My husband pointed out that delicious food has been grossly underrepresented on these pages, so this week’s Friday list starts down the path of correcting that grievous wrong. Here, find a list of delicious cheeses that you need to buy and taste immediately.

  • Smoked Gruyère – a salty-sweet, smoky, medium-hard cheese that’s whitish-yellow. The most widely available and cost-effective is Boar’s Head and can be found in many grocery store deli cases. Look for a tall, narrow block of cheese with what looks like grill marks on it. You can also find more expensive versions in the pre-packaged case. Makes a fondue that will make you slap your grandma.
  • Smoked Gouda – do not confuse smoked gouda with regular gouda. Smoked gouda is infinitely more flavorful and has a far superior texture, even though it is often more expensive. It’s typically packaged in rounds about 4″ in diameter and 1.5″ thick, with a thin brown rind and creamy white body. The flavor is (obviously) smoky, and it can’t be beaten melted into a pot of grits or used in a smokin’ mac-n-cheese.
  • Real Parmesan – not the kind that comes grated in a plastic cylinder with a green lid. Not even the kind that comes in little shreds rather than a crumbly powder. Pay the $10 or whatever it takes to get a wedge of parmigiano-reggiano or parmigiano-romano. I promise it’s worth it. And you can use it on more than just tomato sauce, too. Try it sliced thin and melted over a piece of toasted french bread, carmelized onions, and roasted red peppers for a world-changing bruschetta. The cylinder cheese is fine if your family goes through a jar of it a week (we do), but occasionally, you should go whole-hog for the real stuff.
  • Hook’s Tilston Point Blue – I’ve only had this cheese once and I still think of it often, thus the specificity. This stuff has the richest, creamiest, deepest flavor of any blue cheese I’ve ever eaten. It bites you back. If you like blue cheese, just eating it plain is a religious experience. I imagine it would also be perfect crumbled over a salad, but it’s too exquisite to mix into mayo for dressing.
  • Cabot Seriously Sharp white cheddar – probably the least expensive cheese I’ve listed here, but no doubt one of the tastiest. This stuff created a revolution on both sides of my family last year when we all discovered it at the same time. Now, you can’t hardly eat at a Nelson or Waldrop function without it being served. Find it in the tartan-plaid wrapper with the generic cheese on the dairy aisle.

If you live near a Trader Joe’s, you can find a lot of really interesting cheeses there, and it’s much less expensive than at a grocery store. Also, if you live in or around Atlanta, I recommend The Brick Store Pub‘s monthly beer and cheese tastings. A whole lotta delicious for $25.

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