ORLANDO, Fla. – Chef and writer Anthony Bourdain once said, “You have to be a romantic to invest yourself, your money and your time in cheese.”
In the Orlando area, we have a few folks with a fondness for fromage – powerful bleu cheeses, nutty goudas, creamy bries, crumbly goat cheeses and more.
Over the past few years, people like Tonda Corrente at La Femme du Fromage have helped cultivate a passion for cheese in the Orlando area.
“When I finally actually opened, you know, it was a really special time, you know, and there was really nobody in this town doing anything even remotely related,” said Tonda, whose little cheese shop has been at East End Market in the Audubon Park district has a wide selection of cheeses by the pound. “And, and so now, it’s been eight years that I’ve been open and it’s been a fantastic journey.”
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In honor of National Cheese Lovers’ Day, Tonda shared her six cheeses to try in 2022. After she whets your appetite, check out the six locations around the Orlando area to find these cheeses and more.
1. Rogue Creamery, Oregon – Brutal Blue
“It is a three-year raw milk blue cheese. That’s the oldest blue cheese I personally have ever had. And it is stunning. And it is in your face. And it is fantastic. It’s for serious blue cheese lovers.”
How should you eat it?
“On your finger with a very rich, dark chocolate truffle? You know what I mean? Like something really sweet and really rich and also really fudgy and that fudginess kind of matches the texture but that salty pungentness going against that sweet? Oh, so good. And then a sweet, like a sweet wine like a port. A port would, all of that would be just like a party in your mouth. A port, a dark chocolate truffle, that blue cheese. Oh, yeah. Yes. Yes.”
2. Sardinia, Italy -- Moliterno al Tartufo
“So it’s a sheep’s milk cheese. It’s from Sardinia and it is aged for a year before they inject it with a black truffle paste. And then they age it for another six months while they rub it with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Oh, it’s sharp and it’s salty. And that truffle is, again in your face. Really, really great.”
How should you eat it?
“It’s a great grating cheese. It’s what you would want to put on top of your grits, on top of your French fries, or your roasted potatoes, on top of your pasta, on a flatbread, on a pizza, on a mushroom. Anything, on a salad with arugula and mushrooms, the balsamic like it’s fantastic.”
3. Jasper Hill Farms, Vermont – Willoughby
“It’s cow’s milk, really soft, creamy cheese. Kind of like a brie-like texture if you will, but the outside of the rind has been washed… definitely smells like feet, kind of funkiness on the cheese and it is outstanding. So, so good.”
4. Corsica, France – Casanu
“So the Casanu and the Willoughby are both very similar cheeses. Both are washed rinded, one is cow’s milk and one is sheep’s milk.”
How should you eat them?
“Both would be outstanding melted on crusty bread, or in a flatbread with caramelized onions and bacon. Its funkiness is perfect to be served warm and gooey.”
5. Basque region, France – Le Napoleon
“There’s so many sheep that live in the Basque region. And this is a really lovely, creamy, nutty, natural rinded cheese that is just absolutely stunning. It was one of my favorite finds of, I’d have to say of last year. I think I found it last year. I think that’s the first time I got it and I was absolutely blown away.”
How should you eat it?
“Sheep’s milk has a higher butterfat content to than all the others. So it really translates in your mouth is something that’s just really silky with texture. Really creamy, really rich, and just a really great melter. So yeah, you could put that, you could do anything with that. I mean it’d be so great, you know, also chopped up in a salad, it would be you know, great shredded into anything. It would really extend not only flavor but texture and any kind of like melty cheese combination that you’re trying to do.”
6. Baetje Farms, Missouri – Goat cheese hearts
“They do beautiful hand wrapped little fresh chubs of goat cheese in a heart shape and especially going into like the Valentine’s season and they have a lemon curd.. Bavarian lemon curd goat cheese that is, it tastes like cheesecake. It is so, so good. And then we also have a dark chocolate raspberry goat cheese from them and it is stunning.”
How should you eat it?
“Those little heart-shaped fresh chubs are just lovely, you know on an English muffin with your tea in the morning. I mean, it’s just -- or flip that around to do that for dessert. I mean, it’s just yeah, so, so, so good. And then there’s tons of applications, any way that you would have an application with goat cheese. I mean, a cranberry orange little goat cheese ball wrapped with some crushed pistachios in a salad, you know is going to be absolute money.”
6 places to find cheese in the Orlando area
Looking for more cheese to play with in 2022? Here are six places in the Orlando area for turophiles to satisfy their cravings.
La Femme du Fromage – East End Market, Orlando
Tonda Corrente has made cheese her life and has poured all her knowledge into this little shop at East End Market. On top of the cheese selection that you can take home and try, La Femme du Fromage also has a menu of cheesy goodies –cheese boards and boxes, flatbreads, salads and grilled cheese sandwiches. For National Cheese Lover’s Day, the store is offering a new product called Fromageables (like Lunchables), with cheese and chocolate and wine pairings. They’ll also be doing Grilled Cheese Happy Hour through the weekend, and other specials.
Lake Meadow Naturals – Ocoee
This farm in the middle of Ocoee is well-known for producing local meat and eggs, but now the farm has a small store open seven days a week. One of the centerpieces is a cheese section with over a dozen varieties, all handpicked. You’ll also find cured meats, homemade jams, fruit and more to stock your grazing boards.
Petty’s Meat Market – Longwood
Petty’s has been around since 1979. This butcher shop is well-known for its wide selections of meats (including exotic meat), but it also has a large section of domestic and imported cheeses, along with cheese spreads. There’s an extensive deli selection to help you find the perfect complements to your cheese selections, along with a large wine section for pairings.
Bites and Bubbles – Orlando
A great date night location in the Mills50 area of Orlando, Bites and Bubbles offers diners a wide selection of plates to nosh on and an expansive cheese menu that changes constantly, depending on what the owners can get in. Choose a few different types and create your own cheese board, or order their charcuterie board. If you’re not looking for cheese on the wedge, owner Eddie Nickell says you can find cheese in most things they serve. And to wash it down you’ll find a decent wine list which will include, of course, bubbly.
Wine Room on Park – Winter Park
Some days you just want to spend your time tasting a bunch of wines and sampling a bunch of cheese. For those days, there’s The Wine Room. The Wine Room features a tasting system for its wines – buy a wine tasting card, which acts like a debit card, and step up to their state-of-the-art machines, which will dispense different types of wine depending on how much you want. Then sit at a table and order off a menu that includes more than five dozen types of cheese from around the world.
Morthan Cheese – Plant Street Market, Winter Garden
Roasted potatoes, a coating of freshly melted cheese, a sprinkle of bacon. If sounds like paradise to you, heaven is a booth at Plant Street Market in Winter Garden. Morthan Cheese is a purveyor of raclette, a stinky cheese from the Alpine region of France and Switzerland that is popular melted over all kinds of things. They serve it over potatoes, pretzel bites, brussel sprouts, in sandwiches, and more. The owner says they got through 15 wheels of raclette cheese a week on average, with each wheel weighing 12 to 14 lbs. The biggest item on the menu is called “European Tradition” – prosciutto, potatoes, vegetables and raclette cheese melted over it. They say it’s a “little bit of everything.” Wash it down with a beer from nearby Crooked Can Brewery.