Cheeses

I could go on for days about all the cheeses I love and why I love them. When I was in graduate school in Chicago, I frequented the cheese counter at Fox & Obel, and with the guidance of a wonderful cheesemonger named Mike, I educated my palate about cheese (often accompanied by a glass or two of wine).

Now I live in SF and am constantly coming across incredible local cheeses thanks to places like the Cowgirl creamery shop at the Ferry Building and Local Mission Eatery.

Below is a list of some of the cheeses I have tried over the years and brief notes about each cheese. I list the type of milk, the texture (fresh, soft, washed-rind, semi-soft, firm, hard) and when possible, the maker. And sometimes wine pairing suggestions.  Appropriately, I've marked my all-time favorites with a ♥ 
Let me know if you have a favorite cheese that isn't on the list! Enjoy!

CA
     Cypress Grove
  • Purple Haze, Cypress Grove, goat, fresh :: fresh chevre dusted with lavender and fennel pollen, refreshing, tangy and clean. Wine pairing: a citrus, grassy Sauvignon Blanc ♥
  • Humboldt fog, Cypress Grove, goat, soft :: dense chevre center and creamy, melty just under bloomy rind, vein of vegetable ash, outstanding cheese. Wine pairing: I love it with a fruity Russian River Valley Pinot or an oakey Chardonnay
  • Truffle tremor, Cypress Grove, goat, soft :: ripened, creamy and lush goat's milk cheese with specks of earthy black truffles in the dense interior, tangy, velvety. Wine pairing: Play with the mushroom notes by pairing with an earth and mushroom laced California Pinot Noir 
  • pee wee pyramid, goat :: light lemony chevre. Wine pairing: grassy and citrusy Sauvignon Blanc
  • Lamb chopper, Cypress Grove, goat,  semi-firm :: gouda, smooth and buttery, fruity, mild
  • Midnight moon, Cypress Grove, goat, firm :: dense goat's milk cheese, ivory in color and slightly grainy and nutty, notes of brown butter and hints of caramel. Wine pairing: I like to go red on this one. Try a Pinot Noir or a fruit forward Sonoma Valley Zinfandel, or if you really prefer white, you can't go wrong with Spatlese Reisling or Vouvray ♥
     Cowgirl Creamery
  • Mt. Tam, Cowgirl creamery, cow, soft :: triple cream, silky, buttery and lusciously rich with a mild mellow earthy flavor, slightly salty. Wine pairing: pair with something sparkling
  • Red Hawk, Cowgirl creamery, cow, soft and washed rind :: supple, pungent washed rind triple cream with a lusciously creamy texture, intense aromas of earth and mushrooms but milder on the palate. Wine pairing: pair with a Sauternes
  • Sir Frances Drake, Cowgirl creamery, cow, soft :: rare find, aroma of salty ocean air, like the Pacific Ocean, creamy and luscious like Mt. Tam but not as briny and pungent as Red Hawk. Wine pairing: a fruity white or a sparkling wine

    Other California cheeses
  • Buratta, Di Stefano, fresh :: even more heavenly and more creamy than the freshest fresh mozzarella
  • Nocturne, cow, Andante, soft :: firm and tangy when young, buttery and runny with notes of mushroom when mature. Wine pairing: an earthy Pinot Noir
  • Crescenza, cow, soft, Bellweather farms :: Italian cheese that is spreadable and wonderful melted in soups
  • St. George, cow, semi-firm, Matos :: grassy and rich, depth. Wine pairing: medium bodied Chardonnay
  • Pepato, sheep, semi-firm, Bellweather farms :: peppercorns, nutty and citrusy. Wine pairing: Sonoma Zinfandel
  • Black eyed susan, sheep, firm,  Garden variety cheeses :: fruity, nutty with a tangy rich finish, raw sheep's milk taste is strong if it sits out for too long. Wine pairing: full bodied Cabernet
  • Fiscalini bandaged cheddar, cow, firm, Fiscalini Farms :: earthy, nutty, tangy, outstanding cheddar. Wine pairing: delicious with a big and ripe Sonoma Zinfandel 
  • San Joaquin Gold, cow, firm, Fiscalini Farms:: cheddar-like, nutty, buttery, granular texture. Wine pairing: full bodied Chardonnay or my personal favorite, a Cabernet
  • Vella dry Jack, cow, hard :: brittle, dry, rubbed with black pepper and cocoa, delicately sweet and salty, sharp tangy. Wine pairing: pair with a fruity California Cabernet
  • Point reyes blue, cow, blue :: dense, moist and creamy, robust, tangy, incredibly smooth. Wine pairing: tawny port 
WI
  • Marieke gouda, cow, firm :: sharp with a lovely nuttiness
  • Mona, sheep and cow, firm, WSDC :: sweet and nutty, with nice acidity, and a slightly aged texture
  • Pleasant ridge reserve, cow, firm, Uplands Cheese Company :: nutty caramel, finishes with a bite. Wine pairing: try it with a Spatlese Riesling or a Beaujolais ♥
  • Roth's private reserve, cow, firm, RothKäse  :: creamy buttery and elegant, sweet, barnyard
  • Espresso Bellavitano, sartori, cow, firm :: rind is rubbed with espresso while cheese matures, sweet, nutty, and pretty delicious for mass producer 
  • Dante, sheep, firm, WSDC :: rich, nutty, firm texture, incredible finish
  • Little darling, cow, hard, Brunkow Cheese :: Wine pairing: pair with a floral and acidic white ♥
  • Ocooch Mountain sheep's milk cheese, raw sheep, firm :: nutty and sweet, slightly granular texture 
  • Stravecchio, sartori, hard :: like parmigiano 

Other domestic US
  • Constant bliss, cows, soft :: creamy, oozey, tangy, mushroomy, paste enclosed in a white pillowy rind, pure decadence. Wine pairing: unbelievable with champagne 
  • Flagship Reserve, Beecher's handmade cheese, cow, hard :: excellent, concentrated flavors, rich, mellow acidity. Wine pairing: pair with a fruity medium bodied red
  • Capriole o'bannon
  • Hoja santa, goat, fresh, Paula Lambert in Dallas, Texas  :: wrapped in an hoja santa leaf 
  • Barely buzzed, cow, semi firm, Beehive Dairy, Utah :: full bodied, earthy, cheddar-like, nutty, rind rubbed with espresso and lavender
  • Seven sisters, cow, hard, Doe Run Dairy, Pennsylvania
  • Cabot clothbound cheddar, cow, firm :: sharp and creamy, caramel notes, pair with a fruity pinot noir from California
  • Coupole, chevre, fresh, Vermount butter & cheese company
  • Scamorza, smoked, cow, semi-soft, Paula Lambert in Dallas, Texas :: smooth, smoky and wonderful melted
  • Grayson, cow, soft, washed rind, Meadow Creek :: looks like taleggio, stinky intense aroma, softens to a silky but not melting texture, bitter and sharp, incredible flavor but I can't have more than a bite or two, pairs well with mustard
  • Middletown tomme, cow, Vermont :: creamy, nutty tangy at start, and pungent 
  • Manchester, goat, firm, Consider Bardwell Farm :: aged, earthy and bright with notes of fruit and nuts, crumbly texture, sharp
  • Maytag blue, cow, blue :: creamy, sharp, tangy
  • Crater lake blue, Oregon, blue :: robust, silky and buttery, rich and sweet, big and sharp-edged. Wine pairing: pair with an icewine or a Sauternes
  • Great Hill Blue, cow, blue :: rich and caramel, complex
  • Ewe's blue, sheep, blue :: creamy and rich and tangy

France
   Soft
  • Bucheron, goat, soft :: with bloomy rind, rich and creamy and fresh and soft. Wine pairing: try with a citrusy and grassy Sauvignon Blanc
  • Cabecou feuille, goat, soft :: small disc of fresh goat, dipped in brandy sprinkled with black pepper and wrapped in chestnut leaves, smooth, creamy with a tangy bite, lemony, has a kick, delightful!  
  • Banon, goat, soft  :: wrapped in chestnut leaves, lacks the flavor of cabecou feuille
  • Brillat savarin, cow, soft :: triple cream, buttery, dense. Wine pairing: pair with sparkling wine
  • Chaource, cow, soft :: double cream, mushroom, creamy and smooth. Wine pairing: pair with a blanc de blanc sparking wine
  • Fromage d'affinois, double cream (France) :: always a favorite.. buttery, rich with bloomy rind. Wine pairing: pair with a rich Chardonnay 
  • Gratte paille, cow, triple cream :: Wine pairing: begs for sparkling wine or champagne
  • Pierre robert, cow, soft :: triple cream, buttery smooth and mild, decadent. Wine pairing: pair with a rich Chardonnay
  • St. andre, cow, soft :: bloomy, buttery, bitter in a mellow, non-overpowering way, very plesant
  • Brie de meaux, cow :: bitter, not as moist, mushroom and barnyard
  • Delice de bourgogne, cow, soft :: triple cream, velvety rich, salty, pungent/earthy and lemony, decadent, first had with RG
  • Creamuex de bourgogne affne, cow, triple cream :: milder than delice de bourgogne but with a good amount of lemon
   Washed Rind
  • Epoisses, cow, washed rind :: was my number one cheese for years, first tasted at gramercy tavern, stinky aroma, oozey and sponnable, melty, salty, buttery, mild bite, fruity, decadent and silky. Wine pairing: with a fuller Pinot Noir  ♥ 
  • Affidelice , cow, washed rind :: oozey, melty and spoonable like epoisses, less pungent aroma, salty and mushroomy, silky, just might be better than epoisses!!! Wine pairing: full Pinot Noir 
  • Langres, cow, washed rind :: dense, very creamy, rich and buttery, peppery and assertive 
  • Pont l'eveque, cow, washed rind :: salty, rich and soft, buttery and tangy, full bodied. Wine pairing: begs for a bright fruity white
  • Livarot, cow, washed rind :: pungent aroma, washed with salty water, meaty, nutty, earthy. Wine pairing:with a dry Riesling from Mosel
  • Gres des vosges, washed rind :: robust aroma of mushrooms and hay, creamy under the rind and firmer in the center. Wine pairing: with a white from Alsace  

   Semi-soft to semi-firm

  • Bethmale, cow, Pyrenees, semi-soft :: richer and creamy, pungent aroma, grassy notes and earthy rind
  • Bethmale, cow and goat mix, semi-soft :: younger than the cow, with small holes on the surface, somewhat of a bite, not as heavy as the cow
  • Chabichou du poitou, goat, semi-soft :: dense chalky paste interior with a crinkly skin, tangy. Wine pairing: pair with a bright acidic white like a Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre or Pouilly-Fume    
  • Tomme de savoie, cow, semi-firm :: nutty, grassy flavor, paste like texture, gray brown rind
  • Tomme du fedou, goat, semi-firm ::  earthy, firm, hay, it was OK
  • Morbier, cow, semi-firm :: ash, fruity flavor with a sharp zing at the finish, elastic. Wine pairing: pair with Beaujolais or any light and fruity red
  • Abbaye de belloc, sheep, semi-firm :: mild, but can be rich and fruity, prefer comte or beaufort
   Firm
  • Comte, cows, firm :: nutty and fruity, balanced and more restrained than ossau-iraty
  • Beaufort, cow, firm :: fruity and nutty
  • Chabrin, goat, firm :: moist, slightly sweet nuttiness balanced with saltiness, aged but creamy
  • Ossau-iraty, sheep, firm :: creamy and buttery but firm, fruity with notes of toasted hazelnuts, luscious, complex. Wine pairing: try with a fruity red
  • Cantal, cow, firm :: like a cheddar
  • St. nectaire, cow, firm :: fruity and vegetal, hay, mildly sharp, supple but firm
   Blue
  • Bleu d'auvergne, cow, blue :: paste like, grassy,nutty,  spicy and pungent, sharp and balanced. Wine pairing: pair with Port
  • Blue st. agar, cow, blue :: moist, creamy mildly spicy. Wine pairing: pair with port
  • Roquefort, sheep, blue :: salty and wonderful. Wine pairing: pair with Sauternes

Holland
  • Ewephoria, sheep, gouda :: butterscotch, nutty and crunch
  • Roomano, cow:: aged, similar to gouda, sweet, salty, crunchy with butterscotch
  • Reypenaer VSOP, cow :: aged 2 years, sharp with crystals, nutty, salty and sweet, crunchy, intensely wonderful 

Italy
   Soft
  • Brunet, goat, soft :: bloomy, white rind, dense, cake-like, creamy, mushroom aroma, silky and tangy on the palate, spreads like butter, young. Wine pairing: pair with a medium bodied Chardonnay
  • Tomini with truffle, cow, fresh :: bathed in sunflower seed oil and topped with slices of truffle
  • Tomino da padella, cow, soft :: thin round with a white rind, soft and very pungent 
   Washed Rind
  • Taleggio, cow, washed rind :: stinky aroma, pungent, meaty and intense. Wine pairing: amazing with Lambrusco
   Semi-soft to Semi-firm
  • Sottocenere, cow, semi-soft :: truffle, nutmet, coriander, cinnamon, licorice, cloves and fennel on the ashed rind, did not love the texture 
  • Pecorino ginepro, sheep, semi-firm :: salty, nutty, slightly herbaceous flavors married with a slightly sweet finish, rind is rubbed with balsamic vinegar and cheese is soaked in juniper berries
  • Pecorino foglie de noce, sheep, semi firm ::  milky, nutty, crumbly but creamy, vegetal and peppery, matured wrapped in walnut leaves. Wine pairing: go local and pair with a full bodied Italian white
   Firm
  • Pecorino pepato, sheep, firm :: peppercorn dot the salty, firm sheep's milk cheese. Wine pairing: beautiful with Amarone
  • Pecorino tartufo, sheep, firm :: truffle-infused
  • Pecorino toscano stagionato, sheep, firm :: dense texture, nutty flavor, not as salty as pecorino pepato, best thinly sliced
  • Trugole, cow, firm :: floral,fruity slight tang
   Hard
  • Parmigiano reggiano aged 20 months, cow, hard :: nutty, dry, caramel, savory and complex
  • Piave vecchio, cow, hard  :: savory, nutty, slightly crunchy but smooth. Wine pairing: pair with a Super Tuscan or Amarone 
  • Podda classico, cow and sheep, hard :: sweet, nutty, lemony, not quite as dry as piave vecchio. Wine pairing: great with Shiraz or a full bodied red
  • Grana padano, cow, hard :: nutty, sweet, fragrant, cousin of parmigiano 
   Blue
  • Gorgonzola picante (spicy)
  • Gorgonzole dolce (creamy)
  • Mountain gorgonzola, cow, agd 6 to 12 months :: sweet and creamy but balanced. Wine pairing: pair with a tawny Port

Spain
    Soft
   Semi-soft to semi-firm
  • Las mil ovejas, sheep, semi-firm :: mild, fruity, smooth texture
  • Mahon, cow, semi-firm :: pungent, acidic, salty, incredible with Madeira
  • Garrotxa, goat, semi-firm :: cake-like texture, hay, grass, slightly peppery. Wine pairing: pair with something Spanish like a cava or a fruity Tempranillo
   Firm
  • Malvarosa, sheep, firm :: salty, buttery, cured in a cheese cloth, and a nice smooth texture, delicious addition to a Spanish cheese plate
  • Roncal, sheep, firm :: full, gamey, robust
  • Manchego aged 12 mo, sheep, firm :: everyone's first love. Wine pairing: fantastic with a Cabernet
  • Drunken goat, goat, firm :: ivory white cheese with wine colored rind, cured in wine, sweet, fruity and smooth texture, left me wanting more
   Hard
  • Idiazabel, sheep, firm:: slightly smokey, rich, nutty and very hard. Wine pairing: pair with Tempranillo or a sherry
  • Ros or ombra, sheep, hard :: butterscotch, buttery, shows restraint, gamey
  • Zamorano, sheep, hard :: nutty, salty, gamey, rich and lingering, step aside manchego!
   Blue
  • Covadonga, cow and sheep, blue :: spicy but milder than valdeon
  • La peral, cow and sheep, blue :: less intense than valdeon
  • Valdeon, cow and goat, blue :: wrapped in oak or sycamore leaves, dense, intense, salty, spicy, but less so than cabrales
  • Cabrales, cow and goat, blue :: super intense, mean, big, very spicy. Wine pairing: begs for a glass of Sauternes
Switzerland
  • Vacherin mont d'Or, cow, washed rind :: woodsy oozey cheese, straw and hay, decadent
  • Vacherin fribourgeous, cow, semi-firm :: grassy, nutty with scent of hay, sharp, uneven rind. Wine pairing: pair with an earthy Pinot Noir
England and Ireland
  • Huntsman, cow, semi-firm :: Double Gloucestor cheddar with layers of Stilton. Wine pairing: great paired with port
  • Berkswell, sheep, firm :: notes of caramel and brown butter and nutty and sweet on the plate with a sharp, heavy finish
  • Ardrahan Farmhouse, cow, firm :: firm and chalky texture, earthy and pungent, salty. Wine pairing: pair with a floral Riesling
  • Stilton, cow, blue :: rich, moist and crumbly and sweet
  • Cashel Blue ::mellow, creamy, not as salty as others, good introductory blue. Wine pairing: pair with a port
Australia
  • Roaring Forties blue cheese :: creamy, texture, nutty, not too salty, strong
  • Persian feta, Yarra Valley :: marinated in olive oil and herbs, yes, it comes in a can, but it is surprisingly good!
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