An Interview with a Cheesemonger
Grozdana, what exactly is a cheesemonger?
As a cheesemonger I manage the Croatian Cheese Shop. To become an expert like in wine or cooking requires some education and years of tasting and hands-on experience. I’m typically responsible for all aspects of the cheese inventory; selecting the cheese, purchasing, receiving, storage, and ripening. But most of all in passing on all this useful information to our customers.
How should cheese be stored at home?
Cut cheese should be stored in the refrigerator or on a cold surface in a cool room. Wrap it loosely if you will eat it soon, and tightly if you’ll save it for a special occasion down the line. Don’t smother the cheese as it needs to breath, and wrap it in wax paper or aluminium foil and cover the cheese just enough so that it won’t dry out.
Can you eat the rind of a cheese?
All the rinds on Gligora cheeses are edible and in fact they give some added dimension to the taste, especially our cheeses with additions. Generally speaking though you should always ask your cheesemonger as on some cheeses the rind is best avoided.
Can you freeze cheese?
Simple answer to this question is, No!
What should a novice cheese buyer look for when selecting a cheese?
You should tell the cheesemonger what type of cheese you like and ask them for suggestions and tastes, otherwise you might ask which cheese is in season that day. Don’t go in with a closed mind or you might miss a real treat. If you’re unsure which cheese to buy though our online cheese shop, just send us an email with your questions and we’ll tell you all you need to know. We’re in daily contact with our master affineur who knows just when each cheese is at it’s peak. We love to pass this information on to our customers, so you can trust our judgment.
How do you know when a cheese is ripe and ready to eat?
It takes a lot of experience to know but you check the aroma and make sure it’s consistent with that type of cheese, the same for the colour, taste and texture. All the cheese at the dairy is tasted and graded before it’s released to our shops or for online sales but again, don’t be shy to contact us to find out which cheese is hitting all the right notes.
What’s the difference in flavour between cow, sheep and goat’s milk cheese?
This depends a lot on who made the cheese and the process. The flavour is related to the different milks but the taste of the cheese depends on the style and the way it is produced. For example, an Italian cow milk cheese is much stronger tasting than it’s Spanish counterpart, we have 8 different cow milk cheeses on offer, all offering a wide array of flavour.
Can someone ask to taste a cheese that they are interested in at Gligora cheese shops?
Yes of course, we have in fact 3 different ages of Paški sir available most of the year, as well as a raw milk Paški sir and at certain times we have Paški sir iz mošt and Paški sir iz maslinove komine (which won Best in Class at the World Championship Cheese Contest in America). We would always encourage you to have a taste to see which cheese best suits your palette. We also have a special majski sir available 6 months after spring. The taste of this cheese is special because it’s made from sheep milk who graze upon the wild herbs when they’re in full flora.
What do you suggest pairing with Croatian cheese?
The combinations are endless. Though our Croatian cheese shops and online cheese shop we offer an amazing selection of Croatian delicacies and traditional Dalmatian & Istrian foods. Everything from organic fig jam (sinjorina smokva is probably the best producer of fig jam in the world), to pršut, a ham from a special breed of pig cured in the salty Dalmatian wind. Then we have an incredible range of sweets and cookies from Vilma that you really have to try, all produced with the kind of love only your grandma could perfect.
But no cheese is complete with-out wine and we have an extensive range of the best Croatian wines with helpful tasting notes and pairing suggestions. Keep your mind open to new possibilities and you won’t be disappointed.
What is your favourite cheese?
It depends upon the time of year, but right now I really enjoy the extra mature Žigljen
Grozdana, thanks for the interview.