Who was the person that you and your husband first told about your little bun in the oven? Your Bestie? Your Mom? Well Rick and I told Patrick. Patrick was the Cheesemonger (or Fromager, if you’re fancy) at our local D.C. Whole Foods before we had our first baby, Clare. He had been helping us pick out delicious hunks of cheesy goodness for the past year and knew in an instant by our tame selections that something was up. If you are knocked-up cheese-lover like me, here is a selection of five pasteurized hard cheese from around the world (er, Europe) that you can enjoy safely while you count down to delivery.

Click here to see what I selected with the help of the friendly cheese department at Central Market in Southlake, TX. But you don’t have to take my word for it, stop into your local gourmet food store and talk to the experts. They love to talk cheese, share their knowledge and hand out yummy samples. So fun!

Let’s start in Holland with Old Amsterdam Aged Gouda, the hands-down, go-to cheese in our house.
It’s described as “smooth, rich and creamy, easily slice-able and imbued with tiny bursts of ripening crystals that excite the palate, offering a beautiful depth of sweet and savory flavors that range from butterscotch and whiskey to walnut.” This goes with everything from thinly sliced onions to fruit to dry salami(when not pregnant, sad).

 Next let’s head to Spain for some Manchego. I love this with something sweet like a fig jam or fruit dessert. Keep an eye on the label for this one, some are pasteurized (what you want) and some are raw (what you don’t.)

“The rind is closed, clean well engraved, of a yellow to a brownish beige color. The interior is firm and compact, closed, with a few small air pockets unevenly spread. The color is ivory to pale yellow. The taste is very characteristic, well developed, but not too strong, buttery and slightly piquant, with an sheep milk aftertaste.”

I was surprised by how many of the Italian cheeses were raw/artisan (unpasteurized.) We were limited in our options for this region so I tried something new here and found a favorite in Balsamic BellaVitano. I usually steer clear of “flavored” cheeses but the Cheesemonger convinced me that it was delish and it was sooo good. The balsamic was not overwhelming. We ALL loved it. This would be great served with a platter of Italian delights like olives and dried salami(when not pregnant.)

“Made by Sartori Reserve’s Master Cheesemakers, the cheese is soaked in premium Italian balsamic vinegar to create a harmonious balance with the sweet, rich and creamy attributes of the BellaVitano Cheese.”

And we can’t do a round-up of hard cheeses without an English cheddar. This new-to-me cheese, Ford Farm Coastal Mature Cheddar is a little more smooth/mild than my favorite, Neal’s Yard Montgomery’s Cheddar which is sadly not pasteurized. I like my cheddar best in the Fall with a crispy apple.

“Coastal is a Farmhouse Cheddar with one notable exception; the cheese maker starts with swiss cultures giving the cheese a wonderful earthiness. As the name suggests, this cheese has sea salt crystals added during the maturing process to give it a unique sea flavor. It is billed as “rugged mature cheddar” and that seems a perfect description. Aged only 15 months, Coastal Cheddar has a perfect flavor.”

From there, with Jarlsburg, we decided to throw in a Swiss that you can find almost anywhere. It’s well-priced and a comfortable place for your less-risky guests to rest on a cheese plate. I like my Swiss cheeses best, melted in a bowl, with chunks of crusty bread served on the side (read: fondue) Yum, how good is fondue?

“Jarlsberg cheese is a hole-ridden, mild cheese that resembles Emmentaler and Gruyere in flavor and texture, but with a splendidly sweet, nutty and fruity aftertaste, perfect for a table cheese or a superb sandwich. “… or melted in a bowl served with chunks of crusty bread served on the side.

Now call a few friends and invite them to sneak out of the house for a little Mommy’s night in. All you need to make it a party is a bar of good chocolate, a tin of nuts, a jar of olives and a bottle of wine (or two for the non-pregnant.) Make it a feast with a few chunks of good cheese, a loaf of bread, some dry salami(again, for the non-pregnant variety) and a tasty sweet spread like Fig jam, Quince Jelly or Honey.

But tell me, what am I missing? What’s your favorite pregnancy-safe cheese? I don’t want to hear about your runny puddles of raw cheese deliciousness, that’s just mean. Your answer could win you a 1/2 yard of Nicey Jane oilcloth, as could any comment you leave this week, so give us your thoughts!

• Although we made every effort of present a well-informed selection, as always, you should check with your doctor if you think any food (in this post or in the comments) might not be good for you while pregnant.

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