We're talkin' cheese

Pat McCarthy, owner of DeLaurenti Specialty Food & Wine, offers his tips on tiptoeing into the cheese world.

Tip 1: When in doubt, start soft. Soft cheeses are younger and tend to be more mild. Mid-soft cheeses are older and more flavorful. Firm cheeses tend to pack the bigger punch.

Tip 2: Try a cheese from each animal. McCarthy recommends trying cheese from cows, goats and sheep (and even yaks and buffalo) to get a sense of which variety you prefer.

Tip 3: Then, try the major varieties. Give blue cheese a shot before declaring you hate it. Also try gouda, gruyere, Camembert. Give gorgonzola a whirl.

Karen Gaudette, Seattle Times food staff; photos by Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times

"I'm a Camembert — soft, creamy, luscious. People call me a charmer because I'm such a hit at parties. They can't stay away, especially when there's crusty bread or fruit nearby." (KEN LAMBERT / THE SEATTLE TIMES)
"I'm Blue. Blue cheese that is. That's because not many folks seem to enjoy being near me. Something about my smell, they say. Some even call me too potent!" (KEN LAMBERT / THE SEATTLE TIMES)