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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Keeping a Sharp Eye Out For City's Quality Cheese

On my round of Moscow shops last weekend, I found some items that had proved elusive -- real cheese.

Super Siwa was an unlikely source of that Anglo Saxon favorite, cheddar cheese. Cheddar was originally an English cheese made from cow's milk but is now manufactured in many other countries. The flavor, mild or sharp, depends on how long the cheddar has been aged.

One of my favorites, it is a versatile cheese for cooking, baking or serving with fruit, especially apples.

Siwa has some 170-gram packs of McCadam's cheeses for 19,450 rubles ($3.30).

They include sharp cheddar, appropriately from New York state and aged more than six months, a mild cheddar, pepper Jack and a Monterey Jack cheese with jalape–os.

I had been discussing Monterey Jack with some American friends, who were from the southwestern United States, a few weeks ago. They are fans of Tex Mex and other southwestern foods, and missed some of the ingredients, including Monterey Jack, so readily available in the United States.

The cheeses at Super Siwa are labeled "McCadam, Heuvelton, NY, since 1875." (I'm sure the cheese is fresher than this.) McCadam is a subsidiary of Valio, Helsinki, so let's hope it combines Finnish standards with American flavor.

Monterey Jack is one of the more than 2,000 varieties of cheese known today. Regardless of what animal they come from, all cheeses can be divided into two basic categories: natural and processed.

Processed cheeses are a recent development in cheesemaking, made from a blend of one or more kinds of natural cheeses with the addition of emulsifiers, water, cream and added flavors such as ham, fruit, nuts or spices.

These keep longer than natural cheeses and their nutritive value is virtually the same, but the unique character of the original cheeses is lost.

Natural cheeses can be divided into seven basic categories according to their texture or moisture content and the type of rind. Monterey Jack is a natural cheese of the semisoft variety.

These cheeses are lightly pressed to remove excess moisture and then washed, creating a slightly orangey-pink rind.

If left in cellars to mature, they grow a gray mold that is constantly washed or brushed off, producing a leathery rind that protects the cheese and allows it to develop without losing more moisture.

These are supple or elastic in texture with flavors ranging from a mellow to sweet-sour, more complex, taste.

Other members of this semisoft variety of natural cheeses include, Holland's Edam, French raclette and Port Salut, Italian Tallegio, New Zealand's Port Nicholson, Greek Kasseri, Irish Gubbeens and Milleens and havarti from Denmark.

Remember when storing cheese that it should be refrigerated, wrapped in waxed paper -- or anything greaseproof, if waxed paper is not available -- and placed in a plastic box to prevent it from absorbing the odors of other products, as well as to keep the cheese from drying out.

Waxed paper allows the cheese to breathe, whereas saran wrap will cause the cheese to sweat and may encourage mold to grow.

While at Super Siwa, I noticed substantial supplies of Worcestershire sauce. The Heinz brand costs 15,900 rubles for a 225-gram bottle. Worcestershire sauce is also available at Kalinka-Stockmann.

My other great find was at the wonderfully named Azbuka Vkusa supermarket on the Garden Ring near the Paveletskaya metro station.

The staff here was very helpful -- they had lots of staff making sure I didn't relapse into my old shoplifting habits. Although they didn't speak English, I had no difficulties shopping here.

At this supermarket, I found two kinds of McIlhenny's Tabasco pepper jelly, one made with hot red chilis and the other with mild, green jalape–os. This jelly is great served with jalape–o peppers, and I long for the day whole jalape–os are available in my local supermarket. At 49,500 rubles for a 283-gram jar it isn't cheap, but it is exotically flavorful.

I chose the Jalape–o Pepper Jelly, mild but delicious -- not unlike myself -- and will return for the hot and spicy red chili, more suited to my partner's palate.

Azbuka Vkusa, 8/18 Valovaya Ulitsa. Metro: Paveletskaya. Tel: 233- 1339. Open 24 hours a day.

Kalinka-Stockmann, 2 Zatsepsky Val. Metro: Paveletskaya. Tel: 233-2602.

Super Siwa, 9/1 Slavyansky Bulvar. Metro: Pioneerskaya. Tel: 445-0570. Open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.