Friday, September 25, 2009

Say cheese!

Every now and then, we get into one of those moods where we're sick of eating. It sounds like such a snobby, nouveau riche comment but you know what I mean, right? You're tired of the same old limited repertoire of recipes and you've tried every single stall at your nearby coffee shop many times over. "What shall we do for dinner?" is met by groans from the children.

This was the scenario last Saturday and I had a sudden brainwave. Due to our recent obsession with the Facebook game, Mouse Hunt, our family had a resurgent interest in all things cheesy. Andre even asked me what SuperBrie - an imaginary premium cheese on the game - tasted like.

So I suggested doing a cheese platter for dinner - three types of cheeses with bread rolls and a simple salad. Such enthusiasm from the kids! Suddenly, dinner was interesting again.

Usually, we buy cheese from NTUC as it's really kindest on the pocket. Cheese is so expensive in Singapore, unless you want boring old cheddar. But if you want more variety and better quality, some of the larger Cold Storage stores have cheese counters are pretty well stocked.

We're not cheese aficionados so we stuck to what we knew. I bought a block each of camembert, boursin and blue cheese. Here's a picture of the packaging for those who might be interested in how they're sold. Generally, these boxed cheeses are cheaper than their cling-wrapped counterparts which are sold by weight.

We love, love, love boursin (garlic and herb flavour). It's a soft and creamy French cheese that's slightly crumbly - heavenly on bread or crackers. Camembert, another French cheese, is spongier in texture (you can slice it) but it's also very creamy and has a slightly bitter taste. It's very similar to Brie.

The blue cheese, we bought solely for Lesley-Anne. It has a very pungent and sharp taste, no one else in the family can stomach it! I have no idea how Lesley-Anne came to acquire a taste for blue cheese, it's like getting accustomed to durians, I guess. When people talk about smelly cheese, blue cheese is probably as smelly as it gets. Think stinky feet.

Here's what they look like unboxed. The yellow one at the far end is boursin, the blue cheese is the veined one on the right and the camembert is in front with a white rind.

I'm no cheese expert but if you want my layman recommendation, here it is: if you're a cheese newbie and curious about it, I suggest sticking to the milder types first. Cheddar is the mildest cheese around and always the easiest to try. I'm not referring to the common sliced cheddar by Kraft or Chesdale though, try the blocks and cut them into cubes. Very yummy as appetisers or as a snack.

Gouda (or edam) is pretty good, one step up from cheddar. Usually, we keep a block of young gouda at home and grate a mountain of it on the kids' spaghetti. Much tastier and cheaper than parmesan, in my opinion. Again, you can also eat it as it is, as a snack. Incidentally, you'll often find a label on a block of cheese stating that the cheese is "aged" or "young", eg "aged cheddar" or "young gouda". Very simply, the more aged the cheese, the sharper the taste.

From gouda, you can try camembert (or brie). I recommend putting off blue cheese for a bit unless you're feeling really adventurous! These are the types I know, if you make a trip down to the higher end supermarkets, you'll see hundreds of varieties. Try them and tell me which are your favourites!


Lilian said...

Yalah all your fault, now I'm hoooked on Boursin...I eat it on its sinful and yummy.

And also because of you (and Mousehunt), the boys love Gouda. Brian also likes Brie and Camembert. I like young Edam.

Sean saw me typing this and says Mousehunt even affects our 'appetite' (he means tastebud)..."now we eat cheese" :)

monlim said...

Who says computer games are not educational? You see, can enhance appetites too!

I'm sure cheese is much cheaper in Moscow so you'll have a great time trying new cheeses when you're back there :)

Anonymous said...

My kid loves cheese alot but we have been consuming the "safe" choices. With these recommendation, probably we can be more adventurous. As you said, since the cheese selections are not cheap, it is harder to go on trial and error, at least not at her age. I am waiting for the day she can go on a makan adventure with me :)

As for myself, I have probably tasted different types of cheese before during functions but never got to know the names!!! LOL


monlim said...

QX: I would love to think that I played a little part in making you a cheese convert! Try young gouda and boursin and tell me what you and your dd think :)

Elan said...

Now the penny drops!!
I was wondering why my sons were suddenly asking me to buy Brie, Camembert, Gouda and Edam and "less boring than cheddar and parmesan and mozarella" cheeses recently. They have been mousehunting too.(Brian's influence I think) ....*whack forehead* Thanks for enlightening me.
Another dinner idea for you, one of our favourites - cheese fondue. You can either make your own, or just buy pre-packaged ones from Carrefour. They have many different flavours. Even the regular bigger NTUCs have 1 brand of fondue (I think its "Tiger" which is quite good. REALLY easy. Before I bought my cheese fondue set from Takashima, I used a cheap chocolate fondue set even. At worst, just use any old pot with a few tealights underneath and satay sticks. All you have to do is buy a few different loaves of good bread, melt the fondue and if you're concerned about balanced diets, steam some hard veges like carrots. Dinner ready in minutes. For pure decadence, end up with chocolate fondue for dessert (need the vitamin C from the strawberries ;-).
I also recommend the housebrand Cold Storage cheeses (much cheaper) as a starter taster - taste pretty good to our unsophisticated palates.


monlim said...

Elan: LOL!! If I were a cheese company, I would sponsor Mouse Hunt.

We tried cheese fondue once but made from scratch following a recipe. Maybe because of that, it was too sophisticated for our taste (too much Gruyere I think) and quite strong so it became quite jelat after a while. You're right, the starter kits probably would be better. Of course we all love chocolate fondue!!

Lilian said...

Er Elan, your boys started Mousehunting well before Brian did, so it's definitely not Brian's influence, more the other way round haha! But eating more variety of cheeses is definitely a fringe benefit of this game. Even fussy Sean hankers after Gouda...Brian likes all the different cheeses but he hasn't tried Blue Cheese. Now if I can make my husband a cheese convert, my meal preparations can get easier...hmmm...quite an impossible task though...

elan said...

Hi Lillian,
Sorry, I thought it was Brian. I'm so blur about their mousehunting that I didn't know what was going on till I read Mon's post on it!


Lilian said...

No need sorry lah Elan...but your boys have been very quiet on the FB front recently. I think they gave up on MH. I'm on the verge of calling it a day too...getting boring at this stage.

ConfusedbydModelMethod said...

Hello Monica,

I hope you can help me with this math question with the model method. Lilian suggested that I consult you instead since you are the expert with the model method. Can the question below be solved with the model method?

If yes, can you please let me know how to solve it by using the model method?

There are 50 heads and 79 legs of 2 legged and 1 legged birds. How many 2 legged and 1 legged birds are there?

Many Thanks in advance!

monlim said...

A rather strange comment for a cheese post :P

Anyway, this question is quite easily solved using trial and error so I wouldn't bother using models. Not every question can or should use models. Basically, it's 50 birds, so you try any no, say 25 @ 2 legs = 50 legs + 25 @ 1 leg = 75 altogether. That's still a few short so you try 29 @ 2 legs = 58 legs + 21 @ 1 leg = 79 legs. tah-dah! (Of course might take the child a few more tries).

Of course unless some of the birds have 2 heads LOL! Are there actually 1-legged birds??

Puzzled by Puzzles! said...

I love Boursin too! Over here, imported brands are so expensive!

ConfusedbydModelMethod said...

Thanks for your reply. Sorry for putting this math question in your cheese post. So I guess this means the model method is not suitable for this sort of question. No, I don't think there are actually 1-legged birds. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...


Actually to solve these animal and legs, or vehicles and wheels, you don't need to use trial and error. There is a simpler method.

Take the 1-legged and 2-legged birds eg. First, there are 50 heads, meaning 50 birds. You give each bird one leg first, so you are left with 79 - 50 legs = 29 legs. These 29 legs belong to the 2-legged birds. So there are 29 2-legged birds.

Another eg. There are 13 cars and motorcycles. There are altogether 34 wheels. How many cars are there?

Again, you give 2 wheels to all the 13 vehicles first. Thus 13 x 2 = 26 wheels. Remaining 34 - 26 wheels = 8 wheels. These 8 wheels belong to the cars, thus 8 divide by 2 (since you need to give 2 more wheels to each car) = 4. So there are 4 cars.

Hope I am clear with the explanation.


monlim said...

T: Thanks! That's very clear. I understand your logic perfectly but I teach the trial and error method to Andre cos it's easier for him to understand :)

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