If you're a cheese-lover, you probably already know about your basic and standard cheeses: Mozzarella, Provolone, Burrata, Brie, and so on. So, if you're looking to get a little adventurous, there are tons of unique cheeses all cheese-lovers should try ASAP that can open you up to a whole new world of cheesy goodness. The world of cheese is vast, so don't be surprised if you haven't heard of some of these options. And, after I tell you about them, you may wish I hadn't.
While I am generally not a fan of dairy (that's another story), cheese is the one thing I have not been able to quit. The reason for that may actually be more scientific than you think: "Cheese contains great amounts of casomorphins,” founder and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Dr. Neal Barnard, told New Zealand newspaper the Southlands Sun.
“These protein fragments, derived from the digestion of the milk protein, casein has the distinguishing characteristic of giving one an opioid effect. Opioids are among the world’s oldest known drugs. Dependence develops with ongoing intake, leading to withdrawal syndromes with abrupt discontinuation.”
If you're hooked, and you want to explore the ever-evolving world of cheese, try these unique cheeses ASAP.
According to Cheese.com, "Limburger is a semi-soft, washed rind cheese that originated in the historical Duchy of Limburg, now divided among three countries; Germany, Belgium, and Netherlands. The cheese is popularly known for its stinky aroma which has been compared to foot odor."
If the smell doesn't put you off, Cheese.com suggests enjoying Limburger between two slices of rye bread with onion, then washing it down with a cold beer. You might want to do this alone since I can only imagine what the combination of beer, foot odor, and onions would do to your breath.
2. Casu Marzu
If you have an aversion to live maggots, you might want to avoid Casu Marzu. CNN reported that this Italian cheese is only enjoyed by a select population because Casu Marzu is served with live maggots.
According to CNN, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay called Casu Marzu "the most dangerous cheese in the world." The cheese is made when pecorino cheese is left it to rot and attract flies. Once the flies lay their eggs, and they hatch into maggots, the cheese becomes Casu Marzu. It is said to have an aftertaste that lasts for hours, perhaps because the English translation for Casu Marzu is "rotten/putrid cheese."
If this hasn't put you off, you'll have to travel to Sardinia, Italy, because this delicacy can't be imported due to the whole live maggots thing.
3. Amish Frolic
OK, this one I would actually try. Amish Frolic is a seasonal cheese made by Bobolink Dairy in collaboration with three Amish farmers who use raw milk from grass-fed herds, according to Cheese.com.
"The texture is hard and with its rich, beefy flavor it is not for the lighthearted," Cheese.com noted. "It has a grassy, complex yet subtle flavor, which goes well with red wines, hearty ales, cider, and crusty breads. Frolic grates well, and is excellent in salads, pesto, or on its own."
Because the cows are grass fed, and milked seasonally, this cheese is only available certain times of year.
4. Human Milk Cheese
I mean new research recently indicated that we should be eating our boogers, so why not cheese too?
New York Chef Daniel Angerer decided to try his hand at making human cheese when he ran out of room for his wife's breast milk in his freezer. Not wanting to waste the milk, he made cheese instead and blogged about the process of making his "Mommy's Milk" cheese.
If you want to try this one you'll have to make your own because it's not currently on the market yet, perhaps because people think it's weird.
I'm a big fan of this one. Halloumi is a Mediterranean sheep's milk cheese that doesn't melt, and it's available at many Greek and Mediterranean restaurants in the United States. Because it doesn't melt, Halloumi is great for frying or grilling; and, because it doesn't contain rennet it's a great option for vegetarians.
Cooking website The Spruce describes the taste of of Halloumi as "firm, salty and a bit rubbery, perhaps most comparable to a thick feta in taste with a smoother texture."
This cheese is meant to be served as an addition to your favorite dish versus being eaten plain.
6. Yak Milk Cheese
Yaks, which resemble characters from a Dr. Seuss book, are a staple of the diet in most Himalayan households. Now yak cheese is catching on and is available in the U.S., though you may have to do some cheese sleuthing to track it down.
Mostly made in Nepal, CooksInfo.com reported that the Nepalese don't actually eat the yak cheese they produce (despite eating the rest of the animal), and make it specifically for export to Western countries.
"Yak Cheese made in Nepal has half the butterfat skimmed off the milk to make a harder-style cheese, which is then soaked in brine and cured outdoors in shelters," CooksInfo.com noted. "The cheese ends up grainy and tangy."
7. Reindeer Milk Cheese
Santa's reindeer do more than just bring toys to good girls and boys, they also make their own cheese, according to the website Momtastic Web Ecoist. This Finnish cheese, traditionally made with reindeer milk, is called Juustoleipä, is also known as bread cheese, frying cheese, or squeaky cheese.
This is another cheese that you can fry without it melting, and it's available stateside, but in the U.S. it is sometimes made with cow's milk due to the unavailability of reindeer milk year round, you know because in addition to making cheese reindeer are pretty busy around Christmas with the whole sleigh-pulling thing.
Gubbeen cheese is made on a 250 acre coastal, bio-dynamic farm in West Cork, Ireland, one mile outside the fishing village of Schull. The farm only produces one cheese, which is made from hormone free cows that graze on fresh grass.
"The trick is what we do in the curing processes," Gubbeen Farm owner Giana Ferguson said on their website. "Cheese vintages come from aging plus the milk quality and the seasons."
This cheese is available in the U.S. Gubbeen Farm also has a book with myriad recipes for their cheeses and smoked meats.
9. Little Black Bomber
Most cheese lovers are passionate about a good cheddar, but you haven't had cheddar until you've sampled Little Black Bomber. This mature cheddar, made by Snowdonia Company from Wales, has won the Great British Cheese Awards, Nantwich International Cheese Awards, the World Cheese Awards, and a Super Gold at Mondial Fromage in France.
In short, people think it's pretty great. Try this cheese with a red wine, a baguette, or with pickles, chutney, or relish.
10. Lichen Cheese
If you're in Montreal, be sure to sample some lichen cheese, which was created to resemble the flavor of fermented lichen that Inuit people ate from the stomachs of caribou, according to CNN.
The modern-day lichen cheese is made with goat's milk and lichen, which is roasted and then boiled to create a mold. After that, the cheese is left to ferment until it gets that special caribou stomach flavor.