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Shredded Parmesan pleases the palate
By Kathy Saunders, Times Correspondent
Published November 7, 2007
Shredded Parmesan rankings:
1. GSF Primo Gusto
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Robust flavor, melt-in-your-mouth texture and a pleasant aroma were the qualities judges wanted to find in shredded Parmesan cheese.
Usually, stinky smells make for high-quality cheeses. But when it comes to Parmesan, Taster's Choice panelists wanted a less pungent aroma.
They sampled seven brands of shredded Parmesan cheeses and decided on one purchased in bulk at GFS Gordon Food Service Marketplace ($10.29 for 2 pounds).
Though most of them admitted to using what one panelist fondly calls "shaky cheese," they would always choose the freshly shredded if it was on hand.
Judges awarded 72 out of 100 possible points to the Parmesan from GFS called Primo Gusto.
The size of the shredded slivers was what sold them. The GFS brand was a bit thinner than the others and had a pleasingly smooth texture.
One judge described them as "cheesy snowflakes." Four of the five said they would make a trip to the market to buy the brand.
"This cheese is very light, very thin and very good," said one.
They also liked Kraft's cheese ($3.68 for 6 ounces at Albertsons), giving it 71 points. Three of the five said they would buy it.
"This would melt nicely in an Italian dish with macaroni or on a Caesar salad," said one panelist.
The Kraft cheese was a bit waxy for one judge, but the others were swayed by the sweet smell, nice size and pretty, white color.
"This is very tart - it has an assertive taste and a great shred," said a judge who especially approved of the color.
Another panelist said the Kraft cheese "looked like it should."
The Albertsons store brand ($2.50 for 6 ounces) was their third choice with 68 points.
The Albertsons cheese was too dry for one judge, but that's what impressed the others. Four said they will definitely buy the store brand, raving about its color and flavor.
"I feel like I'm back in Italy on the Appian Way on my way to Parma to get more of the cheese," said one panelist who detected a peppery flavor.
Another judge said the Albertsons cheese had the most authentic cheese flavor.
"It's the most like home-grated Parmesan," she said.
Also sampled were shredded Parmesan cheeses from Great Value ($1.98 for 6 ounces from Wal-Mart); Sweetbay ($8.99 per pound); Sargento ($2.38 for 5 ounces from Albertsons); and Argitoni ($7.63 for 24 ounces from Sam's Club).
Panelists were: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian with Pinellas County Cooperative Extension; Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620; John Hehn, foodie and owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design; aesthetician Jim Yockey; and St. Petersburg Times food critic Laura Reiley. All foods were tasted blind.