Getting a true taste of a new culture with local cuisine can be one of the most enjoyable parts of any trip. When it comes to food and drink pairings, few things can rival a piece of cheese with a glass of wine. Here, we’ve rounded up five of our favorite cheeses from around the world for all of the turophiles, or cheese lovers, out there.
Emmenthal from Switzerland
When Americans ask for Swiss cheese, they’re usually asking for Emmenthal. This medium-hard, yellow cheese made from cow’s milk hails from the dairy farms of Switzerland’s Emme Valley, and its characteristic holes were once considered an imperfection. Back in 2006, an Emmenthal cheese that had been aged 14 months won the prestigious Wisconsin Cheese World Championships, besting more than 1,700 other entries.
Roquefort from France
To earn the name Roquefort, a cheese must be aged for five months in one of a handful of natural caves in the hills overlooking Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, a tiny village in the south of France. The caves are home to a special bacteria, Penicillium roqueforti, that gives the cheese its distinctive green veins and crumbly texture. Like other blue cheeses that contain this type of mold, Roquefort can be recognized by its rich, tangy flavor.
Gouda from the Netherlands
Depending on the desired consistency, Gouda can be aged for anywhere from one month to seven years. The longer Gouda ages, the sweeter and more brittle it becomes. Shoppers can find a wide variety of Goudas, including smoked Gouda, Beemster Gouda (which has an aftertaste of toffee and bourbon) and the rare Brandnetelkaas, which contains nettle leaves that give it a sharp bite. Originally made outside of Rotterdam, Gouda remains a Dutch favorite: More than 60% of the cheese made in the Netherlands is Gouda.
Manchego from Spain
If you’re looking for a change of pace, pick up some manchego cheese the next time you go grocery shopping. This Spanish sheep milk cheese is a little harder and denser than cheddar and works well with water crackers. It won’t melt easily, but manchego is delicious when served alone as an appetizer or a snack. Most manchegos are aged from three to twelve months, but if you’re in the La Mancha region of Spain, seek out the Fresco variety, which is aged for just two weeks.
Paneer from India
Sometimes called chhena, paneer is one of the most popular cheeses on the Indian subcontinent. Production of this type of cheese differs from most others in one important way: Acid (often in the form of lemon juice) is used instead of rennet to separate the curds from the whey. Paneer is commonly used in traditional South Asian cuisines as a thickening agent in dishes such as saag paneer.
Have you ever tried a new type of cheese while traveling? Tell us about your favorite one in the comments below.