New Age of Specialty Cheese

Summer 2018 – USA TODAY KNOWS ITS READERSHIP LOVES GREAT CHEESE, and so it celebrated National Cheese Day with a special report commemorating 50 great places to buy specialty cheese:

For National Cheese Day (June 4), we’re celebrating drool-worthy display cases, carts and caves full of the ultimate comfort food.

Whether you prefer a soft Brie, gooey Mozzarella or real Parmigiano Reggiano, there’s a cheesemonger to curate the best options at these cheese eateries across the country. Shop for your own custom cheese plate at the best destinations — from famous brands, like Beecher’s and Murray’s, to markets with hundreds of selections, such as Eataly or Le District. Or leave it to the pros and order from decadent cases at fine-dining restaurants or cheese board menus at approachable cheese bars.

Indeed, we have reached a kind of critical mass in America, where demand for a range of specialty cheese is so substantial and sustained that, all across the land, it is possible to buy a nice assortment of great cheese.

Of course, cheese is a food suitable for all kinds of eating occasions and USA Today had on April 12 celebrated another cheese-related occasion:

Today is a celebration of one of America’s most iconic comfort foods, it’s Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day. At its core, grilled cheese is an incredibly simple creation — take some cheese, put it between two slices of bread and heat it up. Of course, restaurants around the country are taking grilled cheese to another level, adding a wide variety of ingredients — from bacon to vegetables to locally themed toppings — and using cheese that strays far from the gold standard of American or Cheddar.

So great cheese can be bought straight or in an indulgent grilled cheese sandwich. In fact, today, there is a cheese, a condiment and a beverage to charm every palate. This issue of Cheese Connoisseur has a great piece on pairings – see Cheese Pairings for the Curious Palate on page 58.  The money quote is by Michael Cervin, noted author: “Never let anyone tell you that you’re making a mistake or that your choices aren’t viable. Fine wine may be the classic, but a great craft beer is today’s favorite. Honey, salts, chocolate and a world of fruit. You get to choose your cheese and what goes along with it. The only rules are the ones you make.”

It’s a new age of specialty cheese focused on the delicious, with old constraints falling to the wayside. What a great way to dive into a summer of cheesy delight! CC