Who was the person that you and your husband first told about your little bun in the oven? Your Bestie? Your Mom? Well Rick and I told Patrick. Patrick was the Cheesemonger (or Fromager, if you’re fancy) at our local D.C. Whole Foods before we had our first baby, Clare. He had been helping us pick out delicious hunks of cheesy goodness for the past year and knew in an instant by our tame selections that something was up. If you are knocked-up cheese-lover like me, here is a selection of five pasteurized hard cheese from around the world (er, Europe) that you can enjoy safely while you count down to delivery.
Click here to see what I selected with the help of the friendly cheese department at Central Market in Southlake, TX. But you don’t have to take my word for it, stop into your local gourmet food store and talk to the experts. They love to talk cheese, share their knowledge and hand out yummy samples. So fun!
Let’s start in Holland with Old Amsterdam Aged Gouda, the hands-down, go-to cheese in our house.
It’s described as “smooth, rich and creamy, easily slice-able and imbued with tiny bursts of ripening crystals that excite the palate, offering a beautiful depth of sweet and savory flavors that range from butterscotch and whiskey to walnut.” This goes with everything from thinly sliced onions to fruit to dry salami(when not pregnant, sad).
Next let’s head to Spain for some Manchego. I love this with something sweet like a fig jam or fruit dessert. Keep an eye on the label for this one, some are pasteurized (what you want) and some are raw (what you don’t.)
“The rind is closed, clean well engraved, of a yellow to a brownish beige color. The interior is firm and compact, closed, with a few small air pockets unevenly spread. The color is ivory to pale yellow. The taste is very characteristic, well developed, but not too strong, buttery and slightly piquant, with an sheep milk aftertaste.”
I was surprised by how many of the Italian cheeses were raw/artisan (unpasteurized.) We were limited in our options for this region so I tried something new here and found a favorite in Balsamic BellaVitano. I usually steer clear of “flavored” cheeses but the Cheesemonger convinced me that it was delish and it was sooo good. The balsamic was not overwhelming. We ALL loved it. This would be great served with a platter of Italian delights like olives and dried salami(when not pregnant.)
“Made by Sartori Reserve’s Master Cheesemakers, the cheese is soaked in premium Italian balsamic vinegar to create a harmonious balance with the sweet, rich and creamy attributes of the BellaVitano Cheese.”
And we can’t do a round-up of hard cheeses without an English cheddar. This new-to-me cheese, Ford Farm Coastal Mature Cheddar is a little more smooth/mild than my favorite, Neal’s Yard Montgomery’s Cheddar which is sadly not pasteurized. I like my cheddar best in the Fall with a crispy apple.
“Coastal is a Farmhouse Cheddar with one notable exception; the cheese maker starts with swiss cultures giving the cheese a wonderful earthiness. As the name suggests, this cheese has sea salt crystals added during the maturing process to give it a unique sea flavor. It is billed as “rugged mature cheddar” and that seems a perfect description. Aged only 15 months, Coastal Cheddar has a perfect flavor.”
From there, with Jarlsburg, we decided to throw in a Swiss that you can find almost anywhere. It’s well-priced and a comfortable place for your less-risky guests to rest on a cheese plate. I like my Swiss cheeses best, melted in a bowl, with chunks of crusty bread served on the side (read: fondue) Yum, how good is fondue?
“Jarlsberg cheese is a hole-ridden, mild cheese that resembles Emmentaler and Gruyere in flavor and texture, but with a splendidly sweet, nutty and fruity aftertaste, perfect for a table cheese or a superb sandwich. “… or melted in a bowl served with chunks of crusty bread served on the side.
Now call a few friends and invite them to sneak out of the house for a little Mommy’s night in. All you need to make it a party is a bar of good chocolate, a tin of nuts, a jar of olives and a bottle of wine (or two for the non-pregnant.) Make it a feast with a few chunks of good cheese, a loaf of bread, some dry salami(again, for the non-pregnant variety) and a tasty sweet spread like Fig jam, Quince Jelly or Honey.
But tell me, what am I missing? What’s your favorite pregnancy-safe cheese? I don’t want to hear about your runny puddles of raw cheese deliciousness, that’s just mean. Your answer could win you a 1/2 yard of Nicey Jane oilcloth, as could any comment you leave this week, so give us your thoughts!
• Although we made every effort of present a well-informed selection, as always, you should check with your doctor if you think any food (in this post or in the comments) might not be good for you while pregnant.
Yay for Holland! I'm so happy to be dutch cheese-wise, I'm not too fond of the runny kinds.
I was going to say that one of my favorites is Roquefort, but after some googling it turns out the real thing is made with raw milk, so that's not an option. There are alternatives though, like the danish blue cheese, and these are often preggo-proof but you will need to check (and unfortunately slightly less tasty).
Good luck with your pregnancy!
havarti was my special treat cheese when I was pregnant. yummm…
Oh, how I love me some Jarlsburg.
Load me up on feta, my friend. (The pasteurized grocery store variety, of course.) Preggo or not, I'm sure it's the cheese of the gods. Because, you know, I'm sure they love them some crazy salty cheese. Mmm.
Congrats to YOU! I'm a Feta junkie (pasteurized, of course!) and I currently have a nine pound container from Gordon Food Service in my fridge! Yum! That reminds… I should go grab a hunk!
Ahhh cheese, one of my loves. This selection looks amazing.
Question though… I was told salami should be avoided when preggers? myth or not?
I love me some mizithra with noodles and brown butter. This post makes me want a big hunk of cheese BAD but I think all that's in the fridge is some Kraft Singles. 🙂
Thanks for this post – not pregnant but this is really great information for the future! Can't wait to read the comments!
I'm not pregnant at the moment but I do love cheese. Aged Gouda is my go-to these days. I also love Dubliner. And brie. After Thanksgiving I love to make a turkey, cranberry sauce, and brie quesedilla. Or a grilled cheese with sliced apples and brie. Mmmmmm
A friend and I were at a food and wine show last year when we tried Maple Cheddar… an epiphany! Dry, almost-but-not-quite crumbly, and softly sweet with maple. It is delightful with crackers and is unlike any cheese I've tasted – almost a dessert!
EG- told you NOT to talk about BRIE! HA! I can't wait to eat soft cheese again, sigh.
Feta lovers-you are so right, I can't get enough these days! mmm salt.
Jacinta-You should not eat salami while pregnant. I've added some notes to make that clear. Isn't that the most tragic thing ever? And all I want to eat is Italian subs.
When I was pregnant with Mary Clare, I had pasteurized brie with apple wedges for dinner on an almost weekly basis. And as I neared the end of my pregnancy, I threw in a mini baguette for good measure. So weird that I packed on the LBs …
I love Dubliner Irish White Cheddar (and was happy it was pregnancy proof–cheese is my favorite). It has those yummy crystals that burst in your mouth. So delicious!
Wow, I am so uneducated in the cheese department! But come to my house and I serve up a mean platter of Kraft singles:) My husband is quite cheese obsessed though. He anticipates that one day I will come back from the grocery store with the huge wheel of aged cheese…
this is my favorite pb post yet.
even i can cut the cheese…
Soft goat cheese (which may not be the best for a cheese tasting, but hey–I love it!) Spread it on a sandwich, melt it in a sauce, put it on a cracker with some orange slices… Pregnant or not, I love it!
not only do i love the cheese suggestions, but i love the idea of serving yourself a cheese platter so beautifully arranged.
p.s. i totally ate salami while pregnant. i would heat it up to kill the listeria, then cool it off. but i'm not recommending that for anyone. i'm just saying.
this post is amazing. thank you!
also a havarti lover. I can't lie though, I still ate unpasteurized hard cheeses when pregnant. It was local and very trustworthy.
I <3 cheese always and 4eva! It's true. I think I'm addicted. Only in the last month of pregnancy did my husband and I think to speak to the Cheesemonger. He safely selected a feta and I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
I love cheese…but while pregnant I didn't observe all of the do's and don'ts (don't's? dont's? whatever) of pregnancy eating. My midwives said just don't go crazy, so I didn't, I ate all things calmly and in my right mind 🙂 even sushi. I was a little safe because I didn't eat the "no no" foods as much as normal. These cheeses sound great, pregnant of not! Glad you found some safe ways to feed your habit 🙂
A a current preggo….I really can't get enough Tillamook Special Reserve cheddar. Aged 2 years, white, and so delicious. Plus, it's virtually lactose-free, which means I can enjoy it post-birth! (All my kids have had lactose issues from birth…so sad! BUT, it means more good, hard cheeses in the house 🙂
I too didn't totally drop all of the "not while pregnant foods" when I was pregnant. I don't think I bought any non-pasteurized cheese myself but didn't turn it down if someone offered me some. How about goat cheese though? That's usually pasteurized I think!
I love hard Italian cheeses like Parmesan and Pecorino Romano. I didn't really think to check to see if these were pasturized or not, even though I am preggers at the moment. I guess the "hard cheese" category would catch it, and I was desperate to use up some of my garden basil as pesto – yumm. Jarlsburg is also a favorite. Decent cheese is definitely a splurge in our grocery budget, but one of our favorite ones to make.
cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeese! gotta love it!
I couldn't tolerate dairy. I used soy substitutes. I can't really recommend any to someone who loves regular cheese–they are an aquired taste.
The best part of the experience was discovering Nutritional Yeast Flakes. They have a cheesy flavor and tons of nutrients. I still add them to pasta sauces, boxed mac and cheese, and other cheesy foods to give my picky kids a bit of extra nutrition.
Vermont smoked cheddar was a rampant craving when I was pregnant. It is amazing melted on a triscuit.
Man cheese is the best! Havarti dill is THE greatest. It knocks out the cheese craving and the dill craving. I think I'll be sending my husband on a pregnancy craving shopping trip this evening!
wow, i'm starving right now. cheeeeeeese!
These all look delicious! You'll be happy to hear a study came out in April that says it is actually no longer necessary for pregnant women to avoid soft cheeses. For one thing, all soft cheese sold in the US is pasteurized, by law. Also, the higher standards and surveillance of foods at grocery stores means that contaminated food is no longer a prevalent risk. Here is a blurb from Kellymom that links to the full article on it: http://kellymom.com/blog/2010/04/15/motherisk-update-food-borne-illnesses-during-pregnancy/
Now I'm going to have to go to Central Market to get some cheese! I loooove smoked gouda. It is fantastic in grilled cheese or just eating slice after slice. (I get mine at Sprouts in Southlake.) I also love Havarti. Mmmmm…cheese!
I'm not really the cheese kind of person. It was the sushi-chef who first found out we were pregnant!
I don't know much about being preggo but gruyere is my all time favorite and Congrats!
I love cheddar and now with the nitrate free lunch meats and hot dogs out there, sounds like a good sandwich or chili cheese dog would be in my future. Not pregnant though.
I looovvvveeee cheese. When I was preggers with Lily (girl #4, whew), my mom and I made a trip to Little Italy in NYC. It's my fav place to go when I visit her. The food market was in full swing so there were delicious smells all around me invading my senses. We stopped to samples some amazing cheeses and amazing crusty pieces of freshly made bread. Then all of a sudden, out of NO WHERE, I get a slap on the backside! When I turned around, there was this little Italian grandma trying to tell me something in Italian. The man at the cheese counter exchanged some words with her and explained to me that I should not be eating the cheese because I was pregnant. So there I was, standing with a big hunk of yummy cheese sitting on a piece of even yummier bread, mouth still open, but now with a look of saddness in my eyes. My mom took the cheese from my hand and thanked the "sweet old lady." I must have had a pitiful look on my face because the little lady then took the sample from my mother, flicked the cheese off, and shoved the bread in my STILL opened mouth. "Eat!" she demanded. So I chewed the bread. lol It was good. Of course it would have been better with cheese but oh well. The little Italian grandma had a look of satisfaction on her face and gently patted my cheek. Before I knew it, I bent over and gave her a big ol' hug. Every bad thought that enter my head (come on! I was 8 months preggers and hungry) disappeared that very moment. Gotta love the "ol school" grandmas. 🙂
I drank raw milk and ate whatever the hell I wanted in the cheese department, while I was pregnant, as long as it was organic. Although I tend to be a defiant bad ass in general, the reason I drink raw milk and eat raw cheese, even while pregnant, is for my health. Check out westonaprice.org.
Feta was my fav! Thanks for this post.
My husband and I told his sister first, since she was visiting with us the week I took a pregnancy test. It looks like you are missing the crackers and wine, but wine is obviously not an option right now. I craved cheese all the time while I was pregnant, goat cheese. It's my favorite. It was one of the only things I could keep down.