Once I had decided to focus on a variation on a Bacon Cheeseburger, one of the toughest questions was what cheese? I was totally focused on cheddar, my favorite burger cheese, but I knew that what I sought lay somewhere in between a Keen's cheddar (which would be wasted on a burger) and a Land o Lakes piece of plastic.
So I needed expert help, and that meant Premier Gourmet, the place with the best cheese selection in town. And as Andrzejewski suggested, that is a horrible fate to be condemned to.
You see, the deli manager at Premier is a quite lovely lady named Amanda. Better yet, she knows her job and she knows her cheese. After a few pointed questions about what I was trying to achieve with the burger, the sweetness and smokiness of the bacon, the same of the mushroom ketchup, Amanda asked perhaps the most important question in the entire process of developing the burger - why cheddar?
What a great question! Why cheddar? I was focused on it because that's what I like on my burger, a slice good sharp cheddar - sharp enough to cut through the usual condiments. But this was a new playing field.
Amanda selected the first cheese and offered a sample. Marvelous. A flavor I had never contemplated. We spent the next twenty to twenty- five minutes sampling different cheeses - old friends and new. But, in the end I went with Amanda's first choice. The instincts of an expert are worth listening to.
The winner was Beaufort, a raw cow's milk cheese from the Savoie region of France. It is classic mountain cheese - think Gruyère on steroids. It has fruity sweetness, herbaceous notes, and a distinct tang that did all that I wanted from cheddar.
The bottom line, if you live in WNY and want cheese advice, go to Premier Gourmet and talk to Amanda. If you live elsewhere, it pays to get to know your local cheesemonger, and other purveyors. Every cook needs outside advice on occasion!