Monday, August 29, 2011

Cheese prices

Last week we did fruit prices. Today, cheese!

I wish I wasn't such a cheese-dependent American, because dang, that stuff is expensive here. I think we eat less of it now than when we lived in the US, but it still gets me every time I shell out seven bucks for 8 ounces of parmesan.

What else is on offer in the cheese aisle at Carrefour in the UAE?

A wide selection of ghastly mozzarella cheese, for one. And at $6.70/lb, no less! I tried a cheaper brand of this stuff on pizza once and it never really melted. It just got all shiny and goopy, and it was practically tasteless. The bar mozzarella is much the same. What I do now (I am obviously not too ashamed to admit) is wait for the good imported mozzarellas to almost expire, at which point Carrefour reduces the price by half. Then I buy about eight bags and store them in my freezer. I win.

The cheddar situation is similarly bleak. Thank goodness for Monte Christo brand - it's decent, and it costs roughly $5.60/lb. You can also get Kraft brand cheddar, and a white cheddar from Vermont, but they're more expensive. So yes, next time I go to the US I will be filling up as much suitcase space as I can with bars of Tillamook cheese.

Ah, Babybel mini cheese wheels. These are my concession to the idea of string cheese, which is available here but is sold individually for the equivalent of $1 per stick. Every once in a while, they sell it in "bulk" bags of 12 pieces for about $6.80. String cheese in the US is a convenient snack. For the price we pay here, it's more like a rare delicacy. Anyway, the babybel cheese are 1 dirham (27 cents) each, which I can live with. Also, it takes kids a long time to open up the shiny wrapper and the wax coating, and they love the novelty of it, which is a bonus.

Here's the story on Pepper Jack. I have only ever seen it at the Mirdif Carrefour. That's it. Spinney's doesn't even seem to carry it, at least not that I've noticed. An 8-ounce bar usually costs $4, which is prohibitive for us. But if I am diligent about checking, I can find almost-expired bars bundled in twos as you see above, selling for $4 total (half off). Today I bought four bundles of two and put the extra in my freezer. It's a bountiful Pepper Jack harvest!

Don't get your hopes up about anything more exciting than cheddar and pepper jack. Every once in a while I see something like Monterey Jack, or Colby, but that's about it. I have seen ricotta cheese on occasion, but never cottage cheese, which I don't think is a real cheese, but I wanted to mention it because man, I miss that stuff.

What about local cheese? Well, we love Haloumi but it's not super cheap either - maybe $4/lb? Cream cheese is also very popular over here, in jars and in tubs, so sometimes we get that.

There are plenty of European cheeses available (Gouda, Edam, etc.), but since they aren't any cheaper than the American stuff (and since, uh, I like the American stuff better), I don't worry about them.

Anyway, hooray for almost-expired cheese! The end.


Glenda The Good said...

Maybe I'm it, but I love these post! Thank goodness for a freezer and a savvy shopper! Do they look at you funny when they ring up your eight bags :)

Liz Johnson said...

Holy crap! No $3/lb. shredded cheese from Costco, eh? Man. I have a friend who makes her own mozzarella... want the recipe? :)

Lisa Lou said...

Oh wow! Good plan with the freezing! Man, just reading this made me really want some cheese right now. And scary about the shiny cheese not melting! haha!

Ariana said...

I just tried making my own mozzarella a couple weeks ago. It was fun! And it turned out nice. Like any fresh mozzarella you'd get here in the US. It melted nicely. It was very mild (no aging) but that's ok with me. It requires a gallon of fresh milk (pasteurized/homogenized..... but not ultrapasteurized), half a tablet of rennet, some citric acid, and a good thermometer. I followed the recipe that came with the rennet (Junket brand) and it was great.

Becky said...

So sorry. I would struggle with this, too--we like cheese a bit too much. I know I'm behind but I had to laugh at your Aug 5? post with the ET cover of Gale and Peeta. Hilarious. I saw a preview for the movie and wasn't impressed--I had the same thoughts about their portrayal of Peeta, he's certainly not my idea of a "tough guy". And I laughted out loud at the shirttail comment. Hollywood . . .

Katie said...

Tillamook cheese is almost as sparse here in Columbus, OH. But they sell it at Costco, thank heavens. So I guess it's not really THAT sparse.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Cheese prices have gone up noticeably this year. Yet I haven't seen any comments in the news about why it has suddenly shot up.

Kat Clark said...

I get what you're going through on the tiniest level. Luckily, we have Costco and regular Walmart so I can't really complain. I would die in the UAE. Cheese is at the base of my food pyramid.


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