Bleu de Basque
This is a sheep's cheese from the French Pyrenées. It's more mild and modest than many of its fellow blues, which makes it a good choice for inexperienced blue cheese eaters. (The mold factor on blue cheese can weird some people out, as can the very sharp taste of a robust blue.) I found it a bit firmer than most blues. A nice possibility for a basic or introductory cheese board, or for those not interested in overwhelming flavors. More here.
I got this cheese at New Seasons, unlike everything else on this board, in part because I was looking for Chimay Grand Cru cheese as a snack cheese for Rancho Lake, and they were out. The cheesemonger there recommended this St. Nectaire instead. The flavor was stronger than I expected, but it's a nice, serviceable cheese with lots of taste. It did not stand out for me, and I'm unlikely to try it again.More here.
An Oregon goat milk cheese with a wine infusion in the rind, this has a somewhat strong tang. Not goaty in particular, but enough to put off some casual eaters. Nice, firm body, would be good on crackers. Somewhat reminiscent of Drunken Goat.
One of my favorite blues, and a repeat at the cheese board, this mixed-milk Spanish blue was previously discussed here. Yum!
I really only have two rules when buying unknown cheeses. Nothing with fruit infusions (personal prejudice, that), nothing from the family of cheese-that-smells-like-feet. That tends to include to those very soft, runny French and Italian cheeses, for example. Caruchon really pushed my boundary -- I found the odor skanky. the_child insisted we sample it while at Pastaworks, and she was right. On the tongue, this French sheep's milk cheese has a very different profile than it does in the nose. Tasty, almost warm in affect, with a deep, mellow richness. A bit more description here.
A semisoft cow's milk cheese from Switzerland, this is a nice, plain cheese with a good flavor. Used in a traditional dish of the same name, it could easily be served in sandwiches or on toast, not even noticed for an artisanl cheese. Some more detail here.
A good triple cream, though we usually get Pierre Robert given the choice. the_child asked for this one. Nice starter cheese for non-cheeseheads. This French cheese was previously discussed here.