I've made it a rule that no matter where my husband and I live, we must be in the nearby vicinity of a cute artisanal cheese shop. (It's important to have priorities when looking at real estate!) I love being able to walk a few short blocks and sample all the stinky goodness the mongers are willing to slice up. (The trip burns calories, which justifies whatever I'm about to buy, right?)
While I can easily drop $50 on fancy cheeses, I don't always have the budget (or the time) to justify a special trip to my local cheeserie (please let this term catch on!). So sometimes I just get my fix at the supermarket while I'm doing the rest of my shopping. And you know what? Even my so-so supermarket has some good cheeses. I'm guessing yours does too — you just have to know what to look for.
Here's a list of three things to look for when shopping for good cheese at your supermarket.
1. Something decently stinky.
When it comes to cheese (and nothing else in life!) I believe the stinkier, the better. Of course, you might not agree — maybe you have a lower threshold for funk in your cheese, and that's okay. No matter where you fall on that spectrum, sniff the cheese before you buy it. Yes, even in the wrapper at the supermarket, you will probably be able to get a good whiff. Find the stinkiest cheese that your nose approves of and put it in your cart.
2. Something that's aged.
Generally speaking, the longer a cheese has aged, the stronger the flavor it will have. Aged cheeses — like cheddar, Gruyère, and Gouda — are also more likely to have those amazing crystal-y bits (technically called tyrosine clusters, which are actually amino acid clusters that form with age). Plus, they tend to have lower moisture contents, which means they're more durable and you don't have to worry as much about them spoiling in your fridge before you can eat them.
3. Something local.
My not-so-high-end grocery store somehow doesn't have farro but it has a speciality cheese area. Located over by the deli counter, this is where I can find some fancier imported cheeses and also a small selection of local offerings. I love to search the case in attempts to find the cheesemaker who's closest to me. I'll try one cheese from a new-to-me maker and, if I like it, I'll buy another option from the same maker the next time I'm at the store.
More on Shopping for Cheese
What are some of your favorite cheeses you can get at the grocery store? Tell us in the comments below.