When you think of the word “cheese” – what exactly do you think of? Obviously, the world of cheese is very large and varied, and there are thousands of types of cheese: fresh cheese, cream cheese, parmesan cheese, cottage cheese, blue cheese, Manchego cheese, ricotta cheese… and, naturally, the number of cheese dairies is just as large, both in Spain and in other countries. But what is the best cheese and what is the healthiest cheese? The answers to these questions can be as varied as the types of cheese. We will try to answer them in this article. However, we should first start by understanding exactly what cheese is.
But first, a bit of history
Cheese is an artisanal dairy product made from fermented milk and is one of the first products made by mankind. The first cheeses emerged in the Neolithic period when humans first learned to domesticate animals, such as sheep, between 8,000 BC and 3,000 BC. Since the beginning of human history, ancient civilisations such as Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome have used fermented milk to make thousands of cheeses.
However, you may be surprised to learn that it was not until the industrial revolution in the 19th century that the technique of pasteurisation was discovered, which reduced the potential infections that milk could contain.
If you want to read more about the history of cheese, we recommend this article by García Baquero
How to classify cheeses to be able to order them properly in a restaurant
In order not to get lost in the world of cheeses, it is important to learn how to classify them so that we can better identify which cheeses we are going to taste.
Firstly, cheeses can be classified according to their raw material, which is milk:
- Cheeses made from sheep’s milk: They usually contain proteins and fats, and have a more acidic and salty taste.
- Cheeses made from goat’s milk: They have a strong flavour and a unique aroma.
- Cheeses made from cow’s milk: These are the most common type. They have a mild, creamy taste and contain less fat.
- Cheeses made from buffalo milk: This milk has a unique, sweet, and delicate taste.
With this classification in mind, cheeses can be further classified according to their ripening process. Like other products such as wine, as time passes, the taste of the cheese changes and becomes more flavourful. The more time passes, the stronger and more intense the flavour of the cheese becomes.
- Fresh cheeses: These are the youngest cheeses because they have no ripening process. They are creamy and soft. In addition, they are cheeses with very little fat. Here we can find cheeses such as mascarpone, burgos or mozzarella.
- Soft cheese: These cheeses are soft, creamy, moist, and salty. They are also rich in calcium, phosphorus and very digestible. Here we can find cheeses such as Brie and Camembert.
- Semi-soft cheeses: These cheeses have a lot of moisture and are hard on the outside and soft on the inside. Their calorie content is higher due to their ripening process. They also have a high calcium, potassium, and vitamin D content. They have a stronger flavour because they have more time to mature. Here you will find cheeses such as Havarti, Münster or Taleggio.
- Semi-hard cheeses: These cheeses have a longer ripening process, usually one year. They are firm in texture and often rich and sharp in flavour. Here we can find cheeses such as cheddar, Emmental, Gouda, or Gruyère.
- Hard cheeses: Hard cheeses have a very rich flavour due to the ageing process, making them ideal for flavouring your food. Due to their low moisture content, they can be preserved for a long time. Here we find for example Manchego cheese and Parmesan cheese.
- Blue Cheese: These cheeses have a characteristic blue mould and a very strong characteristic aroma. Here we can find cheeses such as Gorgonzola, Roquefort or Cabrales.
In this infographic published by Sammy Medina, you can find more detailed information about the types of cheese.
Did you know that the best cheese in the world is Spanish?
To be able to answer this question, it is necessary to ask another one first: How is the best cheese evaluated? Well, the judges of the World Cheese Awards 2021 evaluate cheeses by their shape, smell, touch, taste, presentation, and difficulty of production. According to them, the best cheese is Spanish, the Olavidia, from the Quesos y Besos cheese dairy located in Guarromán (Jaén). This cheese has been recognised as the best in the world out of more than 4,000 varieties of cheese from 48 countries.
Cheese properties: Myths and truths
Despite being known for being high in calories, there are many healthier options. For example, fresh cheese, parmesan cheese or cottage cheese are considered to be some of the cheeses with the best positive impact on health. In addition, there are also cheeses that are compatible with people who suffer from lactose intolerance. Which ones are they? Read on!
Whatever your favourite is, it is understood that cheese is a food that should be consumed in moderation, due to its high fat content. However, it is worth noting that, in general, fresh and aged cheeses are healthier; the former because they are low in calories, and the latter because their taste is more intense, so only a small amount is needed to enrich your dishes. Here are some examples:
- Parmesan is the quintessential pasta cheese and is good for intestinal health and digestion.
- Aged cheddar is a perfect choice for the lactose intolerant, and the older it is, the more intense the flavour.
- Mozzarella contains little cholesterol and lactose, very little fat and lots of high-quality protein.
- Feta is very common in Greece and the United States, for example in salads. It contains little fat, phosphorus, calcium, and vitamin B and is low in calories.
- Fresh cheese prevents fat accumulation and contains a lot of vitamins A, B and D as well as protein. It helps prevent diseases such as osteoarthritis and is good for joints and muscle fibres.
- Similarly, cottage cheese is low in fat and sodium and is also recommended for people with cardiovascular problems.
- Whipped cheese speeds up the metabolism as it contains high levels of protein and calcium. It can be added to salads or enjoyed as a dessert with berries.
- Quark cheese is an even healthier alternative to yoghurt as it contains less lactose and is lower in fat.
- Blue cheese is characterised by an intense flavour and aroma and a hint of sourness. Two of the most famous blue cheeses are Roquefort and Gorgonzola.
Now that you know a little more about cheese, you can eat them with a clear conscience, as you now know what a good cheese is, and which ones are the healthiest.
How do we celebrate cheese at Agust Barcelona?
What you need to know now is: Where can you enjoy a varied selection of delicious cheeses? At Agust Barcelona we offer you a variety of rich and healthy cheeses that you can try and share with your family, friends, or partner.
In addition to the Parmesan cheese, which you’ll find in our delicious duck magret, our menu features a table of a select cheese variety, which you can share with your partner, your colleagues, or your friends whenever you want. The careful selection of cheeses means that we always have the best cheeses and healthy cheeses. Moreover, it will be our pleasure to recommend you the wine that goes best with our cheeses. So don’t hesitate to stop by Agust Barcelona to start your evening off right: with a delicious and healthy cheese board and a carefully selected bottle of wine.