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Gorgonzola: not a Jim Henson Muppet character


Gifted Gourmet
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article from the CS Monitor

In her small but well-equipped kitchen, as she was preparing the pasta sauce, I asked Teresa if she agreed with the popular notion that France has the best cheeses. The other three Italians sitting nearby immediately and vigorously dissented, but the more food-democratic Teresa agreed that France has excellent cheeses. Italy's cheeses are just as good, however, she said, and more varied.

And her ranking of the top three cheeses in the world? The answer was instantaneous: Parmigiano-Reggiano, grana padano, and Gorgonzola.

All Italian, of course.

Based upon your knowledge of cheeses, which country do you believe makes the best cheeses, France or Italy? :rolleyes:

Why did you make this choice? Any examples? :wink:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Mein Gott! Such a decision you force us to make! :raz:

Er. France, but only because they make Morbier and Reblochon, my first two cheesy loves.

Though Taleggio is a recent fave....

Dear gawd. It's just cheese, and I feel like I'm suddenly in the middle of Sophie's Choice. :sad:

A jumped-up pantry boy who never knew his place.

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I would submit that the UK has some extremely fine cheeses, especially hard and blue cheeses such as the real Cheddar, Carphilly, Gloucester, Red Leicster, Stinking Bishop, and of course Stilton.

But of course, real parm reg is the King of Cheeses.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Well, my favourite cheeses are goat cheeses, when I was in Paris, i ate cheese daily, and was in heaven!!!

So I would have to say France, with Italy RIGHT behind...God knows I love a good pecorino, or boooofalo mozerella!

Ooooo - I forgot one of my alltimes faves, Morbier, thanks for reminding me!!! GOD I LOVE THAT!

Edited by sadistick (log)
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I have to agree with you who say the choice is a very difficult one to make primarily because both countries have such a collection of their own gifts in making cheeses ... I prefer the French cheeses because I am partial to brie and Reblochon myself ...

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Theres this cheese place near my office, in Toronto, called Global Cheese (I believe), Im telling you, I can go in there, talk to the guy about cheeses (he knows me now) and get so many samples i dont even have to buy lunch!!! One of the largest selections I have ever seen, and GREAT prices!!! I got a 1/4lb of Morbier the other day for like 8$...insane!

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Scientists have proven that -- despite Taleggio -- Italy comes up far short in the critical "stinky" category.  Pont L'Eveque, Epoisse, a runny old Camembert, Livarot...

France on points.

Gawd bless science. I knew it was good for more than just keeping us all stuck to the Earth. Or whatever.

Should Belgium get an honorable mention in this thread for Chimay's cheeses? They really are something special, imo.

Edit: My space bar? On my keyboard? Sometimes?

The bastard sticks.

Edited by fimbul (log)

A jumped-up pantry boy who never knew his place.

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France! Roquefort tops my lengthy list. Actually I could eat unpateurized butter from Normandy like cheese too.

The stinky cheeses... There are people who prefer the rind to the interior even on the really morbid looking stuff. Some cheese mongers actually save the rinds for them.

Edited by chefzadi (log)

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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The father of Parmigiano-Reggiano is Sbrinz from Unterwalden. And France has 700 different cheese varieties because they still try to imitate real Gruyère.

But I have to admit, both France and Italy are producing some decent cheese.

Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

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Theres this cheese place near my office, in Toronto, called Global Cheese (I believe), Im telling you, I can go in there, talk to the guy about cheeses (he knows me now) and get so many samples i dont even have to buy lunch!!!  One of the largest selections I have ever seen, and GREAT prices!!!  I got a 1/4lb of Morbier the other day for like 8$...insane!

$32 a lb is a good price? I guess y'all don't have Trader Joe's in Canada, but they have excellent quality Morbier for under $10 a lb usually.

My favorite cheese flat out is Manchego, but seeing as it is the only spanish cheese I am familiar with, I can't really claim spain is top of the heap.

Parm-Reg is good, as is gorgonzola, and ricotta, and any other Italian cheese I have tried. I am still playing around with french cheeses, but I am starting to appreciate chevre more, as well as some of the smellier runnier options.

However, for what really gets me going (besides that Manchego) I'm going to have to go with the offerings from the UK. Excellent cheddards, excellent blues, so full of flavor without even approaching becoming offensive.

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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My favorite cheese flat out is Manchego, but seeing as it is the only spanish cheese I am familiar with, I can't really claim spain is top of the heap.

Well, I'm not going to belittle French or Italian cheeses in any regard. They are delicious and have unrivaled variety. But because someone must do it, I am willing to hold the banner up for Spain. Cabrales, Garrotxa, Manchego, Torta del Casar (for you runny, stinky cheese fans!) and many more. Add them to a plate of Marcona almonds (yes, the salty Spanish ones), olives from Sevilla, a touch of membrillo and the finest, aged, cured pigs' legs in the world.

Now who wants some Rioja????

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Both an extremely hard and an extremely superficial question to ask IMO. Hard because I simply have to choose both :smile: .

Superficial, since Italian and Franch cheeses are quite different. They might have a few contact points, for example Tomme and Tuma in Savoie and Piemonte respectively, but you're actually looking at quite different cheese making traditions. France has fantastic goat cheeses, Italy has an incredible variety of pecorini. France has a range of white mold rind cheeses which is unbeatable. Italy has the best choice of cheeses made with the pasta filata method, i.e. the method used to produce mozzarella and provolone. The numbers of cheeses is not that different between the two nations, and there's quite a few stinky cheeses in Italy too, if only the aforementioned scientist had known what to choose. Try a little ricotta forte or pecorino di fossa and tell me they do not stink :biggrin: .

Yet, I believe France is definitely on top when it comes to average quality. In contrast to France, we only have a few serious affineurs, a serious lack. We're also trying real hard to stop the best producers from making even better cheeses, Parmigiano is a great example of this. Simply suicide. On the other hand the French are not doing anything less with Roquefort.

What I found slightly disappointing in the article is the cheeses picked as "the best". Italy is still discovering its cheese treasures, and many of Italy's best cheeses are almost unknown at home or abroad. The cheeses mentioned in the article are good but far from the best. Parmigiano and Grana are very good, but to be excellent they have to be made with milk from selected cow races (Vacche rosse) pasturing on the hilly slopes leading to the Appenines rather than on the plains. And aged longer than usual. Gorgonzola can taste like petrol, but it can become the best blue cheese when made with the old traditional method, sadly disappearing.

I would have picked others: a 10 years old Bitto from Valtellina, Caciocavallo Podolico, the king of provolone/caciocavallo cheeses, burrata, Robiola di Roccaverano... I could go on!

Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.
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The father of Parmigiano-Reggiano is Sbrinz from Unterwalden. And France has 700 different cheese varieties because they still try to imitate real Gruyère.

But I have to admit, both France and Italy are producing some decent cheese.

You have a fantastic sense of humour! :laugh: If you aren't joking my apologies in advance. :unsure:

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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This is a tough one, not because one has to choose between France and Italy but because making such a choice would also exclude all the other wonderful cheese producing countries. I love cheese, and since I grew up in France, it would be easy for me to be biased and a snob. As a true cheese lover, I cannot be.

I have developed a particular affection over the years for some French favorites of mine: St marcellin, Vacherin, Chaource, Rocamandour, Epoisses, Crottins de Chavignol and the list goes on...

But I equally love a good Caciovallo or Pecorino from Italy, a good Garrotxa from Spain, Stilton from the UK, Emmental from Switzerland, Kashkaval from Bulgaria, and so on...

Cheese in the US is on the rise also!! Some cheese makers that come to mind (east and west coast): Sally Jackson, Sprout creek farm, Andante cheeses, and that guy in Long Island who only makes camemberts with a handfull of cows and only sells down the road from his farm. No joke, the best camembert i've had so far.

No pick for me.

"A chicken is just an egg's way of making another egg." Samuel Butler
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there is no question as to my answer on whats my fav cheese...there is no way i could give an answer as there r many that i like so i wont make that choice

however which country...france..italy or the uk

no contest

ALL OF THEM as each one has its own unique cheeses....

a recipe is merely a suggestion

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Both an extremely hard and an extremely superficial question to ask IMO. Hard because I simply have to choose both  :smile: .

Superficial, since Italian and Franch cheeses are quite different. They might have a few contact points, for example Tomme and Tuma in Savoie and Piemonte respectively, but you're actually looking at quite different cheese making traditions. France has fantastic goat cheeses, Italy has an incredible variety of pecorini. France has a range of white mold rind cheeses which is unbeatable. Italy has the best choice of cheeses made with the pasta filata method, i.e. the method used to produce mozzarella and provolone. The numbers of cheeses is not that different between the two nations, and there's quite a few stinky cheeses in Italy too, if only the aforementioned scientist had known what to choose. Try a little ricotta forte or pecorino di fossa and tell me they do not stink  :biggrin: .

Yet, I believe France is definitely on top when it comes to average quality. In contrast to France, we only have a few serious affineurs, a serious lack. We're also trying real hard to stop the best producers from making even better cheeses, Parmigiano is a great example of this. Simply suicide. On the other hand the French are not doing anything less with Roquefort.

What I found slightly disappointing in the article is the cheeses picked as "the best". Italy is still discovering its cheese treasures, and many of Italy's best cheeses are almost unknown at home or abroad.  The cheeses mentioned in the article are good but far from the best. Parmigiano and Grana are very good, but to be excellent they have to be made with milk from selected cow races (Vacche rosse) pasturing on the hilly slopes leading to the Appenines rather than on the plains. And aged longer than usual. Gorgonzola can taste like petrol, but it can become the best blue cheese when made with the old traditional method, sadly disappearing.

I would have picked others: a 10 years old Bitto from Valtellina, Caciocavallo Podolico, the king of provolone/caciocavallo cheeses, burrata, Robiola di Roccaverano... I could go on!

I'd have to say that the Italians make the best Italian cheese, and the French make the best French cheeses, and the Danes make the best imitations of other country's cheeses.

But then I have this thing about "the best" and lists of the "top ten" or "ten best". If people said the ten cheeses I like best or my favorite five breads, or the ten restaurants I like best, I could respect their lists, and maybe even try some of the food items they liked. But I dislike these arbitrary list of the 'Best" things.

Supposing they surveyed the entire population of the planet , to determin the absolute favorite vegetable dish, and it was determined that absolutely positively everybody LOVED succcotash, I'd be sitting there reading the report and muttering "They sure as hell didn't ask me, because I hate lima beans".

I think it would be more productive and sensible to compare the differences between French Cheese, and Italian Cheese and say what it is you like about one or the other

as opposed to deciding which one is better than the other.

I'll end my rant, by saying that the Arey parents had two boys, and I was the second. We went to the same grammar school, high school, and college and by the time I graduated from college, I felt like (to continue the food analogy, a ratatouille

that was always being asked why it wasn't succotash.

"A fool", he said, "would have swallowed it". Samuel Johnson

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I take these things with a grain of salt. Just fun stuff. It's pointless to argue about tastes or manners for that matter.

I gave a short answer, France. I could have given a lenghthier answer but it would have involved repetitive information from some of my previous posts.

I was born in Lyon, raised in the Beaujolais with some of the best.... I'm a French Chef.... blah, blah, blah...

Not surprisingly I prefer French cheeses generally. Now discussions like this get silly or uninteresting to me when they get too heavy or deliberately disparaging of other culinary traditions.

Just my tuppence.

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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I must chime in to say, this is quite silly. Don't you think? You could go in circles for years over something like this. The French, Italians, Irish, Brits, Dutch, Danes, Americans, Canadians, Mexicans, Swiss and many others all make some fabulous cheeses. Comparing Stilton to Gorgonzola to Roquefort to Shropshire Blue...just doesn't make sense. They are all great cheeses for many different reasons.

Why can't we all just get along?

Tobin

It is all about respect; for the ingredient, for the process, for each other, for the profession.

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The father of Parmigiano-Reggiano is Sbrinz from Unterwalden. And France has 700 different cheese varieties because they still try to imitate real Gruyère.

But I have to admit, both France and Italy are producing some decent cheese.

I was wondering if you were going to comment Boris! I remember you making the same comment about Gruyere when you blogged.

As much as I like Italian cheeses, apart from Parmigiano-Reggiano, all my faves are French, English (recent Neil's Yard convert) or locally made artisan cheeses.

A.

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...and the Danes make the best imitations of other country's cheeses.

that one hurt, arey! most of all, 'cause it's true.

there are, though, quite a few decent original danish cheeses, like den gamle havn or and aged haribo, which typically taste best when eaten on rye bread (with butter, onion rings, rum etc. it's SO good!). may be one reason they're not that well known outside the rye bread kingdom.

anyway, one would immediately answer that french cheese is best, partly because they're such fine accompaniment to good bread, partly because they're better known.

personally i know of no better cheese than a brie de meaux au lait cru. but i wouldn't like to have to live without parmigiano reggiano...

christianh@geol.ku.dk. just in case.

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I  must chime in to say, this is quite silly. Don't you think? 

<SNIP>

Why can't we all just get along?

'Cuz it would make for really short threads. :biggrin:

A.

My favorite threads here are when people "don't get along" and argue their points to build a case for their beliefs. It can be informative and entertaining. What's wrong with a little heat? As long as it doesn't devolve into personal attack, I'm all for it. My all-time favorite eGullet thread is Does Italy lack culinary relevance?

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I  must chime in to say, this is quite silly. Don't you think? 

<SNIP>

Why can't we all just get along?

'Cuz it would make for really short threads. :biggrin:

A.

My favorite threads here are when people "don't get along" and argue their points to build a case for their beliefs. It can be informative and entertaining. What's wrong with a little heat? As long as it doesn't devolve into personal attack, I'm all for it. My all-time favorite eGullet thread is Does Italy lack culinary relevance?

I love a good argument that furthers the dialogue. It's the personal attacks however veiled they maybe that is a pet peeve of mine. I'm adjusting though. :laugh:

Just to add another country into the mix, after French bleu Stilton comes very close for me. Also when I was in the Lombard region of Italy years ago, I couldn't get enough of the pizzas and pastas, and of course they had Italian cheese. The Italian places in Paris don't even come close.

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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