Gouda news (pun intended!) for connoisseurs! The cheese culture in Dhaka is picking up with importers bringing in select varieties not widely available before. Brie, camembert, gorgonzola andgouda are among the 20 choices you can pick up at the cheese counter setup by Direct Fresh at Unimart, with plans for more locations opening up soon. Even better news, Direct Fresh, living up to its name, has started producing ricotta, cottage and mozzarella locally rather than just importing it.
But maybe the word ‘connoisseur’ is a stretch for most of us in describing our relationship with cheese. We are restrained to the cream spreads on our sandwiches for the most part, but there is so much more to this gourmet universe we are missing out on. And even though possibilities abound when using cheese as an ingredient, having it on its own like chocolate is an adventure to discovering your favorite variety.
Let’s get some basics out of the way - cheese should be enjoyed at room temperature for maximum flavor so make sure to take it out of the fridge in advance. A lot of cheeses come with a protective layering known as the rind. Depending on the type, some are actually edible while others need to be peeled or cut off. Soft cheeses like camembert or brie rinds are of the edible type. And just like coffee, make sure to smell the cheese and take in the scent to intensify the taste. Finally, the use of bread or crackers should be more as a palate cleanser and used frugally, lest it gets in the way of the actual cheese essence.
So let’s delve into some of the cheeses aspiring connoisseurs can finally get their hands on in Dhaka.
Bring on the brie
Named after the French region it originated from, and matured for approximately one month before it is sold, brie is an all-rounder. It can be sliced, spread, melted or even grilled. A soft gooey cheese made from cow’s milk, with a white edible rind. And brie loves company - have it with fruits and nuts for a party of textures and flavours in your mouth.
Go on, try the goat version
People that have intolerances to cows' milk might find goats’ milk cheeses easier to digest. Quite distinct in flavour in comparison to its bovine counterpart, it usually comes in a pristine white colour. It features heavily in the Mediterranean diet. And as a great bonus, it is lower in fat, calories and cholesterol while maintaining a dizzying creamy texture.
Gorge on some gorgonzola
Distinctive for its appearance, gorgonzola has a blue green marbling due to a fungi that is added during the production process. It has a crumbly and soft texture, and many of us have already tried it as a pizza topping. It is part of the blue cheese family and known for its salty, sharp taste.
Gouda try this one
Named after the Dutch town it originated in and pronounced ‘how-da’ by the locals, gouda is one of the most popular cheeses in terms of worldwide consumption. Sold in large wheels, the different colours on the rinds denote how long it has been ripened. Red denotessix months, while black is 12-18 months of aging. It has a sweet and fruity taste that increases with time.
Ricotta try this too
An Italian specialty made from the leftover process of making mozzarella and literally meaning ‘cooked again’, ricotta has a delicate flavour with a grainy texture. It has the versatility of being used in cookies to calzones.
Cheese of the cottage kind
Considered the healthy choice of the cheese world with low calories, mild flavours and packed with protein and essential nutrients. It’s the fresh cheese that’s preferred by health nuts.
What would pizzas be if not for this cheese? Another fresh cheese given to us by the Italians and originally made from buffalo milk. It melts evenly and consistently without burning, making it perfect for our pizzas. A tender buttery flavour makes it one of the most beloved cheeses amongst connoisseurs.
Setting up a cheese board
Probably the best way to enjoy a variety of cheeses is to setup a platter. Barely any preparation is needed, yet a group of friends can enjoy a lazy weekend afternoon catching up and sampling to their delight. In setting up the platter, make sure you have an assortment in terms of taste and texture with each cheese having its own dedicated knife. Make sure not to overcrowd the platter yet include an assortment of nuts, fruits, breads or crackers. Bon appetit!