Wine and cheese are ageless companions
Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher once wrote “Cheese has always been a food that both sophisticated and simple humans love.” How true, a bite of cheese when served in style is simply irresistible. Did you know? The word cheese is derived from the Latin word ‘caseus’ which means to ferment.
The origins of cheese pre-date recorded history, it is said that this ancient food was discovered accidentally by storing milk in a container resulting in the formation of curd and whey, which later formed cheese. Cheese could be stored for a longer duration of time and was easy to carry, so it served as a good travel food.
Rich in proteins and fat, there are hundreds of different types of cheese usually made from the milk of cows, buffalo, sheep and goat. The style, texture, colour and flavour of the cheese depends on the origin of the milk (animal) and by the type of milk – raw, skimmed or pasteurised.
With many varieties of cheese available in the market, buying a good cheese can be quite tricky. For all you turophiliacs (cheese lovers) out there, here are some golden tips by an expert Chef Paolo Nonino from Italy who shares with you all the secrets you need to know about your favourite food.
Chef Paolo Nonino is a foodie and the Managing Director of Via Milano and Colonial Bangalore, in India. He has 25 years of experience. Paolo started his career working for various popular restaurants in Italy and worked for more than five years in a 2 Star Michelin in Northern Italy.
Know your Cheese
- When you buy a cheese, know its end use first, for instance, if you are preparing Italian delicacies go for Italian cheese only.
- Right cheese will give you the right flavour. Cheese made out of buffalo milk is considered to be the best.
- Before buying, inspect the cheese properly, check for the manufacturing date and if there is leakage in the packet, do not buy it.
- Fresh cheese like Mozzarella, Bocconcini and Ricotta are always white in colour, if it is off white or yellowish, the cheese is not fresh.
- If retailers allow, it is always advised to taste your cheese before buy. If cheese like Mozzarella is bitter and acidic in taste, the cheese is spoilt. It should be tender, soft and a little sweet for taste buds.
- Cheese should be stored in air tight food container in a fridge at a temperature of 4-6 degree Celsius. And when you want to consume it, keep the cheese out for 10-15 minutes at room temperature.
- For fresh cheese like mozzarella, always preserve it with the mozzarella juice you get along with the packet and for hard cheese like Caciotta or Gouda, cover it with cling film or aluminium foil after use.
- Avoid freezing the cheese, as it will lose its flavour and texture too.
- Fresh cheeses are supposed to be eaten the very day of manufacturing but can be stored for a period of 5-10 days.
- Hard cheese can be stored for years. Older the hard cheese, the better it is.
- Hard cheese is a good travel food too, it’s rich in calcium, fat and protein. It does not get spoilt easily and can be stored for a longer period of years.
- To savour the flavour of cheese, eat it raw or with plain breads. Do not use flavoured breads or sweet breads as it will blend with the cheese flavour.
- English cheese is best eaten with crackers.
- Cheese is to be eaten as it is, pairing cheese or cooking it is just an artistic exploration.
- There are huge variety of cheeses available that are made with very tasty ingredients, for example Mexicana cheese which has the chilli zing to its taste and great with nachos.
- Pasta is best eaten with Italian cheese like Pecorino and Permizano, salads with fresh Mozzarella and Halloumi cheese with grilled vegetables.
- Cheese can be paired with fruits like pears and grapes or even seasonal fruits in Summer. Nuts like walnut and cashew too are used during winter.
- Wine and cheese is a golden combination. You can choose any wine but white wines are mostly preferred. The trick is, the more exotic the cheese, the more exceptional your wine needs to be. As M.F.K Fisher says “Wine and cheese are ageless companions, like aspirin and aches, or June and moon, or good people and noble ventures.”
Cheese is a perfect healthy food rich in calcium, protein and fat. For those concious of their waistline there are also some low-fat options available too. So go and indulge in some of the lovely textures on offer and give your diet a tasty addition.