This post needs no explanation, rationalization, or introduction. Here’s me, dropping my knowledge:
- Pecorino Tartufo Riserva. I have this every year at my aunt’s house for Christmas Eve, and it always blows my mind. Even my cousin’s 5 year old daughter loved this cheese, and she’s a picky eater. It is salty, nutty, firm, salty, truffley, and slightly crumbly. They are generous with the truffle in this cheese, and the flavor is astounding. Definitely a special occasion cheese to be savored and worth unbuttoning your top button for. I like it plain – no crackers, no other flavors to compete with. This one shines on its own. My aunt waits religiously in line at Murray’s in New York for it (P.S. new favorite website).
- Humboldt Fog (Cypress Grove). A somewhat recent discovery of mine but it’s going to stand the test of time. This is a funkier cheese but still very accessible (gee, I really sound like I know what I’m talking about, don’t I? Hah! P.S., I don’t.). This cheese is so, so creamy and the vegetable ash in the middle gives it such a unique flavor. I also really love the rind on this cheese. You’ll find this on cheese plates at restaurants for a reason. This is also probably the only cheese on the list that I can only have a few bites of before I get so overwhelmed with the deliciousness that I need to switch to something else for a while or the awesomeness gets dulled. Maybe that doesn’t make sense. But basically it’s a unique winner.
- Unexpected Cheddar (Trader Joe’s). A beautiful, beautiful blend of cheddar and parmesan – the best of both worlds. Fantastically crumbly, nutty, and super salty. Party favorite. Good alone, melted into quesadillas, and crumbled into a salad. Also plays nice with fruit such as apples and grapes. Unexpected is a great name for it because while it looks humble and average, it definitely isn’t.
- Red Hawk (Cowgirl Creamery). This cheese makes my list because not only is it delicious, but it reminds me of San Francisco. JJ and I picked up this cheese somewhat randomly for our sourdough picnic and we couldn’t believe our find. It’s a cheese with enough interest to keep a cheese lover entertained while not being so funky that it turns people off. It’s a soft cheese, so crackers are the way to go for me. Some dried fruit is also nice with it (at our picnic, we enjoyed it with some dried apricots).
- Hand Dipped Ricotta (Lioni Latticini). I buy this cheese at Whole Foods in what I think of as the deli section – where they keep the prepackaged cheese, olives, fresh pasta sauces, etc. I’ve never seen it sold anywhere else, but it is hands-down the best ricotta I’ve ever had. I’m not sure I could do a description of it justice. Let’s just say when I buy it, I keep it simple with some salt and a big hunk of pretzel bread. It’s too delicious of a cheese to mix into pasta or bake with.
There you have it! The big five. Did I miss any? 🙂