NCheeseAA Round Of 64: The Grocery Draw
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9 Port Wine spread vs. 15 Government cheese. The Velveetoid brick of government-issue "cheese food" does have its (somewhat embarrassed) adherents, who, since it's an anonymous internet poll, will no doubt rally to its defense, but in the end, I predict that the orange-and-maroon tox-in-a-Parkay-cup Port Wine spread wins this budget face-off without much trouble.
16 Cheese curds vs. 5 Boursin. Ah, the Midwesterners out there will rally hard for the orange and squeaky State Fair food that is the curd. Peeps north of Minnesota will also cheer on the necessary ingredient to that odd and awesome fries-and-gravy dish known as poutine, but is it enough? I don't know. French-invented Boursin has been a cheese-plate staple since the '60s and probably has seen quite a few glasses of Lancers in its herbed heyday. Moreover, Boursin is highly addictive, stuffs mushrooms fantastically, and is a picnic necessity. Cheese curds might be enjoying a boost due to retro appeal, but Boursin is the tortoise that will steadily bring this win home.
4 Bon Bel/Baby Bel vs. 13 EZ Cheez. Novelty cheeses: ffffight! Heh. Looking at this pair now, we might have mis-ranked them — the outcome really depends on how kitschy voters feel once we've rolled out the polls, but EZ Cheez could have a better chance than we thought. What EZ Cheez does not have is a wax shell, which can be reshaped and stuck to various surfaces in the home (preferably ceilings) for exasperated parents to discover hours later. It's not a bad cheese, either. Bon/Baby Bel, by a good margin.
14 Kraft Parmesan vs. 8 Cream cheese. Hmm: powdered "cheese" versus cream? Wow, toughie. Back in the day when it's all we had, that green can dumped on everything — from mom's spaghetti to Beck's pizza, there it sat, dry, unmelting, grainy, and did I mention dry? Given the options out there today, it's hard to fathom voluntarily choosing to go the powdered-cheese route. It's even harder to comprehend how the dry could ever beat out the creamy versatility that is a silver block of cream cheese. Whether you cheesecake it, bagel it, or drag Day-Glo Doritos over it, cream cheese has this one in the hopper.
11 Kraft Singles vs. 6 Polly-O String Cheese. Grilled-cheese purists could plant an unexpected flag for Kraft here. Both cheeses are overprocessed and overpackaged, but Polly-O is the superior snack…and is an actual cheese. I think it's Polly-O for the win, but a Singles victory wouldn't surprise me.
12 Soy cheese vs. 2 Gouda. Soy-based "dairy" products have made gigantic strides in the last ten years, and the gritty, soil-y quality once typical of dairy substitutes is no longer a problem. The fact that soy cheese is not a full-fat dairy product, and therefore does not have much of a taste, remains an issue, however, and besides, Gouda is the Leno of the draw. It's predictable, it's unthreatening, it's middle-of-the-road, it wins its time slot every night. Gouda is a final-four threat for sure; soy cheese is cannon fodder regardless of the match-up. Unless we see an influx of vegan contrarians, it's Gouda in a landslide.
7 ChÃ¨vre vs. 1 Vermont Cheddar. We'll just skip over the debate about whether the wetter, wax-wrapped, American cousin to my beloved bandaged-wrapped is even cheddar, and jump right into the match-up, 'kay? Like good ol' Parm, chÃ¨vre is a kitchen staple. It dresses up beets, peaches, tomatoes, and nearly any salad. Bubbling and baked crusty with a tomato sauce, the fresh and tangy goat cheese is creamy comfort food. But compared to the puritanical Vt. Cheddar, it's new and upstarty, and once again, it's got the baa-baa factor working against it for the goataphobes out there. Loath as I am to admit it, Vermont Cheddar has it in the bring-from-home-to-save-the-universe canvas bag.
10 Edam vs. 3 Monterey Jack. Ah, Edam: "the other Dutch cheese." Much more forgettable than its sharp sister, Edam can't hold a popularity candle to the smooth cheese that Monterey, CA monks were busy making in the 1800s. More points in Monty Jack's favor: it comes in a zesty range of flavors, and melts with supreme ease over Triscuits and quesadillas alike. Hopped up on jalapeÃ±o, Monty tells Edam to "eat it with relish!" all the way to the finish line.