Drink Magazine

A Cheese Plea

By Karenvanzant @KarenVanZant
Ok, here is my plea for the day...use real, unprocessed cheese in your dishes when you can. I promise, it truly makes a difference. I will probably write more than one time about cheese and my favorite types from time to time. Having had the opportunity to work for Murray's Cheese, although it was brief, I learned a lot and still continue to educate myself on cheese and cheese making. Really, who would've thought there would be so many books on cheese? It's awesome!
My favorite cheese, hands down, is Parmigiano-Reggiano. Before I started working at Murray's, I'd never had it before. Parmesan cheese was, in my experiences, the stuff in the green can that my mom used when making spaghetti. And I still use the green stuff in the can, let's face it, it's way  more affordable! But, when you can, I beg you to try the real stuff. You'll notice the difference immediately & although you might have to, you won't want to go back to the imitation stuff. And a bonus, whenever you buy a piece of Parm, you'll also get a piece of the rind- save that guy & throw him into a broth the next time you make a soup or stew, it adds tons of flavor! You can freeze the rinds until you're ready to use them.
Everything about Parm fascinates me; the way it's made, the humongous wheels it comes in, and obviously how it tastes. There is nothing better in the world than a piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano from the center of a Parm wheel. It's spicy and peppery, a bit salty, and just melts in your mouth. This is what a cheese experience is supposed to be like! 
Cutting into an 80 pound wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano is an experience in itself, as well! Working at Murray's, I had the opportunity to do this on several occasions. You almost feel like a surgeon, because it takes about six different instruments and saws to cut through the hard rind and get into the center of a wheel. It can also be a challenge for someone like me, who doesn't have much upper-body strength. It took me twice as long to cut open a wheel than it did for most of the guys I worked with, but hey, while I worked there I didn't have to go to a gym; I knew I'd be getting a workout thanks to my 'ol friend Parmigiano-Reggiano! (Really, it does work. My old boss Jona used to call it getting her "Parm Arms." So true!
Here is a photo of one of the wheels of Parm I cut, this is a quarter of a wheel that weighed about 80 pounds total:
A Cheese Plea
If your grocery store doesn't have a specialty cheese section, it's really worth the time to try to find one! Some stores will have cheese already cut & cryovac-sealed, and these are still better options than the cheeses that you'll find in the processed-cheese aisle. However if you can find a specialty cheese shop like Murray's, which cuts from the wheel & wraps each piece by hand for you, that's the ticket! And don't be afraid to ask questions or ask to sample the cheeses while you're there; I've never met a cheesemonger who wasn't happy to help! And don't get me wrong, I'm not a cheese snob- I use the processed stuff, too. Sometimes it's more affordable. Sometimes it's just more convenient. But my point here is that cheese should be a treat, too. Sometimes it can really make or break a dish, & when you're looking for quality ingredients, cheese isn't one you should skimp on if you don't have to, I promise!

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