The Cheese Shop’s Top Ten Cheeses are determined by volume sold, which means they have great customer satisfaction, heavy repeat business, and they have stood the test of time. Although there is a vast selection sold of excellent popular small cheeses, such as Camembert, Epoisses, La Tur, Pico, Kunik, to name a few, the top ten is just share poundage.
They are not in any order so don’t assume that cheese number “one” is better than cheese number “ten”.
This is a great Triple crème cheese from Germany. Not to be confused with the regular Cambozola, which has the typical white snowy outer rind, this cheese has a black mold surrounding it. This gives the appearance that its good days are behind it. Not so, this is by far the better of the two versions. It’s one of the milder of the blues and very soft and creamy.
The cheese is a real crowd pleaser. Try acacia honey for a wonderful dessert.
- Kanaal (Cow’s milk) From Holland
Kanaal is made from pasteurized milk that comes from free-range, grass-fed cows. They do not use GMO ingredients in production. Kanaal has a crunchy, butterscotch, salty-sweet, candy-like flavor. This is due to the presence of Tyrosine, an amino acid that results from aging in certain cheeses.
Even though it tastes both salty and sweet, Kanaal contains neither added salt nor sugar to cause this sensation. There are many cheeses that have salt crystals on the outside which is due to the cheese being brined when made. This cheese achieves a great crystalized flavor, despite its ripened age of only ten months.
Kanaal is technically not a Gouda, but a similar cheese style called Proosdij, which employs mixed-strain starter cultures to give the cheese characteristics of both a Gouda and a Parmigiano. Its butterfat content falls around 45%, versus Gouda’s butterfat content at 48%. The wheel weighs around eighteen to twenty pounds and comes with a heavy outer wax rind which enables it to have a long shelf life. If properly cared for, Kanaal will last many weeks at home.
- Fromage D’Affinois (Cow’s milk) from France
Fromage D’Affinois has made The Cheese Shop Top Ten list every year so far, and it will likely continue to. This is not only one of my all-time favorite soft-ripening cheeses, but a consistent top choice for most of my customers as well. Unlike most imported, shelf-stabilized Bries and Camemberts found in the U.S. today, D’Affinois remains exceptionally rich and creamy.
I especially love that this cheese continues to ripen in the store after arrival which allows me to offer it for purchase at its peak. D’Affinois also maintains a fairly steady consistency, delivers a great flavor and is almost always readily available.
- Ewephoria (Sheep’s milk), from Holland
Ewephoria makes my list again, and not just because I love the clever pun in the name. (I always enjoy customer reactions when asked if they’ve had Ewephoria lately).
This cheese is still a relative newcomer to the world of cheese; it has been on the market for ten years. Ewephoria ages for almost a year, which is considered quite a long time for a cheese this small.
With similar butterscotch whiskey notes, the taste reminds me of extra-aged cow’s milk Goudas such as Beemster XO. There is no gamey sheep’s milk taste in this cheese.
Ewephoria is well recommended when you are looking for something sharp, but different. It pairs well with hoppy beers, but I prefer it with Bourbon or a single malt Scotch. Try it on a burger or in Mac n’ Cheese.
- Tres Leches (Cow, Goat and Sheep milk), from Spain
Tres Leches is full of flavor and has become one of our top ten sellers, not to mention one of my all-time top ten favorites. This mild, semi-soft Spanish cheese is made from all three milks. In fact, the popularity of Tres Leches has risen so much that sales of Manchego, another more widely-known Spanish cheese, have decreased dramatically in our shop.
Tres Leches comes in a small eight-pound wheel. An olive oil rub along the exterior of the rind not only lends itself to the color of the rind, but also contributes to its great flavor.
- Piave Vecchio (Cow’s Milk) from Italy
This Parmigiano Reggiano-style cheese will most likely always make The Cheese Shop top ten. With a fairly sharp and full flavor, Piave Vecchio goes well with most foods and salads, making it not only an ideal eating cheese but also a great choice for cooking. Use in place of Reggiano or Grana Padano in any dish.
Piave comes in a small wheel, about sixteen pounds, with a hard natural rind similar to Reggiano. This cheese keeps very well; just be sure to wrap it properly. For a twist, try it with Acacia honey from Italy or aged balsamic vinegar for a delicious dessert.
- Fresh Mozzarella (Buffalo’s milk or Cow’s milk), Originally from Italy
Fresh Mozzarella is universally loved. Add a vine-ripened tomato, fresh basil and some good olive oil – and my night is complete. And where would pizza be without it?
Mozzarella was originally made from buffalo milk. In Italy, it still is. This version has a little more tang to it than the cow’s milk version.
- Leerdammer (Cow’s milk) from Holland
Similar to Jarlsberg, this nutty, mild Swiss-style cheese is so all-purpose, it has become a staple in my home. Not only is it great for appetizers, sandwiches and all kinds of cooking, it makes a nice, mild fondue as well.
Leerdammer is made in a 20-pound wax-rind wheel. It has a moderate price compared to most imported Swiss cheeses, which also adds to its appeal.
- Bellavitano (Cow’s milk) from The United States
This cheese tastes like a combination of Cheddar and Parmesan aged in Merlot wine. It is made in Wisconsin and was introduced in 1999. It has won many awards both National and Domestic.
The cheese has replaced a similar soaked in wine cheese called Drunken Goat to the point that we seldom carry the goat offering.
Although the cheese is sharp the wine gives it a slightly sweet finish. It does not have a rind, only a red outer edible covering which adds beautiful color to a cheese tray. The volume sold of this cheese warrants it being in the top ten.
- Ford Farm Coastal Cheddar (Cow’s milk) from England
This white cheddar’s greatness comes from its creamy smooth finish, with no bitterness or bite. Sadly, many domestic cheddars today are mass-produced in large 1000-pound stainless steel forms and aged for only a year. The old method of aging took three years. The difference is discernable, and customers really appreciate the quality of this cheddar. Additionally, Ford Farm Cheddar costs about half the price of domestic varieties. I always say, “try before you buy” and this especially holds true for cheddars.
There you have it – The Cheese Shops Top Ten list of cheeses for 2019.