Like the Christmas light displays found around the city and the Jose Mari Chan songs being played in the background, queso de bola (a.k.a.

Edam, though Filipino versions are said to be made firmer and saltier than the Dutch original to survive the long transportation and to satisfy the local palate) is considered a quintessential part of the Filipino holidays. But at roughly 200-500 bucks for a small (often 350-600g) ball—and only being sold as whole balls, which leaves you with no choice even when you’re only after a small portion—it can make a serious dent on the wallet. Processed cheese maven Eden’s new product looks to be changing that with their new Queso de Bola variant, a limited-edition version of their “processed filled cheese spread” purporting to taste like the classic ball-shaped cheese. It being of the processed sort, we were skeptical, but mostly curious: could it pass, even remotely, for the beloved ball cheese we know and love?

The Queso de Bola variant takes on a firmer consistency and more orange-leaning hue compared to regular Eden.

You won’t find any red wax on this one—only the standard wrapping of foil, within which you get a bar of processed cheese with a deeper shade of yellow that borders on being orange. It’s a tad more saturated than the paler yellow shade real queso de bola carries—but we imagine its creators deliberately went this route to emphasize its difference from the butter-like hue of regular Eden. The queso de bola variant also carries a glossier sheen and sharper cheese aroma than the latter, as well as a slightly firmer consistency that’s still pliable (as is characteristic of regular Eden), but which feels solid enough that you can cut a slice cleanly without it turning into mush.

You still get the milk-forward profile that Eden is known for, though this variant carries a touch more saltiness that dominates before the creaminess settles in. While its close-to-orange color might give the impression it’s meant to taste like cheddar (even of the processed sort), it lacks the more characteristic buttery tang of the latter; save for a very mild coconut-y aftertaste, this is really just straightforward Eden goodness with the intensity turned up a notch. That’s exactly what we love about it: it’s nostalgic and comforting in its buttermilk-y goodness, and the increased saltiness makes it infinitely more snackable with or without pan de sal. Yet it barely tastes of queso de bola, a cheese known not only for its salty punch, but also for its nutty, pungent qualities. This is not too surprising given its 59-peso/165-gram price tag, but the use of the queso de bola label (and limited-edition availability) feels forced—as if only to take advantage of the holiday season. Had we just been after a saltier processed cheese, there are other brands that equally (if not better) fit the bill, and which are available all year round.

The heightened saltiness makes for a great filling between slightly sweet pan de sal.

Get this cheese if you’re after the classic Eden taste dialled up a notch; it works better than the regular variant when you want the flavor of cheese to stand out, such as in cooking or in between two slices of bread. Don’t expect it to satisfy the specific yearning for queso de bola though—for that, nothing beats the real thing.

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