From "Cheese 101"
BUYING, STORING, AND AGING
The first thing I will tell you about this subject is simply: buy what you need. I’ve seen it too many times in my shop. Cheese lovers come in, andthey get really excited by the aromas, textures and flavors of all the beautiful cheeses we carry. They eat with their eyes, and as much as the businessman inside me says “sell, sell, sell!” I try to refrain from letting my customers overbuy. The last thing I want is for the client to have a bad cheese experience. What’s a bad cheese experience, you ask? I will explain.
Imagine that you go to your trusty cheesemonger, and you end up with much more cheese than you need. You just can’t help it—you wanted it all! You arrive home overloaded with this goodness and put it away for when you’re ready.
As I’ve said previously, many cheeses get better with age, but I’m not talking about the smaller, cut pieces that are wrapped up in your fridge. An amazing glass of wine, no matter how prized and rare, is meant to be drunk and enjoyed—you’d never think of saving a solitary glass of wine for later. And the same is true for cheese. A cut piece of cheese in your fridge isn’t going to get better; rather, the opposite. And trust me, there is nothing worse than reaching into your fridge for your favorite cheese and discovering that it’s way past its prime.
How should we remedy this? The answer is simple. Buy smaller pieces and visit your cheesemonger more frequently. Ask your cheesemonger questions such as:
• What’s really good today?
• What should I shave into my salad?
• What should I put onto my pasta?
• I’m having this wine with dinner tonight;what cheese would pair well with it?
When you ask these kinds of questions, you’ll get to know your cheesemonger. Develop a relationship with them, get to know their schedule, get to know when the fresh buffalo mozzarella arrives, get to know who their favorite sports team is, and more! Trying to establish a strong relationship with your cheesemonger might seem silly, but if you love great cheese, this connection will become incredibly valuable.
Now that you know how to buy your cheese, let’s turn to storage. For the most part, if you’re buying cheese from a reputable cheesemonger, you should keep the cheese in its original wax paper packaging. This wax paper is specially designed to store cheese. This will work for the first few days after you bring the cheese home. Beyond that point, you should rewrap the cheese in parchment paper and cover it tightly in aluminum foil. The cheese wax paper will only keep the moisture in for a few days; by covering it in fresh parchment paper followed by aluminum foil, you let the cheese breathe, without letting it dry out from being exposed to the air. This also works to keep the cheese from absorbing ambient scents or flavors in your fridge. And if you’re a real cheese fiend like I am, you can dedicate your vegetable crisper as a cheese storage box. Who needs vegetables, anyway? Just remember to let the cheese come to room temperature completely before you serve it—you have to let the flavors open up, in much the same way as you decant a bottle of red wine. Depending on the cheese, this could take one to three hours. Promise me you won’t serve it cold.
Copyright © 2018 by Afrim Pristine. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.