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7. Castelo Branco
8. Blue Stilton
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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
Halloumi is a semi-hard cheese made with milk from sheep and goats, sometimes completed with cow's milk. The first mention of this produce goes back to the byzantine period on Cyprus, but in the Twenty-First Century production has spread around the eastern part of the Mediterranean.
Traditional halloumi is not pasteurised, and is preserved in briny water. Recipes that use halloumi frequently use the cheese grilled or baked, as it has a higher melting point than other cheeses.
According to US regulations from the 1990s, halloumi has to be made in Cyprus. The European Union has been asked to certify Cypriot halloumi, but at the time when I wrote this quiz, debate was still going on about the inclusion of cow's milk. Traditional Cypriot manufacturers of halloumi would like the European certification excluding cow's milk.
The European Union has certified mozzarella as a produce from southern Italy. Traditional Italian farmers use the milk of the Italian water buffalo, but as the certificate doesn't mention which milk has to be used, most mozzarella found in the stores is from cow's milk. Chefs who frequently use mozzarella, insist however that the traditional mozzarella from buffalo milk has a far better taste.
The buffalo mozzarella has to bear the denomination "Mozzarella di bufala campana". It has been certified with Protected Denomination of Origin (the highest European geographical protection).
Mozzarella di bufala campana is the real thing, cheese that doesn't mention this denomination is probably made with cow's milk. The trade association grouping traditional mozzarella manufacturers, further demands that the buffalo cheese is kneaded by the cheese maker with his bare hands.
Camembert is one out of fifty-odd different types of French cheese with an AOC (appellation d'origine controlée). The AOC version has to be made in Normandy, using unpasteurized cow's milk, to which a specific fungus (Penicillum camemberti) is applied.
Camembert is made in small disks of about 250 grams, not in large cartwheels like many other cheeses. The smaller portions cause faster ripening of the cheese. Camembert has a soft and creamy texture and a white colour.
There is of course also Camembert cheese that does not fulfil the requirements of the AOC. Many cheese manufacturers use pasteurized cow's milk, and there are some manufacturers that make cheeses resembling Camembert in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia or Cornwall. I've never tasted one of these non-French "camembert" cheeses, but I suppose comparing it to the AOC cheese will tend to favour the original taste.
Feta is a white cheese made from sheep's milk (and maximum 30% goat's milk) from designated areas in Greece. At least, that is the rule for the European designation of origin (PDO). It can but doesn't has to use pasteurized milk. To insure longer preservation, most producers use pasteurized milk.
As with many successful agricultural produce, there are in the supermarkets similar products available from various countries, and the non-original feta frequently is made with cow's milk to reduce the cost. People who really like their feta, will certainly tell if it is real Greek feta (which complies to the European norms) or a commercial substitute. Several countries were legally forced to rename their feta style cheeses because they do not fulfil the certification norms.
The culinary use of (Greek) feta is in salads and in typical Greek pies.
The traditional cheese named after the valley of the Emme river is called "Emmentaler Switzerland" and as such is protected as an appellation d'origine protégée (AOP). It is made with raw cow's milk, avoiding all synthetic nutrition additions and using no genetically modified produce.
Traditional Emmentaler (as I will call the AOP version hence on) ripens for at least 4 months. Three different bacteria are used in the production process, including the local bacteria Lactobacillus helveticus.
There are other similar cheeses which don't fulfil the AOP norms. Some of these "alternative" Emmentalers have obtained a Protected Geographical Indication (French emmentaler) or another certificate (German emmentaler).
Emmentaler cheese is used primarily in gratins and fondues.
The name of Gouda cheese has been used for similar cheeses from all over the world. But the European Union has certified "Noord-Hollandse Gouda" and "Boerenkaas", the original produce, with a label of Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) - a lesser degree of protection in the European Union than the PDO mentioned for other cheeses in this quiz.
Noord-Hollandse Gouda is made from cow's milk, originally (and for the Boerenkaas still) unpasteurized. It is matured for at least one month. The longer the cheese matures, the harder and tastier it gets. This is why the Gouda is sold in six varieties, ranging from young cheese (matured during four weeks) up to very old cheese (matured for more than a year.
Gouda cheese has the most diverse uses in the kitchen. It is commonly used in sandwiches or can be used in salads. A typical way of serving in the Netherlands and in Belgium is a small dish of diced Gouda, possibly with mustard, to accompany a strong ale.
7. Castelo Branco
Castelo Branco has been certified since 1996 by the European Union with a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO). The cheese has to be handmade in the district of Castelo Branco (East Portugal, a bit to the northeast of Lisbon) using unpasteurized sheep's milk (from the local Merino breed) and/or unpasteurized goat's milk. It matures for usually 40 days (when using only goat's milk) or 50 days (when using only sheep's milk).
Castelo Branco cheese has a white soft creamy texture. If it is matured beyond the typical 40 or 50 days, it gets crumbly and more yellowish.
Incidentally, the town's name Castelo Branco translates to "White Castle".
8. Blue Stilton
Blue Stilton is a cheese made from pasteurized cow's milk. It has been certified as a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin). The milk has to come from dairy farms in the region certified for making Blue Stilton: parts of the counties Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. To get the characteristic blue veins, the maturing cheese is punctured with (stainless steel) needles, so that the local bacteria can invade the cheese.
Oddly enough Blue Stilton cannot be produced in the village of Stilton, for this village is in another county than the three counties having earned the Protected Designation of Origin.
Blue Stilton is a semi-soft cheese, crumbly at the outside and creamier within. As it ripens (for at least 9 weeks), it gets more creamy. The crust is formed naturally and perfectly edible.
The best known use of Blue Stilton is as a dessert, served with a glass of old port. But it can also be added to celery or broccoli soup, crumbled over a salad, or used to make a sauce accompanying a slice of beef.
Manchego is made in the region of La Mancha, with (pasteurized or raw) milk from sheep belonging to the local breed. The certificate Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) also requires a maturing time between 60 days and 2 years, and demands that the cheese be pressed into cylindrical moulds of a certain maximum height and diameter. (So if the cheese would be too big, it could not bear the PDO label). Furthermore there is a limit on the other ingredients: apart from the sheep's milk, only salt and specific coagulating enzymes are allowed.
Manchego that has ripened for over a year, is good for grating over a dish. Furthermore the cheese is used frequently in tapas.
Esrom cheese was produced at Esrom Abbey, a Trappist monastery in Denmark that was closed in 1559. The recipe was retrieved in 1951 and the cheese is since then made again in the same region.
Esrom cheese is made with cow's milk and matured for 10 to 12 weeks. This semi-soft yellow cheese with a brown rind has a very specific taste. It may be used in casseroles or simply on sandwiches, and it sometimes is melted over bread.
Esrom has a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) certificate.