Cheese Plate of the Week August 13th, 2007

Laguiole Vieux:Raw Cow, Auvergne, France
-While the French would never refer to it as such, this is essentially the French Farmhouse Cheddar. The flavor is superb: buttery, earthy and sharp. However the principal attraction could well be the texture. A unique balance of crumbly and creamy, it is superb as part of an antipasto, melted over potatoes or bread, or on its own with some red apples.

Ribafria:Goat, Portugal
-Easily identified by its half-centimeter-thick layer of black pepper pressed into the rind, it is easy to predict what this cheese will taste like. Considered in Portugal to be a rite of passage to eat the 8 ounce wheel with pepper intact, the majority of its consumers scrape away the pepper, leaving a perfectly seasoned aged chevre.

Foja de Noce:Sheep, Le Marche, Italy
-One of the absolute gems. As soon as the curds are set, this cheese is wrapped in walnut leaves and aged in a cave for 8 months. The leaves, not surprisingly, impart a slight nuttiness, while the cave-aging assure that the cheese will not dry with age. Outstanding with varietal honey or balsamic, it is also a decadent option for pasta or risotto.

Colston Bassett Stilton:Cow, Nottinghamshire, England -The British staunchly laud this cheese as the best in the world, and with the exception of the makers of Roquefort and Parmigiano Reggiano, no one can confidentially stand against that claim. While commonly served with crusty bread and fresh fruit, it is best employed as an after dinner pairing with Port wine.