Restaurant Reviews

Say Cheese: Publix Embraces Le Fromage

I usually don't pay much attention to anything at Publix. If there are two kinds of people in the world, the glassy-eyed ones that stumble about in grocery stores for hours, and the itchy ones who think five minutes is way too long to spend among shelves of Spaghetti-O's, class me in the latter category. But a couple of weeks ago I did stop to linger at the cheese cooler, and noticed that Publix is putting on some esoteric cheese lingo.

Bloomy rind? How many harried shoppers even know what that means? It sounds like a phrase you might use to categorize rhinosceros hide. They also had "washed rind" and "blue veined," among other specialized categories. Sheesh. We've come a long way from Kraft packaged American slices.

I went home and brushed up on my cheese classifications: I'll share them with you here. So next time you go to Publix you won't be hopelessly confused.

Fresh cheeses: Are like cottage cheese or ricotta, cream cheese or feta. Some of these, like ricotta, are quite easy to make at home.

Soft cheeses: Are like the ubiquitous boursin, and goat cheese. But also "bloomy" rind ripened soft cheeses, like camembert or brie. These last two have that soft, fuzzy white penicillium rind, and they ripen from the outside in. When they're fully ripened they're a bit runny and buttery. Yum.

Blue veined cheeses: This is sort of obvious. Blue Cheese, Stilton, Gorgonzola.

Semi-soft cheeses: Havarti, Gouda, Fontina. Some of these may have the orange "washed rind" that comes from washing with brine or alcohol. This creates a damp environment conducive to the growth of stinky molds. Epoisse is a good example of this. Also a new washed rind cheese called Barick Obama.

Firm cheese: Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Swiss, Gruyere, Provolone

Hard cheese: Parmigiana, Pecorino romano. These have natural rinds, a thin hard layer that develops on its own without much coaching.

It all gets a lot more complicated from here, depending on which type of milk is used: Cow's, goat's, or sheep's. And in the addition of extra cream (as in triple cream, my favorite). And also how long and in what manner the cheese is aged. But for the purposes of our trips to Publix, this little list is enough to get us started.

Hit the jump for an easy recipe for homemade ricotta. I've done this, it's delicious, and it's a cinch.

or see the written recipe here.

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Gail Shepherd
Contact: Gail Shepherd