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Cheeses
 
TASTE KITCHEN
Sharp white cheddar cheese

One of the cheeses stands alone

You would think, with all the sniffing, that this was a wine tasting. Instead, seven brands of sharp white cheddar had our noses doing some detective work. The cheeses were aged anywhere from 60 days to 9 months, during which time they develop flavor and texture.

We ate them at room temperature with plain crackers, slices of crisp apple, and sparkling water. Several bites into the tasting, someone asked, "Don't you think this would go down better with wine?" The tasters seemed to want more from the cheeses; many brands didn't have the bite or the texture we expected. Several people found them "bland and rubbery." Cabot Cheese of Vermont came out on top, with comments like "nice crumble and tang."

These cheeses, of course, are intended to appeal to a broad spectrum of tastes. This might explain one comment about Cracker Barrel -- "I found this cheese satisfyingly bland." Unimpressed with the options, one person wrote this on her notes: "I am falling asleep over here, the whole world looks like one giant, pale yellow flavorless block. There is no more real food, only differently packaged lipids."

But the crew of seven woke up when they tasted Shaw's Wisconsin Sharp Cheddar. They showed outright contempt for this cheese. Several people looked as if they had tasted something bad; one person spit it out. When they were done, someone lined up the leftover cheeses, trying to decide which one would be good bait for a mouse trap.-- DEBRA SAMUELS

 
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