Cheese, who doesn’t like it? There are such people, it turns out, especially when we enter the “blue” territory. And since today is a blue Monday, it is a must.
Blue cheese is very polarizing – you either love it or hate it. Such a phenomenon presumably can have a lot to do with the incredibly pungent smell of most blue cheese varieties. They are also often quite salty, sharp-tasting, and sometimes so acidic that they pack a solid punch! All of those (un)desirable characteristics mean that blue cheese goes well, or “pairs well” to put it fancier, with a plethora of different foods. However, it also means that those who prefer not to be assaulted by their food often leave such delicacies stranded on their charcuterie boards. On the other hand, to the true aficionados of blue cheese, there’s nothing that beats consuming a bit of Roquefort or Gorgonzola smeared on their crackers.
Why blue is blue and what it means
I mentioned the two kinds not without any reason. They are the most popular ones, it seems. When you think of blue cheese, either of the two comes to mind. While they are truly fine representatives of the whole blue cheese kind, there’s more where they come from. Since they come from one family, many blue cheeses tend to share some characteristics, like texture, aroma, or flavor. Moreover, the process of achieving the mold marbling inside is quite repetitive – you need to add a special (and safe to eat!) type of mold bacteria to the milk or curd. Then, the mold needs to make contact with oxygen to get its greenish-blueish color. Therefore, the cheese-makers create air tunnels inside the cheese by stabbing it with skewers.
Nevertheless, as in any family, members of the blue cheese one also have some distinctive features. Actually, there are a plethora of various kinds of blue cheese, and some are surprisingly very dissimilar to one another. Just look at the infographic posted here!
The big three – Stilton, Roquefort and Gorgonzola
As I mentioned before, those are the most popular kinds. What is more, their names are geographically protected. You can find them virtually in every bigger store, no matter where you are.
Hailing from the southern parts of France, Roquefort is characterized by its blue veins and crumbly texture. The taste is quite salty and slightly acidic, with a sharp and tangy aftertaste.
Gorgonzola, on the other hand, is made in the Italian town of Gorgonzola from cow’s milk. Depending on its age, it could be milder or more pungent. To describe its tasting notes, many use such words as nutty, tangy, and creamy.
What’s ironic about the British Stilton is the fact that it has never been made in Stilton, but in a town nearby. The creamier your Stilton is, the better its quality. It should have a mellow, a bit salty, and nutty flavor and a pungent aftertaste. Best served at room temp!
Perhaps the least blue out of all blue cheeses is Irish Cashel Blue. It’s semi-hard in texture, and wonderfully creamy and mild, gentle even, in flavor. It’s a perfect choice for beginners.
Still milder than Roquefort is Danish Blue, sometimes also called Danblu. This one is made from cow’s milk. Like in other cases, this one is also bitter and salty, but to a lesser degree. If you have a more sensitive palate, this one might be for you.
Aside from Roquefort, France can also boast about their dense and creamy Fourme D’Ambert. This is the blue cheese that could persuade some of the haters that not all blue cheese is aggressively flavorful and aromatic. Some describe its taste as a bit eggy, rich, and slightly nutty. However, it is primarily smooth and creamy. Reportedly, it tastes almost like reduced heavy cream.
The Spanish have their Valdeon cheese made with cow’s or goat’s milk (or a mixture of those two). To reach the maturity point, this soft-in-texture cheese needs around 2 months. It is cylindrical and usually covered with plágamo leaves. The inside is light yellow and white and speckled with greenish mold. When it comes to the taste, it’s rather strong, salty, and spicy, but at the same time, very buttery. Sometimes it can even be a little bit burning.
In Germany, you can encounter a moist and deliciously spreadable Cambozola Black Label, a blue similar to a brie. It’s sweet, nutty, and has a slightly stronger “blue taste” that the classic cambozola cheese due to a longer aging process.
American blue cheese dream
You have probably noticed already that as many as five out of the fourteen kinds of cheese featured on the infographic are from the USA. Also, in those cases, the names refer not to the region or state in which they are produced but to specific creameries.
Prairie farms caves of Faribault St. Pete’s select (whoof, quite a long name, right?) is named after the type of sandstone that forms the caves. It is tart, creamy, and earthy. Moreover, it has some pecan notes in its flavor. This cave-aged blue is crumbly when cold, but becomes more spreadable at room temperature.
Point Reyes Original Blue is a versatile blue made with raw cow milk as well as microbial rennet. Its sweet, buttery, and a bit peppery flavor is almost sure to win you over, even if you are not a blue cheese aficionado. In contrast, Maytag Blue cheese might not be for everyone due to its semi-sharp flavor with a lemony finish and pungent odor.
Another buttery cow’s milk blue is Bayley Hazen Blue. Curiously, it is made primarily with morning milk (allegedly it tends to be lower in fat). Considering the texture, it is firm and slightly drier than that of many blues. Flavors are complex and multi-layered. Apart from the typical blue cheese zing, it also tastes of butter, chocolate, and even licorice.
Let’s end on a high note, shall we? The last one I will describe is Rogue River Blue, the first American cheese to be crowned the best cheese in the whole wide world! It’s organic and produced from cow’s milk by hand. Each wheel is encased in Syrah grape leaves that have been soaked in Creek Pear Brandy. Boozy cheese? Why not!
I hope that this article will help you find a blue cheese for yourself. I mean, this Monday is the perfect day to consume a bit of blue. Have you tried any of them already? What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!
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