If you are looking for a buttery taste, with a bit of fruity aftertaste, Fontina is a perfect choice. However, if you like it a bit firmer, more pungent, and nuttier go for the Fontina Val d’Aosta, from Italy’s Aosta Valley. One thing to note, the latter variety is always made of raw milk. Whichever you get, this is a supreme melting cheese, although the rind has to be removed. If you’re not fond with the Fontina at all, Danish Havarti or a Dutch Gouda are other mildly tangy melters and will be fine as substitutes.
Gouda has a lower acidity than other cheeses. This comes from an additional step in its production called “washing the curd” in which warm water will replace whey in the cheese vat. As a result, Gouda has a “sweeter” flavor and a softer, chewy texture. The young Gouda melts brilliantly ,while the aged Gouda is perfect for crating. The latter one is often labeled as “aged,” but the younger varieties are often coated with red wax.
The Italian Asiago will come in two groups. “Pressato” or “Fresco” stands for the young, smooth and firm sort with a mild flavor while “D’allevo” or “Vecchio” Asiago is aged, dry and Parmesan-like. While the D’allevo version is an ideal grater, the Pressato will provide a smoother melt. Again there are alternatives available, including Monterey Jack and Colby.
When traveling Italy’s Lombardy region you may encounter a strange odor from some caves. This is because they are used in the cheese making process of the Taleggio Cheese. The cheese loafs are bathed in a brine during the aging process inside these caves. This will result in a washed-rind cheese with a pungent exterior. It’ll taste salty, nutty, and have pleasant doughy notes, and could be replaced with any other washed-rind cheese. But all of them should have the orange rind and might be a bit stinky, and pungent. But that’s what a Taleggio is about…
Known for its buttery heft and fruity pungency, the French Reblochon is rarely available outside of France, but there are similar cheeses available. One of them is the French “Preferes des Montagnes”. This, as well as an Italian “Robiola Bosina”, with its pudding-like texture, will work beautiful in the traditional dish tartiflette. When you don’t like it that hearty, go for a readily available Brie, this will result in much milder taste.
The technique used for making Provolone is called pasta filata, or “pulled curd.” It’ll result in a very soft cheese with a pleasantly ropy chew. When you use the aged, more dense and spicier version, you will get an even more intense flavor. Available in varieties, medium and sharp varieties are best when it comes to melting.
This cheese is probably best known as pizza topping. Balls of fresh mozzarella — packed in salt water — will provide the best taste, plastic wrap would be fine too, as long as it’s airtight. The low-moisture mozzarella you get in blocks is usually for grating. Because this cheese is so popular many stores offer locally made options.
The Cheese-Triangle wont be complete without a cheese from Switzerland. Made of raw milk from cows living on the alpine pastures, the Gruyere is probably one of the best melting cheeses. It’s one of the stars in French onion soup and classic Swiss cheese fondues. The best Gruyere will come from a small town in the hills in western Switzerland — named Gruyere — In fact it’s a hardly more than a castle with a medieval village and a dairy, but it’s just as nice as the cheese they make. If you’re not able to get your hands on original Gruyere, other Swiss brands or French Comte will provide substitutes.