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Say cheese! Your guide to the dairy aisle

Try some of these tasty choices from cheese expert Max McCalman for your next sandwich or meal.
/ Source: TODAY

Throw out those individually wrapped slices of cheese! Max McCalman, cheese expert and author of “Cheese: A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Best,” visited “Weekend Today” to share some of his favorite cheeses that can be found in your local grocery store.

Fiscalini Bandaged Cheddar Cheese
The third generation of the Fiscalini family continues the livestock-raising and cheesemaking traditions of its Swiss ancestors. They make a number of cheeses, including a traditional farmhouse bandage-wrapped cheddar-style cheese that comes in 60-pound drums, 18-inches in diameter and 12-inches tall. The cheese is wrapped in cheesecloth and ages for 16 to 36 months.

  • Taste: This cheese is straw-colored with a firm, crumbly texture and a nutty, slightly smoky taste. It's more complex than most American aged cheddars. It won first place in its category in 2003 from the American Cheese Society.
  • Production: This cheese is made in Modesto, Calif., directly east of San Francisco Bay.

Montgomery's Cheddar
Montgomery's cheddar offers a complex spectrum of flavors and aromas with a touch of sweetness and the suggestion of a Sunday roast. It is truly the modern benchmark of all great cheddars.

  • Production: This cheese is made in Somerset, southwestern England.

Matos St. George
Mary and Joe Matos and their daughter, Sylvia, present the fourth and fifth generations of cheesemakers in this family. Mary and Joe immigrated in 1979 from the Azores to Sonoma County, California, and started their family farm.

  • Taste: This cheese is a cross between a cheddar and a monterey jack. It has a full, buttery, cream flavor with a firm texture. With age it becomes more tangy and crumbly.

Bayley Hazen (Blue Cheese)
A lovely shade of blue against a backdrop of a light cream-colored paste makes an elegant invitation to taste this particularly buttery cow's milk blue cheese.

The cheese is made with predominantly morning milk only. The curds are uncooked, and cut and stirred by hand. The cheese is then dry-salted with sea salt; a natural rind develops after 30 days, and the cheese ages for 3-1/2 to 4 months on the farm.

This cheese got its name from two Revolutionary War-era generals, Bayley and Hazen — who build the Hazen military road in anticipation of battling the English on a Canadian front, which never developed. The road, however, did lead to settlement of the area by colonists in the 1780s and 1790s.

  • Production: Jasper Hill Farm, Greensboro, Vt., in northeast Vermont

Colston Bassett Stilton
For the past three centuries, stilton has been known as “the king of English cheeses” and more recently “the king of the blues.” Stilton still remains the most requested cheese on the planet, and it's also the only cheese in Britain protected by legislation.

  • Taste: Its consistency is firm but moist, and it offers a rich, minerally tang. Its texture is buttery and its flavor is mellow, fruity, deep and syrupy.
  • Production: Colston-Bassett & District Dairy, Nottinghamshire, England (central England)

Valdeon is a fairly powerful blue cheese, saltier than stilton but not harsh or taxing. The taste of this cheese is complex, which may come from the inclusion of goat's milk — it is “mixed-milk'd.”

  • Taste: Semi-firm; it delivers a powerful and complex array of flavors with an underlying sweetness.

Vermont Shepard
It is rustic, uncomplicated, elegantly simple, hearty and incredibly delicious. It has a smooth, creamy paste that is simultaneously soft and dense. It is made from ewe's milk.

  • Taste: Aromatic and herbaceous, pleasingly full-flavored and profound but not overwhelming, revealing subtle layers of complexity with sweet, rich, earthy, nutty tones and hints of clover, wild mint and thyme as it melts in your mouth.
  • Production: Southern Vermont

Ossau-Iraty Pardou Arriou
Ossau-iraty is a large family of cheeses. It is a classic ewe's milk cheese. Ossau-iraty cheeses have a fine granularity to their texture and a nuttiness to their flavor with a balance of sweet and savory. Reminiscent of Parmigiano-reggiano or of a mountain-style cow's milk cheese.

You've heard of Don Quixote — man of la Mancha. Well, this is the cheese of la Mancha. Spain's best-known cheese, and most popular worldwide, it's also one of its most ancient. It is made of sheep's milk.

  • Taste: A young manchego cheese is mild and even somewhat bland — it's worthy of a sandwich cheese. The best aged manchegos develop depth of flavor with a pleasant bite and underlying sweetness characteristic of the finest sheep's milk cheeses.
  • Production: Southern Spain

Red Hawk
This is a fine American soft-ripened cheese. Red hawk is a well-balanced and complex cheese in several respects. Its aromas contain notes of chalk and hay; its taste is full-flavored, savory and almost beefy, with a long creamy finish. Its texture can be very soft and yielding. It is made with cow's milk.

  • Production: Made from organic milk at the Strauss family creamery in Marshall, Calif.

Although not as world famous as parmesan, taleggio is nearly on par with Italy's most famous cheese. Like parmesan, taleggio is substantial, nutritious and irresistibly delicious! It's a semi-soft, creamy and supple cheese, which becomes softer as it ripens.

  • Taste: A fine, ripe taleggio virtually shouts “sour milk!” Paired with a hunk of crusty bread — it makes a perfect snack or picnic lunch. The taste is sweet, mild, fruity, salty and slightly tangy, which intensifies, becoming full-flavored, buttery, beefy and pleasantly sour.

Pave d'auge
Pave d'auge is an ancient Norman cheese — originally the product of the Medieval monasteries in the area. The word “pave” means paving stone or slab — as in pavement. When you take a look at the shape of this cheese you'll immediately see why: the top rind looks like a paved road.

  • Taste: It's a semi-soft to soft, rich and flavorful cheese with a strong, woodsy flavor.
  • Production: Normandy, France

Humboldt Fog
This is a very nice and deservedly popular American cheese that reflects where it comes from — foggy conditions of northern California. Humboldt fog has a light, creamy, yet earthy flavor when young. And with age, it turns stronger and develops more complexity. This is made from goat's milk.

  • Production: Northern California

A traditional rustic cheese, it's firm, almost flaky, yet moist and smooth. When properly ripened, it melts on your tongue, revealing mild and herbal flavors to go along with a hazelnut aftertaste. Made from pasteurized goats milk.

  • Production: Catalonia, northeastern Spain

This cheese is also produced in Spain, in the western part of the country. It is also made from aged goat cheese.  Ibores is more gregarious than almost any cheese of its genre.

  • Taste: A semi-soft to semi-hard paste with small eyeholes. Its flavors are a little salty and acidic with earthy tones — and there's a hint of sour milk as well as hints of wildflowers.