Cheese Expert Guesses Which Cheese Is More Expensive and Explains Why | Price Points

In the premiere episode of 'Price Points', Epicurious challenges cheese expert and noted author Liz Thorpe to guess which one of two cheeses is more expensive. Liz breaks down parmesan cheese, goat cheese, gruyère cheese, feta cheese, and blue cheese. For each round of cheeses, Liz analyzes, smells, and taste tests before guessing which cheese costs more. Once the prices are revealed, Thorpe explains why one costs more than the other and how to make the different cheeses.

Released on 11/20/2017

Credits

Starring: Liz Thorpe

Transcript

00:00
I'm Liz Thorpe, and I'm a cheese expert.
00:02
(bright music)
00:05
That's really intense.
00:11
(bell dings)
00:16
Hard cheeses, right off the bat what I'm seeing
00:19
is that this cheese is very aged.
00:21
I can tell because it's kind of brown,
00:24
yellowy, dark in color.
00:26
And it's got these little white patches in it.
00:28
Which happens as cheese ages around a year,
00:31
they will get these little protein crystals in them
00:34
that make them kind of crunchy.
00:35
Also important is the rind.
00:36
So it's got this dark crusty exterior.
00:39
That means it's been aged out in the open air.
00:42
I'm thinking this is maybe and aged Gouda
00:45
or a really aged parmigiano-reggiano.
00:48
This cheese doesn't have the dark color,
00:50
doesn't have the little crunchy white crystals,
00:53
and it doesn't really have a rind.
00:54
It's the same all the way around.
00:56
I'm thinking it's definitely younger
00:58
and I'm guessing it's probably like a Parmesan style.
01:02
I'm gonna have to taste to find out.
01:04
(upbeat music)
01:07
This cheese smells really concentrated and really intense.
01:10
It's like a waxy like biting into a crayon
01:13
with little salt or sugar crystals in it.
01:15
This is definitely parmigiano-reggiano.
01:17
This one is totally different.
01:19
It's firm but it's creamy and it's almost sweet.
01:23
Kinda like cheese candy.
01:25
(dramatic music)
01:27
My guess is that this is Parmesan
01:30
versus parmigiano-reggiano.
01:32
I'm guessing A is the more expensive one.
01:38
Yeah, about twice as expensive.
01:42
So why would parmigiano-reggiano be twice as expensive
01:45
as American made Parmesan?
01:47
Parmigiano-reggiano is a regulated cheese.
01:49
For example, it can only be made in a few regions
01:52
around Reggio Emilia in Northern Italy.
01:54
It has to be made of raw or unpasteurized cow's milk.
01:58
And it has to be aged for a minimum of 18 months
02:00
in open air aging rooms.
02:03
It's turned, it's flipped, it's brushed by hand
02:06
and by weird robot machines that are really cool.
02:09
American Parmesan on the other hand
02:11
doesn't have any aging restrictions.
02:13
And it's actually aged in plastic.
02:15
I often go for Parmesan just because it's mixed in with
02:18
a lot of other stuff and I personally don't notice
02:21
the difference as much.
02:22
But if I'm using parm on top of something like a salad,
02:24
where I really get the flavor of the cheese,
02:27
I always use parmigiano-reggiano.
02:29
When it's front and center,
02:30
you really, really wanna taste the cheese.
02:35
So right off the bat,
02:36
this one is definitely a fresh goat cheese.
02:38
What that means is it's bright white.
02:40
Goat's milk is always whiter than cow milk or sheep milk.
02:43
And I can tell it's a fresh cheese
02:44
because it has no rind on the outside.
02:47
It's young, probably been made in the last couple of days
02:50
or the last couple of weeks.
02:51
This one on the other hand has this weird
02:53
brainy looking rind on the outside.
02:55
So it doesn't look like a brie,
02:57
but it's definitely got a molded or yeasty rind like a brie.
03:01
Definitely this one is more labor intensive.
03:03
(upbeat music)
03:05
I'm gonna start with A.
03:07
See it's totally different.
03:09
Doesn't really smell like anything,
03:11
which is actually a good thing.
03:12
You don't want fresh cheese to smell.
03:15
Definitely fresh goat cheese.
03:16
It's like cream cheese but tangy, lemony.
03:19
It's sticking to my mouth, I can barley talk.
03:21
B, I'm not so sure, we're gonna have to cut it open.
03:25
(upbeat music)
03:27
This is an aged goat cheese.
03:28
Kind of like a brie style.
03:30
Definitely stronger, smells kinda nutty.
03:35
I'm gonna guess this is about four to eight weeks old
03:37
because it's gonna take that much time to grow
03:40
this style of rind on the outside of the cheese.
03:42
A cheese like this could've been made by hand,
03:45
but it also could've been made by a machine
03:47
if you think about little goat logs
03:49
you buy in the supermarket,
03:50
they go right into their plastic wrap thing.
03:52
(dramatic music)
03:53
Okay, I'm going with B,
03:55
B is definitely the more expensive cheese.
04:00
Okay, it was a lot more expensive.
04:02
(laughs) I was right.
04:03
All that work makes this cheese five times more expensive.
04:07
And it's the reason why you generally cook
04:09
with this style of cheese
04:10
but you sit around with your friends
04:12
and eat this style of cheese.
04:16
This one is really hard
04:17
because these really look very much the same.
04:20
What I can tell is that they're the same style of cheese.
04:23
What are called cooked-pressed cheeses.
04:25
Cheese people call it an alpine style of cheese
04:28
made in the mountains.
04:29
I can tell that because they're not moist and creamy,
04:31
they're firm.
04:33
They're both aged.
04:34
They both have little white specs,
04:36
so they're probably about the same age,
04:38
probably about 10 months.
04:39
And they have a similar rind,
04:41
the rind is a little bit orange.
04:43
I will say one of the only visual differences
04:46
between these two is that this cheese is darker yellow.
04:49
That's usually a sign of grass fed cow's milk.
04:52
So cows that are eating only grass,
04:55
their milk is actually a deeper yellow color
04:57
from the beta carotene in the grass,
04:59
and it comes through the milk
05:00
and you can see it in the cheese.
05:01
I think I need to taste them.
05:04
(upbeat music)
05:07
I'm gonna start with A.
05:08
So it smells like cooked milk
05:10
like if you boil milk on the stove and roasted nuts,
05:12
and oniony smells like caramelized onions.
05:15
Those are all Swiss cheese alpine cheese smells.
05:18
(upbeat music)
05:21
I'm not there yet,
05:22
but definitely we're in the mountains somewhere.
05:25
I may be grasping at straws here,
05:26
but I'm guessing this is grass fed cow's milk,
05:29
which might mean something.
05:32
(upbeat music)
05:33
This one is much more complex.
05:36
It's got lots of fruity flavors.
05:37
It's very, very tender in texture.
05:40
It's a beautiful texture, it's like dough.
05:42
(dramatic music)
05:44
I think that this is Gruyere, Swiss Gruyere,
05:46
which is a very famous cow's milk cheese from the mountains.
05:50
But I am going to guess that this is the more expensive one
05:53
because I think it's grass fed cow's milk
05:55
and it just tastes amazing.
05:57
I'm going B, B is my guess.
06:02
Alright, I do know my stuff.
06:05
No, just kidding.
06:06
So this is a Swiss cheese.
06:07
This is definitely Gruyere.
06:08
And then this is a cheese that is made by a single farm.
06:12
This is ultimately the vote with your dollars choice
06:15
because this producer has chosen to make a cheese
06:18
from exclusively grass fed milk
06:21
and it is very, very expensive to do that.
06:23
Over in Switzerland, and in most of the EU,
06:26
there are a lot of government subsidies
06:28
that support traditional food making.
06:31
So why buy one over the other?
06:33
You can use 'em for the same thing,
06:35
they're both really delicious,
06:37
but here I would say, You spend more money
06:39
because you're voting with your dollars
06:41
and supporting this type of food production in America
06:43
is really, really important.
06:47
Okay, I love this comparison because pretty much anyone
06:50
would look at these and say, Oh, it's feta cheese.
06:52
But I'll tell you what I see right off the bat.
06:54
Two things, this one is really wet.
06:56
It's been packaged in brine, in salt water.
06:59
This one's kinda dry and crumbly looking.
07:01
And then the other thing I see,
07:03
is that this one is really, really smooth.
07:06
And this one is kinda rough looking.
07:08
So I actually think that this one is made
07:11
with a different type of milk.
07:12
(upbeat music)
07:14
So this is the dryer lookin' one.
07:16
It wasn't as wet and it's kinda crumby.
07:19
This one, the wetter one, is much smoother and creamier.
07:24
That's our milk difference I think.
07:28
It's super salty, but all I taste is salt.
07:31
It's like salty crumbs.
07:33
This one, this one smells like olives.
07:36
Like black olives.
07:38
And it tastes totally different.
07:40
(dramatic music)
07:41
Okay, so here's what I think is going on,
07:43
I definitely think that this is the more expensive one.
07:45
Real feta, real sheep,
07:48
real goat milk, costs more I think.
07:50
Am I right? Yes.
07:53
So the main reason Greek feta, traditional feta
07:55
is gonna be more expensive is actually because of the milk.
07:58
So it's made with sheep milk and goat milk.
08:00
It has to be, by Greek law that's how you have to do it.
08:02
American made feta can be made with any kinda milk.
08:05
And in this case it's made with cow's milk.
08:06
So small sheep make very rich milk
08:09
but they don't make a lot of it.
08:11
And it's expensive.
08:12
It takes considerably more sheep milk
08:14
to make the same amount of cheese.
08:16
But the difference in price isn't that huge with feta.
08:18
And so if there's a time to really splurge
08:21
and spend the extra couple of bucks, this would be it.
08:26
So here come the blue cheeses.
08:27
The difference between these two cheeses
08:29
is gonna be sort of the culmination
08:30
of all of the differences that we've seen
08:33
throughout all the styles of cheese.
08:34
Right off the bat I'm noticing some age differences
08:37
between these two blues.
08:39
So this one is lighter in color and you can see
08:43
it's more crumbly in texture.
08:46
The second thing,
08:47
you can actually see in the top of the wheel,
08:49
these little holes.
08:50
And that is how a blue cheese gets blue.
08:53
The cheese maker adds mold to the milk
08:55
during cheese making but in order to make the mold grow
08:58
you have to get air into the cheese.
09:00
And you do that by poking holes in the cheese.
09:02
This one is sort of smoother and denser.
09:05
I'm thinking this one has been aged longer.
09:07
It's sort of had time to meld together a little bit more.
09:10
It's sort of more marbled and less concentrated.
09:13
So I'm thinking this one might've been pierced by hand.
09:16
This one pierced by machine.
09:18
That's gonna make a big difference.
09:19
And then of course, this one is obviously wrapped
09:21
in some kind of leaf and I know of two blue cheeses
09:24
in the world that are wrapped in leaves.
09:27
I'm thinking there's something special going on
09:31
with this cheese.
09:32
I'm gonna taste them and find out.
09:33
(upbeat music)
09:36
Let's see.
09:38
This is like classic blue cheese dressing.
09:40
I need a wedge salad.
09:42
This is a really good kind of standard
09:45
American style blue cheese.
09:47
This one, you can see it's creamier,
09:50
it doesn't fall apart in the same way.
09:52
It has this really strong fruity smell.
09:55
It's just not all about salt and spice
09:57
the way that that typical blue cheese flavor is.
09:59
So that's kind of confirming my suspicions about cheese B.
10:04
(dramatic music)
10:07
I am definitely thinking cheese B
10:08
is the more expensive cheese.
10:10
And I think it is a singular cheese
10:12
that's made only by one farmer in the whole world.
10:15
That's my guess.
10:16
So let me reveal.
10:22
Yeah. It's also one of the most expensive cheeses I know.
10:27
So what makes it a 40 or I've even seen
10:31
it be a 50 plus dollar a pound cheese?
10:33
Versus a 15 or 16 dollar a pound cheese.
10:36
It's pretty much all the stuff I talked about.
10:38
It's aging, it's the fact that this is I'm guessing
10:42
a really well made but pretty machine made cheese
10:44
versus a very handmade cheese.
10:46
And it has to do with this leaf wrapping.
10:49
This is the, It's New Years, it's Christmas,
10:52
I'm gonna splurge on something
10:54
that I can only get once a year.
10:55
This is that cheese.
10:57
So it's Tuesday night versus special party cheese.
11:00
And that is what we're lookin' at.
11:02
So you can see that there's tons of choices
11:06
and cheese might seem expensive
11:07
but there are reasons behind that.
11:09
And I hope that you have a little bit more information
11:12
so that now when you go out to buy cheese,
11:13
you can decide what is the best cheese for you that day.