So what’s our favorite blue right now? It depends on which cheesemonger at Marché you ask.
Roquefort is a raw blue sheep cheese from Southern France and the second most popular cheese in France behind Comté. The overall flavor sensation begins slightly mild, evolves to sweet, then smoky, and fades to a salty finish. Why my favorite? Because it is the perfect ingredient for many of my much loved recipes. With its creamy, crumbly texture, it can be added to salads, potatoes, burgers, steaks and even served as a dessert cheese with apples, pears and honey.
For those of you afraid of blue cheese, Dunbarton Blue may be the cure for your blue cheese anxiety. This “blue” is different because it is a young cheddar that is pierced to allow oxygen in to spur the growth of blue mold. The cheese is then pressed so the mold stays in the channels created by the stainless steel needles. Blue cheese is not typically pressed; thus creating an open textured cheese perfect for blue mold growth. Dunbarton Blue is allowed to age for nearly four months in aging cellars on wood boards. The natural rind has an interesting look created by the outlines of where the curds have been pressed together. A mild punch of earthy flavors come forward and the finish is more like a drier, flakier cheddar than a blue. It has meaty, mushroomy flavors but maintains a balance.
The fourth generation of Roelli family cheese makers, out of Shullsburg, Wisconsin has found a new niche in making small batch artisanal cheese. Dunbarton Blue combines the greatness of a fine English Cheddar with the bite and creaminess of a French Blue. Try pairing it with a Pale Ale, Stout, Zinfandel or Merlot and you have a perfect match.
Bleu d’Auvergne was perfected after a lovelorn cheesemaker left his wheel in a cave to fend for itself while he pursued his love. Instead of spoiling, the natural bacteria of the cave aided in forming the well rounded, smooth, generously veined and creamy blue we know today. Through the years the practice of aging alongside rye bread, which develops and feeds the bacteria, as well as a technique called “needling” to deliver oxygen and bacteria throughout, perfected Bleu d’Auvergne into the ‘prince of blues,’ second only to Roquefort. A solid choice for the blue cheese beginner. Nothing to leave you frightened nor wanting more. Great for everyday to make a salad just that much better, or to enjoy with a nightcap of slightly dry, but sweet Riesling.
I love this story! Kicked out of England 300 years ago for religious differences, the Grubbs packed up and took to milling and butter making practices in County Tipperary, Ireland, where to this day Louis and Jane still keep the family’s dairy traditions alive. The Cashel Blue
story begins in 1938, when Samuel Grubb, newly married and returned from his travels in many parts of the world, buys Beechmount Farm from a childhood friend and begins to farm the land, a task carried on by his four children. When Samuel passes away, his son Louis returns to the farm in 1979 with his new wife, Jane, and the couple invest everything they have to buy a dairy herd of 90 cows. In 1984, the first Cashel Blue
is ready for the market. It is the very first Irish blue
cheese and, initially, it elicits almost as much bewilderment as excitement in the country. This cheese wins its first accolade that year, being awarded 1st place at the Clones Agricultural Show. The following year, they receive their first U. K. order from the prestigious Neal’s Yard Dairy, beginning a long-standing relationship between Cashel Blue
and the United Kingdom, a relationship that will be underscored when Queen Elizabeth II is served Cashel Blue
at a State Banquet to honor her historic visit to Ireland in 2012. Cashel Blue
is pasteurized, and ripened for two and up to six months. This exquisite cheese maintains a unique, voluptuous, creamy texture with a mineral undertone complemented by a delightful, mild blue
tang. My favorite way to enjoy this cheese is with a dry Riesling, strong beers, such as an Vertex IPA or a light and delightful OPP Pinot Noir.
Up in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont there is a farm that’s changing the way you think about American cheese making. Back in 2003 the Kehler brothers began selling their cheese, made in Greensboro, Vermont. Jasper Hill is a farmstead operation with a small herd of 45 Ayrshire cows. These cows are prized for their milk, which is high in solids content and has small fat globules, making it exceptional for cheese making. Their flagship blue cheese, Bayley Hazen, showcases the amazing raw milk of these cows. Named after the revolutionary war supply road that cuts through Jasper Hill farms, Bayley Hazen is modeled after British blues with natural rinds. This 7 lb wheel is aged for 3-4 months with a dense fudge like texture. Inside it shows well distributed blue veining, with a buttery white paste. Light pepper and butterfat fill your mouth as you take your first bite, then elevates to notes of grass and toasted nuts. Mild blue tang and a strong butter finish will definitely have you going back for another bite. When you get into that second bite, try it with a fruity full bodied red or a dark thick imperial stout. The flavor combinations will surely send you to the moon.