The Istanbulletin staff got together asked one of the more piercing questions that this generation faces: which is the best locally produced cheese? Our answers were transmitted through cheese-filled mouths, rather impolitely.
Two titans of the cheese game went shopping and, after much discussion, debate, deliberation and democratic bickering, eight cheeses were chosen to be chewed on by our champions. They were blindly given pieces of the cheese with an optional biscuit. Wine was served but with soda water as to not dull the senses and the game could begin.
Blue = Fiona
Guess: Fume Çerkez
Texture: Greasy yet firm. 3
Taste: Supposedly smoked, but if so, the only smoke fumes came when the guy delivering it lit up a cigarette. 3
Appearance: Pale yellow, with a sunset rind. All good. 4
Odour: Searched high and low for a smell. Couldn’t find it. 2
Eat if there is nothing else in the fridge. 12
Guessed as Fume Cerkez Peynir
Mild inoffensive cheese. Imagine it would give nice cheese pull when melted. Something your mother would use to fill out a tuna mornay or pasta bake. Slightly creamy. Looks are deceiving as rind suggests a lot of flavor but fails to deliver. Serve to people who are afraid of cheese (Turophobiacs – Ed).
Total score: 10/20
Texture: Mid-soft and a bit grainy- a good representative hard feta. 3
Taste: Salty but creamy, strong like a good sized but pliant goat. 4
Appearance: Wet and glistening, promising. 3
Odour: Only offensive when placed directly in the nostril. 4
This is a feta for the purists. Can be eaten cold as part of a Turkish breakfast, but really comes into its own when in tost. 14
Guessed as T Olgu
Creamy with a nice bite-y after taste, a versatile cheese. Tastes like a classic breakfast cheese. Could be nice when fried. Nice bright colour. Great in tost or on a salad
Texture: Firm with an affecting sheen of sweat. 4
Taste: Starts out a bit shy, but the secondary taste kicks hard with a definite musk. 4
Appearance: Looks like a typical cartoon cheese: loads of holes and a burnt yellow. 5
Odour: Smells like a nana. Is that good or bad? 3
If you love cheese, this will be your friend. 16
Guessed as Gravyer
Classic appearance of cheese (yellow and holy). Nice and hard texture with a bitey taste. Very strong, leaves a great lingering aftertaste. Would be nice served alongside other cheeses and some grapes. Not for lightweights.
Total 17.5 /20
Guess: Goat Gouda
Texture: Firm and confident. Offers something to the teeth before becoming more compliant. 5
Taste: Sharp at first but calms down with chewing and then transforms into something rather creamy. 4
Appearance: Misty grey, which could confront some people. 3
Odour: Has a fungal musk which is very alluring. 5
This cheese kicks some ass. Try it alone or with some grapes. A star for the domestic platter. 17
Guessed as Eski (Actually keci gouda)
Smells awesome! Like a soft parmesan cheese. Makes biting into large chunks of parmesan socially acceptable. Tastes aged and the texture has a lovely gentle crumble to it. Leaves you not wanting to drink your wine and savour the taste as long as you can.
Use as you would parmesan.
Total 18 /20
Texture: Stringy yet soft: like eating a bale of hay that was marinated in milk. 5
Taste: Round and fills the mouth. Lactastic. 5
Appearance: Bone-coloured and the strips of fibre are a delight. 5
Odour: Non-existent- though some people like it that way. 3
This is a cheese that should be in every kitchen: melts well, holds its own on a platter. But best used when hungrily sticking your head in the fridge. Just tear off a scrap and enjoy. 18
Guessed as Karagol Dil
Very moist, a bit like mozzarella but with a little more kick. Would be great with tomato, basil and glugs of olive oil.
Total 14.5 /20
Texture: Dry and sucks the wet out of your mouth like a unripe quince. 2
Taste: Like being dumped at the beach. Salty? Oh, yes. 1
Appearance: Looks like a fraulein’s braid, but don’t be deceived. All comparisons with frauleins end there. 5
Odour: Meh. 2
This cheese probably owes most of its trade to looking cool. I have no idea what it could go with or be friends with. Pitch it into an omelette if you find it lurking in your home. 10
Guessed as Savak Orgu
Nice presentation. Smells like an indoor swimming pool. Firm resistance when you first bite, then you are hit with salt, salt and an aftertaste of salt. It seems like this cheese makes up for its complete lack of flavour with salt. Serve if you need to jazz up a really boring meal with LOADS of fluid.
Guess: Van Otlu
Texture: Firm and springy. Bounces on the teeth. 3
Taste: Agricultural. The green parts must have seemed a good idea to the inventor, who patently dropped an average cheese in a pile of grass and got inspired. 1
Appearance: Looks like a good idea that shouldn’t have had any legs. 2
Odour: Unpleasant in innumerable ways. 1
This is a shitty cheese and should be punished vigorously. 7
Guessed as Van Otlu
Looks herb-acious, rustic and creamy or like it was make in a bathtub. Herbs stick in your teeth. Tastes very salty and a bit funky. Not for the faint hearted, I would advise not serving this cheese on its own.
Guess: Eski Kaşar
Texture: Soft yet firm, grainy in a deeply troubling way. 2
Taste: Reminds one of really eye-watering spew. Bile should never be a flavor in anything, apart from bile. 1
Appearance: Pale yellow, deceptively soothing. 4
Odour: Like a hospital. 1
Only eat this if the other option is Van Otlu. 8
Guessed as Kedi (actually Eski)
Grainy texture, with a strong after taste. Smells a tastes a little bit like stomach bile. Leaves a metallic aftertaste. Don’t eat on a hangover.
So in the end it was Tim who managed to guess all eight correctly while Fi stumbled. After failing miserably in the beer tasting Tim declared it was nice to “finally not be a loser” as he was handed a fake certificate by the Istanbulletin’s youngest member.
With beer and cheese out of the way what should the Bulletin taste test next? Leave your suggestions in the comments below, please.