An Eclectic Assortment
EDITORS' NOTE: We suggest serving 6 ounces of cheese per person (4 1/2 pounds total for 12 people). We chose 15 cheeses available in the U.S. and broke them down into the following classifications of texture and type.
Chabichou du Poitou (Poitou, France)Look for Le Chevrot, which comes pasteurized in the U.S., with a stark-white, creamy interior and a sharp citrusy flavor. Beige or light brown rind with faint mold.
Picandine Chèvre (Saint-Astier, France)Pasteurized, with a white exterior and a sweet, mild flavor. Sometimes found wrapped in chestnut leaves.
Valençay (Berry, France)Available pasteurized in the U.S. Short, four-sided, truncated pyramid sometimes covered in (edible) ash. The white interior is smooth, soft, and mild; flavor intensifies and rind hardens as cheese ages. A prize-winning American-made option is Bloomsdale, a Valençay-inspired pasteurized farmstead cheese from Baetje Farms in Missouri.
Hudson Valley Camembert (New York State) A pasteurized fresh cheese made with sheep's and cow's milkfrom Old Chatham Sheepherding Company.
Muenster (Alsace, France)Available pasteurized in the U.S., this cow's-milk cheese is characterized by a russet-colored rind and a nutty flavor; develops a pungent aroma as cheese ages.
Pierre Robert (Brie, France)A triple-crème pasteurized cow's-milk cheese with a luscious, mild flavor. As it ripens, the rind becomes a mottled beige-brown.
Taleggio (Lombardy, Italy)A cow's-milk cheese that is available pasteurized in the U.S. Refined, mild salty flavor; distinctive musky rind.
Dry Jack (California)Aged raw cow's milk cheese that resembles Parmigiano-Reggiano in its depth of flavor and firm texture. Distinctive cocoa-and-black-pepper-coated rind.
Farmhouse Cheddar (southern England)A firm raw cow's-milk cheese. Two superb examples are Keen's (sharp flavor, closer to what most Americans are used to) and Montgomery (a little fruitier).
Parmigiano-Reggiano (Emilia-Romagna)A raw cow's-milk cheese with a granular texture. Flavor is fruitiest when cheese is no more than two years old.
Vermont Shepherd (Vermont)Aged raw sheep's-milk cheese from Major Farm. Buttery texture and herby flavor that reflects the wonderful pastureland.
Cabrales (Asturias, Spain)Mixture of raw cow's, goat's, and sheep's milk. Rich flavor and crumbly texture similar to that of Roquefort. Striking blue-purple veining.
Gorgonzola Dolce (Lombardy, Italy)A mild, almost sweet raw or pasteurized cow's milk cheese with a creamy texture; differs from aged Gorgonzola (Gorgonzola naturale), which is sharper and firmer.
Maytag Blue (Iowa)A raw cow's milk cheese with a peppery taste and a creamy texture. Becomes more piquant as it ages.
Roquefort (southern France)Made from a raw sheep's milk, this ancient cheese has a moist, crumbly texture. Some brands are saltier than others; we like Le Papillon and Vieux Berger, which may be the least salty of all Roqueforts.