In Europe, every cheese reveals its region. Behind every cheese is a dairy tradition, and behind every family of cheeses is a special process.
From artisanal cheeses with strong character which can be enjoyed every day, to fondue and spreadable cheeses, there is a type of Eurpoean cheese for every occasion.
Buy cheese more often, in small amounts. Keeping a cheese for a long time at home in conditions that are often unsuitable will cause it to lose softness and its taste will change.
Dare to try cheeses you haven’t had before. Challenge your Cheese monger to open up new worlds to you! Tell them what you’re looking for in terms of flavours or textures: strong or mild, creamy or firm. Don’t hesitate to taste shapes that are less engaging – you might be surprised by their flavor.
Cheese comes in all shapes and sizes – round, square, heart-shaped, pyramid-shaped, etc. From the rind to the core, the taste of a cheese is never the same and depending on whether it is square or round, it is matured in a different way.
Flavour is generally stronger near the rind, and the texture is creamier, and at times even chalky, towards the middle. In the light of this, cheese should be cut so that it has both the rind and the core (it’s not polite to cut the nose off a wedge of cheese!)
Flat, round cheeses
(such as Camembert, Coulommiers and Reblochon)
You treat the cheese like a cake by starting to cut it from the centre and dragging the knife towards the outside.
Large round cheeses
(such as Brie de Meaux, Brie de Melun and Coulommiers)
Since it is not desirable to leave all the rind until the end, you do not cut the nose of the cheese. There are two solutions:firstly, cut the point: just a few portions wide. Then, along the length, cut portions perpendicular to the heel. Cut into long slices, as you would do with a Camembert, then cut these slices in two once more.
Small round cheeses
(such as Pélardon, Crottin de Chavignol and Picodon)
Small round cheeses can be
cut in two or four.
Square or heart-shaped cheeses (such as Valençay, Charollais,
Maroilles, Pavé d’Auge, Pont l’Évêque, Carré de l’Est and
You handle these like you would round cheeses like Camembert.
Cheeses in the shape of
a pyramid or cylinder
You cut these like round or square cheeses, into thin, long portions going from the very top of the cheese right to the bottom. You should be able to cut it into at least 8 portions.
Large slices of cheese wheels
(such as Comté, Salers and
You should have part of the centre and part of the rind on your plate.
To do this, you start by cutting slices from the centre parallel to the rind, then, once you’ve cut half of the portion, cut the heel in the other direction, or into a fan shape.
Cheeses served with a spoon
(Mont d’Or, Vacherin)
Given their runny consistency, some cheeses must be served with a spoon. A special technique is required to serve Mont d’Or which consists in cutting 90% of the way through the upper rind of the cheese and then lifting it, like you would the lid of a tin can.
Logs of cheese
(such as Sainte-Maure de
Cut into slices, having first removed the container. If the log has a straw through its centre, it’s better to remove the straw to make sure your slices do not break.
Blue cheeses in a cylindrical shape
(such as Fourme d’Ambert)
Blue cheeses in a cylindrical shape must be first sliced, and then cut like a Camembert.
Wedges of cheese
(such as Roquefort)
Blue cheeses cut into wedges must be placed flat and cut into a fan shape from the centre of the thin part.
Very hard cheese
(such as Mimolette extra aged
It can be simply broken up or cut into shavings. As for Tête de Moine, it is shaved into the shape of a rosette using a special cheese cutter.
Getting the most out of your cheese
If you’re putting together a cheese platter, make sure you bring it to room temperature first. Take you cheese out of the fridge a couple of hours before serving.
A cheese platter is as much about visual pleasure as it as about taste, playing with the multiplicity of shapes, textures, colours and flavours. To bring out the best in your cheeses, choose interesting accompaniments.
Add some currants and nuts to your platter (like hazelnuts and almonds). Fresh fruit goes well with cheese, especially apple with Emmental, and grapes with blue cheese. Try Breads with various textures too (fresh baguettes, sourdough, rye). Of course, wine obviously can pair really well with cheese. White wine is usually more suitable, however reds and work with strong, firmer cheeses.