If you’re one of those people who can name all of the cheeses you’ve ever had and can count them on one or two hands, then this post is about to change your world.
In short, cheese is made from the protein and fat in milk. Milk comes from cows, goats, sheep, buffalo, and other mammals. There are HUNDREDS of cheeses, not just American, Swiss, Cheddar, Provolone, and Pepper Jack. Their distinctions are due to the countries they’re made in, the type of animal the milk comes from, the animal’s diet, pasteurization, bacteria, and aging. There are soft cheeses, hard cheeses, and much in between.
One of my main priorities when I travel is to taste local cheeses. But don’t worry! If you cannot travel the world, you can just take a trip a local cheese shop or a supermarket with an international cheese section. I log my cheeses by country and include the animal the milk came from, the texture of the cheese, what the rind was like, and how much I enjoyed the taste. To date, I have tasted over 100 cheeses. My absolute favorite is from France and is called Epoisses. It is a wash rind, smear-ripened cheese with an orange outside and creamy inside. When it is just ripe enough, but not too ripe, the inside just flows out like goo in room temperature. Some would describe it as a way to clear out the entire house and/or make one pass out unconscious. And it’s true! When it’s too ripe, the taste is that of ammonia. The potency is why I love it. There’s an underlying meatiness and nuttiness that just cuts right through to my taste buds.
A great place to experience your first few out-of-the-box cheeses is The Cheese Cave in Red Bank. They are located right off of Monmouth Street. They have two cheese cases full of cheese and about five or six tables to hang out and enjoy what you pick out. They also have a menu with specials. The best part about this cool little place, however, is their $5 Fridays! On Fridays from 5-8 pm, they offer a small buffet containing four to five cheeses, jams, crackers/bread, and seasoning shakers for only $5! You can sample from this buffet as many times as you want. It is BYOB and they provide you with wine glasses. This place gets packed because it is just that awesome! If you purchase cheese and other accessories on this day, you get 10%-20% off of your products.
We’ve been there on many different occasions and have told a lot of friends about this night. Everyone loves it!