The Cheese Shop

Cleveland's Fromage Destination

Located in the Historic West Side Market in Cleveland, Ohio, The Cheese Shop offers an impressive imported & domestic cheese selection.  We maintain our unique niche by offering more than 175 traditional & rare cheeses from all over the world as well as a diverse line of specialty items.

We take pride in excellent customer service & exceptional quality –we encourage you to sample cheeses before purchasing to guarantee satisfaction.  We cut your cheese to order ensuring freshness & allowing you to determine the size to fit your needs.

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Cheese & Wine Pairings

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On their own, cheese & wine each encompass a vast world of connoisseurs, societies & government-dictated standards as well as historical significance & flavor profiles that rely on diverse features & delicate subtleties.  Bring these two realms together & it’s easy to feel overwhelmed trying to understand what guidelines to follow to make sure you “do it right.”

 The first thing to do is: Take a deep breath & relax.  If you’re new to cheese or wine or both there are a few simple generalities to get you by.  As you learn & taste, you can become more specific & adventurous in your pairings.  It is important to know that taste can vary from person to person, so what is intensely salty & dry to someone can be pleasantly balanced to another.

 That doesn’t make it a free-for-all-there are certain taste guidelines that enhance or detract from the flavors of the wine & cheese.  This introduction gives you the foundations of taste to create a stress-free cheese & wine pairing.  When choosing a cheese to go with a wine or vice versa, start with these 6 elements:

 

  1. Texture: Compare & contrast the textures of the wine or cheese you wish to pair in terms of creaminess, body, dryness & crispness.
  2. Intensity: Young or aged cheeses pair well with young or aged wines, respectively.  
  3. Acidity: This is perhaps the most important, & tricky, component with pairings as both cheese & wine have levels of acidity that need to be taken into consideration. 
  4. Sweetness: Cheeses with sweet overtones, like an aged Gouda or fruited Stilton, need to be balanced with off-dry dessert wines. 
  5. Mold: Blue cheese molds negate the fruitiness of any wine but work wonderfully with ports, rich dessert wines & sparkling wines.
  6. Region: When in doubt, pair cheese & wine from the same region (though there are of course exceptions to this fall back plan.)

Building a Cheese Plate

Back to Cheese 201

A cheese plate can serve as a quick & satisfying meal or snack, a bountiful Hors d'œuvre, a savory introduction to a meal, or a tasteful after-dinner course.  Depending on its purpose, different cheese pairings accent various needs.  For example, a cheese board appetizer before dinner should maintain mild & light flavors—an introduction to the tastes to follow—while after-dinner cheeses can include notes of caramel, sweet, rich & buttery.      

  What we present in these cheese pairings are ideas & not rules.  However, like pairing cheese with wine, certain flavors react in a way that enhance or detract from each other.  And while any cheese you like is perfect for any kind of cheese board, developing a little bit of knowledge & understanding can elevate the flavor & enjoyment of all cheese!

Serving

 Three to five cheeses work well and won't overwhelm your palate or guests. Let cheese stand unwrapped at room temperature 30-45 minutes before serving. Provide each cheese with its own serving utensil. Allow a large enough serving plate so guests can comfortably maneuver all the cheeses.  

Depending on the occasion, there are a variety of options for cheese presentation:

1.       On a serving plate as whole wedges

2.     On a serving plate with each wedge started (slice or chunk pieces of each wedge)

3.      All cheeses cubed, chunked, sliced or shaved (depending on the cheese)

4.      Each guest presented their own plate with a 1 to 2 oz. slice of each cheese 

It’s easy to underestimate the amount of time it takes to prepare any cheese plate.  The great thing about building a cheese board is that it can be done in advance, loosely covered & refrigerated.  Just be sure to allow time for the cheeses to warm up before presenting.   

Cheese Pairings

Classic cheese tastings generally progress clockwise from mild to strong, light to heavy, etc…. This encourages the opportunity to compare & contrast during the initial sampling & prevents strong cheeses overwhelming the palate before a more delicate selection can be tasted.  From there, cheeses are enjoyed freely in any order.  The cheese pairing ideas offered here are listed in a suggested progression. 

Blue, Brie & Cheddar

The most classic of pairings, the flavors & textures these cheeses encompass flatter & enhance one another.  The blue adds visual interest &, through a range of piquancy, extols the flavor boundaries of cheese.  The cheddar’s tang balances the strength & sharpness of the blue & offers textural variation.  Rounding out the board with the brie’s creamy texture complements the blue & contrasts the cheddar’s crumbliness while mellowing the tang of both. 

Cheese Board #1: Appetizer

Camembert Supreme, France, cow’s milk: A smooth & subtly complex bloomy-rind cheese, it serves as a balancer between the two sharper flavors. 

Old Quebec 4 Year Cheddar, Canada, cow’s milk: A compatible cheddar, nicely sharp yet retaining a lovely cheddar flavor, it makes a great choice for any cheese board.  

Point Reyes Original Blue, California, raw cow’s milk: This cheese presents a crumbly & firm texture with a creamy mouth-feel that delivers a rich blue flavor.  

Cheese Board #2: Snack or Meal 

Mirabo Brie with Walnuts, Germany, cow’s milk: A mediator by bringing out the earthy notes of the blue & the cloth-bound cheddar.

Jasper Hill Farms, Vermont, raw cow’s milk: The cloth-bound rind evokes a natural earthiness in both flavor & appearance while its crumbliness & mildly sharp flavor also make it a perfect fit. 

Roquefort, France, raw sheep’s milk: A blue that highlights this earth-bound cheese board with robust flavors influenced by its aging in the famous caves of Combalou.

Cow, Goat & Sheep

This combination can go anywhere & really gives you the chance to explore different flavors.  You can choose cheeses from the same country or from different regions of the world.  But because flavors can vary so widely, don’t hesitate to taste a sample before choosing!

Cheese Board #3: Appetizer 

Pecorino Toscano, Italy, sheep’s milk: Young & mild with amazing buttery & complex flavors that open up at room temperature.  

Bucheron, Wisconsin, goat’s milk: The exquisite dual texture (creamy near the rind & crumbly towards the center) & log-shape make it a perfect cheese to present. 

Cantalet, France, cow’s milk: A firm texture, rustic natural rind & slightly sharp flavor provide just the right amount of sapor to pair with the goat without overpowering the milder sheep.

Cheese Board #4: Snack or Meal

Urgelia, Spain, cow’s milk: Semi-firm, mildly assertive with a paste punctuated with tiny eye-holes, this pick balances the assertive goat & sheep cheeses.

Garrotxa, Spain, goat’s milk: A firm cheese enveloped in an eye-catching natural rind, Garroxta brings looks, texture & flavor (tangy with a concentrated goatyness) to this board.

MitiBleu, Spain, sheep’s milk: A texture that’s filled with granular glory & satiny creaminess coupled with a piquant flavor, this cheese speaks loudly on any cheese board.

Alternative Cheese Boards

Cheese Board #5: Snack or Meal  

-A selection of washed-rind cheeses

Chimay, Belgium, cow’s milk: Thick, creamy texture with a complementing granular rind that imparts a pleasant yet biting flavor.

Taleggio, Italy, cow’s milk: Full-flavored, Italian-style brie with a meaty, farmyard-like flavor.

Munster, France, cow’s milk: Luxuriously supple texturally & very pronounced aroma with a milder flavor.

Cheese Board #6: After Dinner 

-A selection of aged cheeses

Piave Vecchio, Italy, cow’s milk, aged 14 months: A gem of the Italian aged cheeses, milder than Parmigiano Reggiano with a slightly creamier texture.

Beemster Classic, Holland, cow’s milk, aged 24 months: Filled with an array of flavors ranging from slightly sweet & nutty to rich with hints butterscotch.

Finally, choose cheeses that offer visual & textural interest.  Cahill Porter, Five Counties cheddar & DaVinci provide nice flavor while adding interest to your cheese plate.  If you think you have too much flavor going on, try Primo Sale, Toma Piemontese, or Rustico to tame your plate.  Accompany cheeses with bread, crackers, honey, fruit pastes, dried or fresh fruit, nuts or meats.  And always, freely ask your cheesemonger at The Cheese Shop questions regarding serving suggestions, presentation & pairings!

 

 

How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?
— Charles de Gaulle

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