My group has whittled down a list of cheeses for use in our MDS project. (Our group name? Culture Club. Another of my suggestions.)
We picked the above based on three dimensions - milk source, region, and texture. These won't be made explicit when the tasting occurs, but we're hoping they are pulled out in the analysis. So theoretically, parmigiano and pecorino will cluster based on texture and region, which are the same, but perhaps not by milk sources, which are different. I'm skeptical that people can be that discerning, but it would be cool. I had a few more cheeses on the list, but we cut them out to keep the number of pairings down to a reasonable number. One of them, oaxaca, is a mexican cheese used in quesadillas and nachos. It's made by a stretching process similar to mozzarella, but melts much better, so it makes excellent queso dip. I hope to find some at Whole Foods or one of the markets in town. Another one that did made the list, brunost, accounts for 25% of all cheese eaten in Norway. I've never had it, but it's supposed to have a very strong flavor that some people love, some people hate.
One of my group members, Eila, let me borrow her copy of Steve Jenkins' Cheese Primer, an impressive 576 page tome.
I am fast becoming a cheese nerd (if such a thing exists). Like beer, wine, olive oil, and few other foods, cheese is made from surprisingly simple ingredients and yet thousands of varieties exist. How can you not appreciate a food that relies on bacterial cultures for flavor?