Thursday, October 4, 2007

Cheese, Please!

I just found something that truly made my day...cheddar cheese!! I'd been looking for a while, but had given up hope months ago. I'd resigned to a future of eating the typical Romanian cheeses like branza ("brunzuh") and cascaval ("cashcaval"). Branza is a popular soft cheese, which is best when fresh, but it's a little too salty for my tastes. Cascaval is an aged pressed cheese, and it's ok, but a bit bland. Branza and cascaval are ubiquitous in Romania, virtually cornering the cheese market. So, needless to say, my cheese outlook looked pretty bleak.

But then today I happened to be walking down the dairy isle, and by some strange coincidence happened to look over at the cheeses. And, there it was, my dream come true! They also had brie, swiss, bleu cheese and some other stuff I've never had. I think I'm going to go make a baked potato with cheddar right now in celebration.

With cheese aplenty, Lugoj will be a fine place to live.

1 comment:

Mike Nork said...

Update and addendum: the store stopped selling cheddar. I think I was the only one buying their stock :(

However, during my 17 months in country, I've come to discover more about the complexities of Romanian cheeses. It turns out there are several varieties of branza, and they're not all terribly salty. In fact, my favorite variety is fresh cas ("caash"), which is basically branza that hasn't yet been soaked in a salt brine.

When I once told a Romanian friend that I don't like branza, he retorted, "well, have you tried it from the local villages?" In fact, no, I hadn't. I had tried it a few times back in Ploiesti, but found it too salty. I just assumed all branza was like that. But in reality, the way they make branza in one area may differ slightly from how they do in another region. Moreover, there's a big difference between buying cheese from the supermarket versus the local producer. Unfortunately, my first impression of branza was based on stuff that was probably commercially produced and just a little too old.

Like branza, cascaval comes in many assortments: smoked, unsmoked, sheep's milk, cow's milk, etc. Of all the types I've tried so far, my favorite is cascaval de Moeciu. I find it's makes a decent grilled cheese sandwich :)