Cheese on the cheap

Why does cheese cost a fortune?  I love trying exotic cheeses, but it’s hard to be an adventurous eater  when most cut pieces are prohibitively expensive.    And let’s be honest — pungent cheese can taste like a big musty foot, a risk I don’t want to run when my student budget rarely allows for such an extravagant expenditure.

A recent discovery has assuaged my fears:  the scrap cheese basket.  First found at Greenlife in Asheville, this little basket is filled with the tiny pieces that don’t make a beautiful presentation in the dairy case.  The quality is no different, and it really takes the pressure off committing to a foreign cheese.    In Greensboro, EarthFare has adopted the practice, and I picked up an inexpensive goat gouda (among others) that paired well with walnuts, dates, and cranberries.

Another easy way to save is to buy Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds, which still have plenty of edible cheese attached.  In fact, the cheese closest to the rind is the most flavorful, and with a microplane, there’s no trouble maximizing your cheese return.  When you’ve exhausted a rind, freeze it and use it later to flavor a vegetable soup or broth.  At Harris Teeter, the cheese counter will gladly sell you a container full for about $4.00 (approx. 1/2 a pound at $6.99/lb.), a great deal when you consider that the large wedges sell for $24.99/lb.


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