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A platter with cheese and garnishes.

Top 100 Best High-End Cheeses and Online Suppliers

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"Nothing says holidays, like a cheese log." - Ellen DeGeneres.

"What happens to the hole when the cheese is gone?" - Bertolt Brecht.

"Age is something that doesn't matter, unless you are a cheese." - Luis Buñuel.

"How can anyone govern a nation that has two hundred and forty-six different kinds of cheese?" - Charles de Gaulle.

CHEESE is a food derived from milk that is produced in a wide range of flavors, textures, and forms by coagulation of the milk protein casein. It comprises proteins and fat from milk, usually the milk of cows, buffalo, goats, or sheep. During production, the milk is usually acidified, and adding the enzyme rennet causes coagulation. The solids are separated and pressed into final form. Some cheeses have molds on the rind or throughout. Most cheeses melt at cooking temperature.

Hundreds of types of cheese from various countries are produced. Their styles, textures and flavors depend on the origin of the milk (including the animal's diet), whether they have been pasteurized, the butterfat content, the bacteria and mold, the processing, and aging. Herbs, spices, or wood smoke may be used as flavoring agents. The yellow to red color of many cheeses, such as Red Leicester, is produced by adding annatto. Other ingredients may be added to some cheeses, such as black peppers, garlic, chives or cranberries.

For a few cheeses, the milk is curdled by adding acids such as vinegar or lemon juice. Most cheeses are acidified to a lesser degree by bacteria, which turn milk sugars into lactic acid, then the addition of rennet completes the curdling. Vegetarian alternatives to rennet are available; most are produced by fermentation of the fungus Mucor miehei, but others have been extracted from various species of the Cynara thistle family.

Cheese is valued for its portability, long life, and high content of fat, protein, calcium, and phosphorus. Cheese is more compact and has a longer shelf life than milk, although how long a cheese will keep may depend on the type of cheese; labels on packets of cheese often claim that a cheese should be consumed within three to five days of opening. Generally speaking, hard cheeses last longer than soft cheeses, such as Brie or goat's milk cheese. Cheesemakers near a dairy region may benefit from fresher, lower-priced milk, and lower shipping costs. The long storage life of some cheese, especially if it is encased in a protective rind, allows selling when markets are favorable.

A specialist seller of cheese is sometimes known as a cheesemonger. Becoming an expert in this field requires some formal education and years of tasting and hands-on experience, much like becoming an expert in wine or cuisine. The cheesemonger is responsible for all aspects of the cheese inventory: selecting the cheese menu, purchasing, receiving, storage, and ripening.

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    Cheese News, Reviews & Resources
  • Brie de Meaux.
  • Brie de Meaux - named the "king of cheeses" in 1815 by Talleyrand at the Congress of Vienna.
  • Brie de Melun.
  • BRIE DE MELUN - "Brie de Melun is said to be the ancestor of all Brie's, which originated in the region of northern France known as Seine-et-Marne. It was granted an AOC protection in 1980 that requires that the cheese be manufactured under strict guidelines for supreme quality. Brie de Melun is produced from either whole or skimmed, raw milk of cows grazing in the valleys of Seine et Marne and some departments of Aube and Yonne. It is semi-soft cheese inoculated with a Penicillium mould and aged in a cellar for at least 4-5 weeks. If the cheese is left to ripen for a longer period, say several months, it matures to a Brie Noir. "
  • Camembert.
  • CAMEMBERT DE NORMANDIE - moist, soft, creamy, surface-ripened cow's milk cheese. It was first made in the late 18th century in Camembert, Normandy, in northwest France. It is sometimes compared in look and taste to brie cheese, albeit with a slightly lower butterfat content than brie's typical 60% and 75% by weight.
  • France's favorite cheese is facing an 'extinction' crisis. Not everyone is worried - "Camembert's distinctive white rind is created by a fungus that scientists say is in increasingly short supply. When Napoleon first encountered a Camembert cheese, legend has it, he was so delighted he kissed the waitress who plonked it in front of him. Setting aside the inappropriateness of this gesture, the French emperor clearly recognized a winner."
  • Cantal cheese. Image Courtesy Coyau.
  • Cantal - uncooked firm cheese produced in the Auvergne region of central France. Cantal cheese was granted Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée certification in 1956. One of the oldest cheeses in France, Cantal dates back to the times of the Gauls. It came to prominence when Marshal Henri de La Ferté-Senneterre served it at the table of Louis XIV of France. Senneterre is also responsible for the introduction of Saint-Nectaire and Salers.
  • Charolais cheese.
  • CHAROLAIS - "The Charolais comes from the granite plains around the Charolles region of Bourgogne, near the Beaujolais vineyards, from which it gets its name. Its shape is a barrel with concave sides. It can be eaten fresh, slightly dried (demi sec) or very dry. Its artisan production varies greatly from farm to farm. radition calls for the Charolais to be made with goat’s milk. The richness of these plains produces a subtle savour of milk, and the saltiness and sweetness of its aroma is a pleasure to the palate. In this latter state it is in the category of strong cheeses. It is also greatly appreciated in the dry state. In the course of the first two weeks of maturing, its rind turns a blue/grey shade and is covered with blue/ white mould."
  • Crottin de Chavignol - the most famous goat cheese of the many varieties produced in the Loire Valley.
  • Époisses de Bourgogne.
  • Époisses de Bourgogne
  • Fium'Orbu cheese.
  • Fium'Orbu
  • LIST OF FRENCH CHEESES - French President Charles de Gaulle asked, "How can you govern a country which has two hundred and forty-six varieties of cheese?" There is immense diversity within each variety of cheese, leading some to estimate between 1,000 and 1,600 distinct types of French cheese. French cheeses are broadly grouped into eight categories, 'les huit familles de fromage'.
  • Maroilles cheese.
  • Morbier.
  • Morbier - semi-soft cows' milk cheese named after the small village of Morbier in Franche-Comté. It is ivory colored, soft and slightly elastic, and is immediately recognizable by the distinctive thin black layer separating it horizontally in the middle. It has a yellowish, sticky rind.
  • PÉLARDON - cheese from the Cévennes range of the Languedoc-Roussillon region. It is a traditional cheese made from goat's milk. It is round soft-ripened cheese covered in a white mold (à pâte molle à croûte fleurie) weighing approximately 60 grams, with a diameter of 60-70 mm and a height of 22-27 mm. Pélardon has benefited from Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) status since August 2000.
  • PICODON - goats-milk cheese made in the region around the Rhône in southern France. The name means "spicy" in Occitan.
  • Pont-l'Évêque cheese.
  • Pont-l'ÉvÊque
  • Roquefort cheese.
  • ROQUEFORT - one of the world's best-known blue cheeses.
  • Saint-Marcellin cheese.
  • Saint-Marcellin
  • Selles-sur-Cher cheese.
  • Tomme de Savoie cheese.
  • Vacherin du Haut-Doubs cheese.
  • Vacherin - cow's milk (French vache, "cow") cheese. Two main types of French or Swiss Vacherin cheeses exist.
  • Valençay cheese.
  • ValenÇay cheese - "Valençay cheese is an unpasteurised goats-milk cheese and is one of the classic French cheeses made in the province of Berry in central France. It is named after the town of Valençay in the Indre department. This cheese comes in two types: the one coated with wood ash and produced on farms is called Valençay Fermier while the other coated with vegetable ash and made in dairies or industries is called Valençay Laitier."
  • Boerenkaas cheese.
  • Edam cheese. Original photo by Yvwv.
  • Edam - (Dutch: Edammer) is a semi-hard cheese that originated in the Netherlands, and is named after the town of Edam in the province of North Holland. Edam is traditionally sold in flat-ended spheres with a pale yellow interior and a coat, or rind, of red paraffin wax. Edam ages and travels well, and does not spoil; it only hardens. These qualities (among others) made it the world's most popular cheese between the 14th and 18th centuries, both at sea and in remote colonies.
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