Make us your home page
Instagram

Taste test: fancy cheese

On a recent trip to northern France, we ate a lot of cheese. And that's probably an understatement. From mild to sharp, hard to soft, blue to aged, there were milk cheeses, goat cheeses and varieties infused with everything from herbs to dried fruit. Cheese was served as a snack, an appetizer and for dessert at meals in Paris and in the countryside. What I found most impressive, though, were the lunches served at the public schools attended by the children of our host families. There were no chicken nuggets. Instead, they are served baguettes and select cheeses, including blue cheese, Brie and a local favorite, Camembert, before they dine on baked chicken breasts, boiled potatoes and salade verte, a mixture of local greens. When we returned to Florida, I went shopping in search of a few "fancy" cheeses I could send to school with my daughter, along with some fresh bread or crackers. We wanted to go beyond string cheese or the cheese "product" served prepackaged with crackers or pretzels. All seven cheeses we sampled came in convenient sizes that would travel well. Our Taster's panel picked three favorites, all of which can be served at room temperature.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

ProductIle de France Brie Bites Old Croc Australian Cheese Alouette Parmesan & Basil Le Petite Fromage
Judges'

comments
"These are the perfect portion," said one judge who raved about these cheese bites. "I would eat this alone, on bread or crackers or wrapped in puffed pastry and baked for a bite-sized appetizer." Another called these Brie bites classic, describing the cheese as silky and smooth in texture and taste. "It's refreshing and light," said the panelist. Judges said the cheeses were the ideal size for packing. "They would hold up well in a lunch box," said one.These rectangular pieces tasted sharp like a bold cheddar and would be easily transported from the refrigerator to a lunch box or bag, judges said. "It is best served at room temperature," said one panelist. "It's delightfully creamy with a seriously strong white cheddar taste," said another judge. "I would absolutely buy this," said a teacher on our panel. "It's got a powerful cheddar taste that brings abundant satisfaction in a nice, small slice," said the taster.This super spreadable square of cheese had a solid cheese flavor with flecks of green herbs. "The little container is so cute, and I love the herby flavor," said one judge. "I would send two of these to school with my child, along with some crackers and a decorative spreader." Another said, "What's not to love? It would be great on a cracker." But, she said, "My favorite idea would be to add it to grits. It's the perfect, individual portion for cheese grits."
Would

they buy?
All four judges said yes.All four judges said yes.Three of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information$5.50 for a bag of five Brie rounds from Publix. $6 for a 6-ounce bag of eight pieces from Winn-Dixie.$3.49 for a 4.7-ounce box of eight pieces from Winn-Dixie.


Also Sampled: Mini Babybel Original Semisoft Cheese ($4.99 for a bag of six 0.7-ounce rounds from the Fresh Market); BelGioioso Fontina Snacking Cheese ($4.99 for a 6-ounce bag of eight pieces from Winn-Dixie); Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery Cheddar Cheese Curds ($8.99 for a 16-ounce bag from Target); and Montchevré Fresh Goat Cheese ($5.99 for a 5-ounce package of five pieces from Target).

Panelists: Steve Sims, theology teacher at Tampa Catholic High School; Kay Hodnett, personal chef; Sophie Wiltshire, high school senior; and Janet Keeler, assistant professor of journalism at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or email them to mstark@tampabay.com. Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

tampabay.com/things-to-do/food/tastetest.

Serving size1 piece1 piece1 piece
Calories709040
Fat/Fiber6g / 0g8g / 0g3g / 0g
Sugars/Sodium1g / 160mg0g / 135mg0g / 75mg
Carbs/Protein1g / 4g0g / 5g1g / 2g

Taste test: fancy cheese 09/06/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 6, 2016 11:50am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Please, let 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales' be the last

    Movies

    Zombie sharks are jumped by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, our fifth and hopefully final ride through Disney's theme park franchise. You can cut in line ahead of me, if you like.

    In this image released by Disney, Johnny Depp portrays Jack Sparrow in a scene from "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales." (Disney via AP)
  2. New podcast: Martha Quinn talks Journey reunion, '80s revival and more

    Blogs

    It's been FOREVER since we had former MTV veejay and all-around '80s queen Martha Quinn on the Stuck in the '80s podcast! Eight years at least! So we're super jazzed to say Martha rejoins us this week to talk about everything '80s.

  3. These days, don't hit the theme park without an app and a phone charger

    Florida

    Emile Crawford stocks two back-up phone battery chargers these days when she takes her kids to Disney World. But she dare not venture into a theme park without a smart phone app, an accessory becoming as necessary as sunscreen in Florida theme parks.

    A wristband visitors will wear at the new Volcano Bay water park in Orlando, Florida. The wristband, called Tapu Tapu, tells you when it's your turn to get on a ride. It also lets you pay for food so you don't have to carry a wallet and opens lockers so you don't have to  carry a key. (Universal via AP)
  4. James Cameron, Zoe Saldana and more appear at Disney's Pandora

    Florida

    ORLANDO — As he stood on a stage at Disney World Wednesday, director James Cameron revealed his teenage dreams.

    Zoe Saldana tweeted a photo of herself from Wednesday's appearance at a new land in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Pandora -- the World of Avatar. The land is based on James Cameron film, in which she stars. Photo via Twitter.
  5. This week's best Tampa Bay concerts: Sunset Music Festival, 97X BBQ, Train and more

    Music & Concerts

    RISING AGAIN: Sunset Music Festival

    Trance superstars Above and Beyond will headline the Sunset Music Festival on Sunday. Some 60,000 attendees are expected.