Yes, we are more aware of our carbon footprints, and the environmental cost of importing/exporting goods, but we have become used to having so many choices and are still buying things we probably shouldn’t.
In that vein: have you tried any of these imported cheeses? We have sampled a few slightly different imported cheeses for your delectation and debate.
Starting with the closest ‘foreign’ producer of cheeses imported to the UK, the following is a summary of the ones we’ve tried.
We loved the creamy woody flavour of this one! Banon has a soft texture and a gentle, but earthy and slightly nutty, aroma.
Banon is named after its village of origin. First produced in 1270 it is made from unprocessed cow’s milk and moulded by hand before the first 5-day maturing process begins. Following this pre-maturing stage, Banon was traditionally wrapped in dried chestnut leaves to continue maturing for another 14 days.
Shaped into conical parcels, this cheese from the village of Avesnes near the Belgian border has the worrying nickname of ‘The Devil’s Suppository’. If you don’t mind that, and enjoy cheese with a pungent smell and strong spicy taste, you’ll love it!
Made from the damaged whey of curd that is then mashed with herbs and spices, washed weekly with beer and matured for 2-4 months, Boulette d’Avesnes is a distinctive one for the cheeseboard.
Caciocavallo is a semi-hard cheese made with either ewes or cows milk. Part of the process used in making this cheese involves spinning the crafted cheese strings into a pear-shape (Montonino) that is then cured in brine (or salt) for a few days. Next, string is tied around the ‘neck’ to form a distinct and separate ball above the main body of the cheese. It is then hung over poles to age.
Other countries produce their own versions of this semi-soft cow’s cheese, but Italian Fontina is identifiable by its stamp. Fontina has a rind that occurs naturally due to the ageing process and looks yellowish or orange-brown in colour.
The texture depends on how old the cheese is: younger, slightly springy cheese melts well and can be used in fondues, or other cooked cheese dishes; more mature, firmer cheese grates well and is delicious with pasta.
What to do with a drunken goat could be a pub quiz type question. Here, though, it refers to a cheese made from goat’s milk on Spain’s Mediterranean coast. The Drunken Goat has a slight and purple rind, developed as a result of being cured in red wine. Inoffensive in every way and an easy nibbler!
Made with milk from cows or goats – or a combination of the two – this blue cheese heralds from the Picos de Europa mountain range. Traditionally matured in limestone caves for at least 2 months, this cheese has a strong tangy flavour that makes it an ideal choice for the cheeseboard. It is also wonderful in recipes that call for blue cheese.
A few more continental cheeses we tried and enjoyed include:
- Delft Blue from Holland
- Bergkase from Austria
- Trappistenkase from Germany
- Tete de Moine from Switzerland
- Passendale from Belgium
If you want to buy British cheddar, be aware! Labelling loopholes allow the import of thousands of tons of cheddar cheese that is sold under misleading packaging.