actually it is better than any other cheese around. You dont have to slice it, and its great on bratwurst. Cottage cheese is amazing on people, although the taste is difficult to aquire for some. Cream cheese is creamy.

    On a serious note though. Tillamook is my number one as well. I have several good memories of my mother and I headed to cannon beach Oregon or Seaside Oregon, and stopping by the tillamook factory to sample cheese and then have homemade ice cream. Great memories.

    • Thanks Chad! Another great comment with other cheeses! I absolutely loved you sharing that story about you and your mom. That is the best! Thank you so much, my friend. That definitely brought tears to my eyes.

  12. As an Italian, I love all of the above mentioned Italian cheeses, especially on any pasta dishes. Another good use for mozzerella is on meatball subs! Good stuff. My favorite on sandwiches though is Swiss cheese. I just decided its too hard to chose one. :-) Great post Mike!

    • Thanks Adrian! Oh wow good call with the Mozzerella on the meatballs sub. Wow, that sounds good! And you can choose as many as your favs as you like! :-)

  13. My favs are:

    3: Havardi

    2: Tillamook Pepperjack

    1: Goat Cheese of any kind

    Great blog Mike!

    • Thanks, Cameron! I really appreciate that sir. Goat cheese was on my draft list. But, I definitely spaced Havarti. Good call!

  14. Velveeta doesn’t even get an honorable mention! This list is total BS. Have you ever heard the tag line, “Forget the cheddar, Velveeta is better”?

    • Hi Processed cheese, that’s ironic on the Velveeta. That was the ONLY cheese that we ever had in the fridge when I was growing up. What would be a good wine pairing?

    • Wine coolers (any flavor) and some Ritz crackers go great with Velveeta.

    • Wow, I haven’t had a wine cooler in probably 15 years but I love them. Reminded me of California Coolers. They were a mega hit…made those guys rich beyond belief. I will definitely have a retro-day here soon! :-)

  15. Well Mike, you hit another home run with this post – over the fence – outa the park! I really enjoyed reading about all of your cheese choices. Permit me to offer one of my personal favorites – Mizithra, also spelled Myzithra, Greek goat cheese. This is what I would call a “speciality” cheese, since it is not one that you would use on a wide variety of dishes. But, I have found that shredded over pasta is outstanding. Might be worth a try. At 15.5 % fat, and a whopping 15% protein, it is winner in my book.

    • Thanks John! Wow, I’ve received a great updated education on cheese through the comments on this post! I will definitely at Mizithra to the next to try list!

  16. Happy St. Pats Day,

    Great recipes definately going to try the Ruben just mouth watering.

    Very good post, good reading and pics

    • Happy St Patty’s Day to you too, Pam! Thank you on the post. And yes, you will love that Reuben. It’s super easy to make and OMG it tastes amazing!

  17. I am not the connoisseur of cheese as you and “Dirty D.” I tend to like the plain, boring everyday cheeses, ie: cheddar, swiss, mozzerella and pepper jack. Some of them you spoke of, I can’t even pronounce! Cream Cheese however is very versitile and yummy in cheesecake form! If you want to try a fun, fattening quick treat: Shread some pepper jack and toss it over nacho doritos and throw under the broiler for a couple of minutes. Yum.

    • Linda, there is nothing boring about cheddar, swiss, mozzerella and pepper jack cheeses! I definitely like the pepper jack melted over Nacho Doritos suggestion. Thanks! :-)

  18. OMG Mike, you can’t be serious! It’s because you are dieting, isn’t it? This torture?
    I want to run out right now and spend a hundred bucks on cheese!

    If I go through this week without trying Gruyere on some homemade French Onion soup, I’ll be angry!

    Swiss is my main go-to cheese for sandwhiches. Sharp Cheddar for anything Mexican and grill cheeses.

    I love those wine-cheese spreads and balls at holiday time on crackers.

    I like everything from Tillamouk. I even their butter.

    • Great comments, Hugh! Wow, the overwhelming response on sharp cheddar. It is SO high on my to try list! And some other specialty cheeses that have been mentioned. It’s also been awesome at how many fellow Tillamook lovers I have out there. You and your wife should make that Ruhlman French Onion soup this week. Just save one for me please! :-)

  19. I LOVE cheese!

    I have to disagree with ONLY one of those. Gruyere. OYE! My mom made something with Gruyere once. I came downstaris and asked where the football team was. She said, “What?” I said, “It smells like a men’s locker room down here.”

    But with the other cheeses, definitely yummy! One you didn’t list that I absolutely love but can’t have often is Brie. Ahhh, Brie. :) Mmmmmm.

    • Anne, yes Brie is another great choice! That’s a very funny story with your comment to your mom! :-) I’ve never known Gruyere to be a stinky cheese though having used it quite a bit.

  20. Some of the hard varieties include parmesan-reggiano, pecorino-romano and asiago.
    But chocolate candy bars high in chemicals, wax and sugar are not beneficial at all.
    You can place the pre-packaged cheese in a strong freezer bag, squeeze all the air out and plop directly into freezer.

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