There I was, at Classified for lunch with our new unofficial press crew, when the inevitable question popped up from our waitress. Any particular cheeses you'd like for your cheese plate?
I'm just about the most "whatever" person you'll ever meet. Red or white? I don't care. Coke or Diet? Up to you. Vanilla or chocolate? Um, both. I've never had that foodie patience, the kind that allows people to stand inside a frigid cheese cellar learning about the intricacies of bleus and camemberts, hards and softs, whites and yellows, stinky or... slightly-less-stinky-but-still-pretty-stinky.
I figured if I'm this blase (and er, technically, I am sort of a food journo), then there must be plenty of you out there too. So I thought we'd ask Wendy Wu, in-house Affineur of Classified, who learned her craft from local cheese farmers in France, to help us out with a cheat sheet -- a list of four not-so-common cheeses in Hong Kong that will trick your compadres into believing that you're some sort of cheese guru when asked to specify a selection. Click on to see what they are, as well as the difference between the terms Parmigiano-Reggiano, Grana Padano and Parmesan, which will allow you to really fake it in the world of foodies.
The name Reblochon derived from the French patois term “reblocher” which means to pinch the cow’s udder a second time. With its reddish-orange washed rind lightly covered with white mould, Reblochon is one of France’s great mountain cheeses. An ivory-colored, semi-hard cheese with a creamy body, Reblochon can be quite robust, especially when well-aged. Its taste
is velvety and smooth with a hint of nuttiness that delights the palate.
Produced amidst lakes and volcanoes in region Auvergne of untamed beauty, Saint Nectaire is a semi-hard cheese which derives its smooth taste from the Auvergne “terroir”. Since the 17th century, it has been uniquely associated with the Auvergne countryside. Made from either pasteurized milk or raw milk, dairy-produced Saint Nectaire is distinguished by its square green
Chaource is made in the heart of the humid Champagne region, and is a must on all of the Champagne region cheese boards. This cheese has an appetizing bouquet which evokes mushrooms and becomes creamy to the point of runniness as it ages and thus, becomes even tastier.
This is a soft cow’s milk cheese that throughout the ripening process is regularly rubbed in some water which is blended with Marc de Bourgogne, a regional specialty brandy. Epoisses is a harmony of contrasting tastes, with its penetrating bouquet and intensely complex flavor. There are two ways to enjoy this cheese -- either ripened until almost running away, or with the centre of the cheese still intact.
Parmigiano Reggiano is named after its producing area in Italy- Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, and Bologna (all in Emilia-Romagna). Parmigiano is the Italian adjective for Parma. Reggiano is the Italian adjective for Reggio Emilia. Traditionally, cows have to be fed only on grass or hay to produce milk for Parmigiano Reggiano. And the milk is unpasteurized skimmed milk.
Grana Padano is the closest legitimate Italian hard cheese to Parmigiano Reggiano. It is adopted to avoid the strict legal constraints to produce Parmigiano Reggiano. It is produced mainly in Lombardy, Italy. Different from the production of Parmigiano Reggiano, there’s no control on cow feed (cows can be fed silage, not just grass and hay only).
Parmesan serves as an informal and general term to refer to cheeses imitating Parmigiano Reggiano, or other similar Italian hard cheeses. No restriction as to the producing areas. American version of Parmesan is made of pasteurized milk, mechanically pressed to expel excess moisture, aged shorter and often sold grated.
And just because you made it reading this far, here's a prize for you: food porn! The steak sandwich and pasta from Classified -- because it's not always all about the cheese. Especially when you're a big, fat, hungry pig.