15 of the World's Most Expensive Cheeses

istock collage
istock collage

There's so much more to the wonderful world of cheese than your typical grocery store brick would suggest. Thousands of artisan cheeses around the world are produced via their own intricate and labor-intensive processes, which create complex and stunning flavor profiles. There are many wonderful American-made and imported fine cheeses that won't break the bank … but none of those are going to appear on this list. Below are 15 of the world's most expensive cheeses. Many are incredibly rare; their decadent ingredients make them a fromage fiend's dream (but your wallet's worst nightmare), and give the term "indulgence" a whole new meaning. 

1. Beaufort D'Ete // $45 per pound

Also known as the Prince of Gruyères, this alpine hunk is the stuff that fondue dreams are made of. Produced from raw cow’s milk, this melts perfectly on anything and has a hazelnut finish. It’s also been around for centuries.

2. Gorau Glas // $20 to $40 per pound

This won a Gold British Cheese award in 2002 and was acknowledged as the priciest British cheese out there. It’s a soft, small batch blue that is made using a labor-intensive process in Wales. 

3. Rogue River Blue // $40 to $50 per pound

Truly the crown of Oregon, Rogue River Blue is a smoky, creamy blue that’s been aged in pear brandy-soaked grape leaves. Not only are its ingredients divine, it is also very seasonal as it’s made from raw summer’s milk (hence its hefty price tag).

4. Winnimere // $30 to $45 per pound

Kate, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This ooey gooey wonder won Best of Show at the 2013 American Cheese Society conference. When it comes to expensive cheese, this one is actually relatively affordable. One spruce-wrapped wheel costs about $45 and includes the wintry seasonal flavors of berries, smoked meat, and forest.

5. Cacio Bufala // $45 per pound

Buffalo’s milk has around twice the fat of cow’s milk, so it produces some of the creamiest cheese in the world. This cheese is made with time-tested techniques and aged 8-12 months in the caves of Casa Madaio. It has a delicate, buttery flavor and melts in your mouth.

6. Jersey Blue // $40 to $45 per pound

Originally from the UK, Jersey cows produce milk with a very high level of butterfat content, which makes this cheese, manufactured in Switzerland, especially fudgy and creamy in texture. The blue bite is balanced out by the raw milk's earthy flavor.

7. Epoisses by Germain // $45 per pound

It might be one of the stinkiest cheeses on the planet, but it’s also one of the most famous. Don’t let the stench fool you: inside the orange-washed rind is a runny masterpiece that tastes like the earth it was made from. This particular wheel is rinsed with Marc de Bourgogne, which is a brandy made from nearby vineyards in France.

8. Lord of the Hundreds // $15 to $20 per pound

Lord of the Hundreds hails from East Sussex and is made from local sheep’s milk. Like many sheep’s milk cheeses, it is slightly dry and sharp, but has an overall nutty flavor. It is rustic, approachable, and made by people who really know their cheese.

9. Old Ford // $50 per pound

This firm, earthy beauty has elegant floral notes and just the right amount of bite. Since goats yield far less milk than cows do, their cheese is often made fresh and young. However, Old Ford is aged and pressed to perfection by hand. It’s time and labor-intensive, but totally worth it.

10. Caciocavallo Podolico // $50 per pound

Though the name translates to “Horse Cheese” in Italian, it’s actually made from the milk of a very rare breed of cow called the Podolica. The cows also happen to munch on wild strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and more, which give the cheese its distinct flavor.

11. Extra Old Bitto // $150 per pound

China is the place for some of the world’s most expensive and oldest cheeses. The Bitto was purchased by a Hong Kong importer and was made in 1997. Since most Bitto is aged for 10 years, this particular stock is extra rare.

12. Wyke Farms Cheddar // $200 per pound

Cheddar is a classic, a staple of any pantry. It makes sandwiches taste better, pairs perfectly with most beers and wines, and is the perfect snack. Wyke Farms turned one of the most traditional cheeses into something extraordinary by infusing it with gold leaf and white truffle.

13. White Stilton Gold // $450 per pound

This is as opulent as it gets. The folks at Long Clawson Dairy first made this cheese for the Christmas season, and it's now a favorite among celebs. It’s made with real gold flakes and gold liqueur.

14. Moose Cheese // $455 per pound

To find cheese that’s worth nearly $500/lb, you’ll have to go to Bjursholm, Sweden and visit the Elk House, which is the only place in the world that makes moose cheese. In fact, the cheese is made from three domesticated moose named Gullan, Haelga, and Juna. Together they yield about 600 pounds of cheese per year.

15. Pule // $576 per pound

This crumbly delicacy comes from Serbia and isn't made from the milk of a cow, goat, sheep, or buffalo ... it comes from a donkey. It takes 25 liters of donkey milk just to make one kilogram of cheese.

10 Things You Might Not Know About Wine

iStock/MarkSwallow
iStock/MarkSwallow

Between the vine and the liquor store, plenty of secrets are submerged in your favorite bottle of wine. Here, Tilar J. Mazzeo, author of Back Lane Wineries of Sonoma, spills some of the best. Here are a few things you might not know about wine.

1. Digital eyes are everywhere in today's vineyards.

Certain premium estates in Bordeaux and Napa are beginning to look a little more like army bases—or an Amazon.com warehouse. They’re using drones, optical scanners, and heat-sensing satellites to keep a digital eye on things. Some airborne drones collect data that helps winemakers decide on the optimal time to harvest and evaluate where they can use less fertilizer. Others rove through the vineyard rows, where they may soon be able to take over pruning. Of course, these are major investments. 

2. Modern vineyards also bury a lot of cow skulls. 

They’re not everywhere, but biodynamic farming techniques are on the rise among vintners who don’t want to rely on chemicals, and this is one trick they’ve been known to use to combat plant diseases and improve soil PH. It’s called Preparation No. 505, and it involves taking a cow’s skull (or a sheep’s or a goat’s), stuffing it with finely ground oak chips, and burying it in a wet spot for a season or two before adding it to the vineyard compost.

3. Ferocious foliage is a vintner's secret weapon.

The mustard flowers blooming between vineyard rows aren’t just for romance. Glucosinolates in plants like radishes and mustard give them their spicy bite, and through the wonders of organic chemistry, those glucosinolates also double as powerful pesticides. Winemakers use them to combat nematodes—tiny worms that can destroy grape crops.

4. Roses in a vineyard are the wine country equivalent to the canary in the coal mine. 

Vintners plant roses among their vines because the flowers get sick before anything else in the field. If there’s mildew in the air, it will infect the roses first and give a winemaker a heads-up that it’s time to spray.

5. Birds of prey help protect the grapes.

Glasses of red wine and charcuterie
iStock/Natalia Van Doninck

Small birds like blackbirds and starlings can clear out 20 percent of a crop in no time. But you know what eats little birds? Big birds. Falconry programs are on the rise in vineyards from California to New Zealand. Researchers have found that raptors eat a bird or two a day (along with a proportion of field mice and other critters) and cost only about as much to maintain as your average house cat.

6. Small bugs become big problems in wine tasting rooms.

Winemakers are constantly seeking ways to manage the swarms of Drosophila melanogaster that routinely gather around the dump buckets in their swanky showrooms. You know these pests as fruit flies, and some vintners in California are exploring ways to use carnivorous plants to tackle the problem without pesticides. Butterworts, sundews, and pitcher plants all have sweet-sounding names, but the bug-eating predators are fruit fly assassins, and you’ll see them decorating tasting rooms across wine country.

7. Wine needs to be filtered. 

Winemaking produces hard-to-remove sediments. Filters can catch most of the debris, but winemakers must add “fining agents” to remove any suspended solids that sneak by. (Unwanted compounds in the wine bind with the fining agents so they can be filtered and removed.) Until it was banned in the 1990s, many European vintners used powdered ox blood to clean their wines. Today, they use diatomaceous earth (the fossilized remains of hard-shelled algae), Isinglass (a collagen made from fish swim bladders), and sometimes bentonite (volcanic clay). Irish moss and egg whites are also fine wine cleaners.

8. Wine is ever so slightly radioactive (that's a good thing).

About 5 percent of the premium wine sold for cellaring doesn’t contain what the label promises. So how do top-shelf buyers avoid plunking down serious cash on a bottle of something bunk? Most elite wine brokerages, auction houses, and collectors use atomic dating to detect fraud. By measuring trace radioactive carbon in the wine, most bottles can be dated to within a year or two of the vintage.

9. MRIs can determine the fine from the funk.

Even with atomic dating, there are certain perils involved in buying a $20,000 bottle of wine. Leaving a case in the hot trunk of your car is enough to ruin it, so imagine what can happen over a couple of decades if a wine isn’t kept in the proper conditions. Back in 2002, a chemistry professor at University of California at Davis patented a technique that uses MRI technology to diagnose the condition of vintage wines. This technique may soon be used at airport security, meaning you’ll be able to carry on your booze.

10. Wines can be aged instantly.

If you end up with a bottle of plonk, Chinese scientists have developed a handy solution. Zapping a young wine with electricity makes it taste like something you’ve cellar aged. Scientists aren’t quite sure how it happens yet, but it seems that running your wine for precisely three minutes through an electric field changes the esters, proteins, and aldehydes and can “age” a wine instantly.

Taco Bell is Opening a Taco-Themed Hotel in Palm Springs This Summer

Taco Bell Corp.
Taco Bell Corp.

For some, having a Taco Bell and its cheese-filled menu within driving distance is enough. For others, only a Taco Bell destination vacation will do. This August, the popular fast food chain is going to convert an existing Palm Springs, California, hotel into a burrito-filled Taco Bell getaway for a limited time.

The Bell Hotel will have all the usual amenities—rooms, food, gifts, and a salon—operating with a taco-themed cosmetic facelift. The nail salon, for example, will feature Taco Bell-inspired nail art. (Though we're not entirely sure what that consists of—possibly nails that resemble hot sauce packets.) The gift shop will feature Taco Bell apparel. Guests can also enjoy the standard variety of Taco Bell menu items. According to Thrillist, some new additions to their line-up are expected to be unveiled.

The as-yet-undisclosed hotel in Palm Springs will be operating as a Taco Bell partner for five nights total. As with pop-up stores and other publicity campaigns, the expectation is that guests will share their bizarre Taco Bell resort experience on social media and create some buzz around the brand. Taco Bell is no stranger to audacious marketing, as in the case of their Taco Bell Cantina in Las Vegas, which books weddings. Recently, the company also began making home deliveries via GrubHub.

The Bell Hotel website is now accepting sign-ups so fans can be notified when reservations open. The facility is expected to open August 9.

[h/t CNBC]

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