“Can you help me find blue cheese to crumble on top of a salad?” “I don’t like blue cheese, but this recipe I’m making calls for it. What should I do?” “My husband loves blue cheese and I want to buy him some. No thanks, I don’t want a taste (Yuck!).” “Can I get one that’s not too stinky?” “How long will it last before it goes bad?” “I would like a blue cheese to complete my cheese plate, what do you suggest?”
We’ll take on the queries one at a time:
Blues to crumble are readily available. If you’d like U.S. blues try Maytag from Iowa to add a subtle but creamy tanginess or Point Reyes from California which has a sweet, clean and fruity flavor.
Other favorites are Danish Mycella-heavily veined and salty, Italian Gorgonzola Piccante-deep blue in color and zesty or Spanish Valdeon: cow and goat’s milk combined: earthy and robust. If you really want to go all out with super blue intensity use Carles’ Roquefort from France. The choice is yours!
Picking Blues to be used for cooking can be tricky. It really depends on what you’re making! For barbequed Delmonico steaks, boneless chicken breasts or burgers I recommend Gorgonzola Dolce. Its sweetness meshes perfectly with the hearty meat juices. Add a little cracked black pepper and put the A1 back in the refrigerator! For sauces try creamy blues like French Saint Agur or Fourme D’Ambert.
Unless you know what kind of cheese your hubby likes and you don’t want to taste it, I usually recommend Spanish Cabrales, English Colston Bassett Stilton or Stichelton; the raw milk “Stilton” if he likes to indulge in Ports, hearty red wines, robust beers or single malt Scotch. A less aggressive choice would be Chiraboga or Verde Capra if he’s a goat’s milk fan. Don’t worry, I won’t ask you to try it!
I’ve never really understood how blues got the reputation for being “stinky”. Maybe when you place them directly in the hot summer sun they’ll become odorous but besides that they’re usually rather pleasant, Serve them with apple, pear or melon slices to add sweetness to offset their pungency.
Blue cheeses won’t go bad….they’ll just get moldier! Unless, of course they get cross contaminated and then they become garbage disposal bound!
Usually I don’t recommend blues for cheese plates unless specifically asked. When they are requested I offer Bleu de Basque, a mild, cake-like sheep’s milk blue from the Pyrenees which seems to be suitable for even the pickiest of non blue cheese eaters. Make sure you have plenty of red and white grapes as well other dried fruits and nuts to complete your cheese plate masterpiece!
When asked for my own personal preference it’s always Rogue River Blue from Oregon when it’s available. This cheese is a succulent delight; individually hand crafted with cow’s milk that has beautiful blue veining, wrapped in pear brandy soaked sera leaves that give it a perfect balance of sweetness and earthy blue overtones. I patiently await its arrival to help cure my own “summertime blues”!
By Bill Bowles, Cheese Specialist at Di Bruno Bros. Ardmore Farmers Market