Every cheese lover knows a fine cheese is perfectly capable of standing all on its own. But what happens when you combine your favourite variety with the flavours of intoxicating wine, zesty peppers, or rich, dark chocolate? Well, then you get something entirely exciting and unexpected.
So add some style and pizzazz to your cheeseboard or dress up your offerings for a special occasion. The creative flavours from artisan cheesemakers are sure to spark some conversation.
Here’s a little taste of the flavoured cheeses out there for the trying:
Herb and Spice
From Mexican Queso Blanco dotted with Habanero to Greek Feta marinated in herbs and oil, seasoned cheeses are enjoyed all over the world. For those who like it hot, there are exuberant cheeses spiced up with black and cayenne peppers, jalapeno and Serrano chiles, even horseradish and wasabi. How about an Italian Pecorino speckled with red pepper flakes for a tasty tingle?
On the savoury side, you’ll find cheeses studded or rolled in cumin, dill, garlic, fennel, rosemary, tarragon, thyme, and more. Creamy Havarti with caraway is classic, but for a slight change of pace, why not try a Dutch Beemster flavoured with mustard seeds or nettles (slightly bitter wild herbs)? More delicate palates might appreciate a sheep’s milk cheese with basil or a goat cheese laced with lavender and honey.
Cheeses can be smoked with all kinds of flavours: beech, cherry, and maple woods, pecan and walnut shells, even corn cobs. In Holland, Gouda is still smoked in ancient brick ovens over glowing hickory chip embers. In Spain, the noteworthy sheep’s milk Idiazabal is smoked over applewood.
The process of smoking adds a wonderful depth of flavour to our favourite cheeses, especially those that are typically mild. Smoked Mozzarella, Scamorza, and Cheddar are always popular, but what about trying a smoked Havarti, Wensleydale, or Chevre? There is even a blue cheese made in Oregon that’s smoked over hazelnut shells. These sweet, smokey, creamy cheeses are worth seeking out to pair with your next pint of beer.
A natural pairing for cheese, dried fruit offers sweet scrumptiousness and delight. When Quark is flavoured with lemon, or White Stilton spangled with apricot, cranberry, pear or apple, there’s all the more reason to eat cheese for breakfast, snack or dessert.
Look for more unusual varieties like rounds of goat cheese filled with dried figs or French Brillat-Savarin coated with raisins or chunks of papaya. The most unique might be Farmhouse Peppashire, a classic Lancashire cheese studded with sweet and spicy Peppadew fruits from South Africa.
Wine and Beer
What goes better with cheese than a lovely glass of wine? With wine-washed or soaked cheeses, the distinctive flavours and aromas of Cabernet, Prosecco, and Chablis can melt in your mouth. In Spain, Murcia al Vino (also known as Drunken Goat) is bathed in local red wine. In Italy, Ubriaco al Vino is aged in a blend of Cabernet and Merlot must.
As for beer-flavoured cheese, someone came up with the brilliant idea of using ale, stout, and cider in the cheesemaking process. King Ludwig Beer Cheese is a classic Bavarian cheese ripened in fine King Ludwig dark beer for a hearty flavour. In Wales, Red Dragon (or Y-Fenni) blends smooth, firm Cheddar with Welsh brown ale and mustard seeds. There’s also a Chimay Trappiste cheese made with the famous Belgian beer.
It may sound too good (or too odd) to be true, but chocolate and cheese make one delicious combination. The most widely available chocolate flavoured variety is the Chocolate Capri Log. This is a rich, tangy goat cheese blended with semi-sweet chocolate. It’s like having a bite of chocolate cheesecake!
Other chocolate flavoured cheeses to keep an eye out for include Chocolate Stout Cheddar and goat cheese truffles. The latter are tempting little cheese treats rolled in cocoa, cinnamon, and chipotle pepper. If you happen to be in the dairy state of Wisconsin, you’re likely to come across chocolate cheese fudge in flavours like chocolate mint and chocolate peanut butter. And in Asia (where cheese is not a traditional food), slices of plastic-wrapped chocolate cheese are quite the craze.
Finally, the latest flavours in cheese are all about pleasing the little ones, and why not? Cheese can be a healthy snack for growing children. Though there are not too many on the market yet, researchers and dairies are experimenting with all kinds of sweeteners, colours, and kid-friendly flavours.
This includes strawberry-flavoured string cheese and processed cheese in flavours like watermelon, green apple, banana, and bubblegum. So stay tuned there just may be a cotton candy flavoured cheese in your future.