I know you think you hate blue cheese, and maybe you've made up your mind about that stinky slice of mould... But I'm here today, begging you to give me a chance to change your mind - you may just fall in love with a whole new world of flavour. I'll ask just this one question, do you like chocolate covered pretzels, caramel corn or chicken and waffles? If you answered yes, then blue cheese deserves your attention.
A few fun facts ~
- Blue cheese wheels are pierced with needles to allow air to penetrate the cheese and naturally grow mould, this also explains the 'blue veins' that appear within each slice.
- The saltiness of blue cheese is not coincidental. Salt is added to fight bad bacteria.
- Age is essential to understanding what type of blue cheese you will enjoy. To put it as simply as possible, younger blues = crumbly, older blues = creamy. (I told you I'd always cut straight to the chase).
As expected, there is more than just one type/style of blue cheese, in fact there are roughly seven. For this week we are focusing on the three that I think have the strongest potential to help you fall in love. As always, my tasting notes are attached to each photo.
I think its smart that we start with the most mild of the three, being this decadent gorgonzola from Trader Joe's. To kick off your blue adventure, we are going to add a whole lot of sweet and a little bit of spice. This gorgonzola is beautiful and mild, allowing some juicy red grapes and crispy pear to settle you in for an easy introduction to some funk. The spicy honey adds the perfect touch of sweet and spicy to accompany the fermented nature of any blue. Once you're ready to enhance your senses a little, add a pistachio and dried cranberry to your bite to start to develop more of the saltiness and jam like nature of the flavours.
Let's step it up a notch and take a bite of this beautiful Danish blue. My favourite thing about this slice is it's ability to be manipulated into a multitude of different flavour combinations. Too funky for you? Pair it with some sweet elements like honey or dates. More specifically, this bourbon honey did an excellent job at toning down the harshness of its bite with its syrupy nature, whilst also keeping it on the savoury side with its slightly oaky elements from the bourbon. Looking to experience more of it's ripeness? Try it with some sea salt dark chocolate or roasted almonds to enhance its saltiness and funk. Either way, this danish blue can become whatever you need it to be, its slightly pungent aroma and creamy texture make it difficult to look past when selecting a blue to enjoy. You be the judge - request Danish blue on your next Date night board and let me know what you think!
Advancing to the next level of the funk, we have Roquefort. If it turns out you don't love this bite (it's okay, you'll get there one day) I think you will at least love its story! With only seven approved roquefort makers in the world, the cheese is aged in naturally formed caves in France that allow the cheese to absorb a whole variety of natural flavours over time. Legend has it, that Roquefort was accidentally discovered by a young man who left his lunch in a cave whilst chasing after a women. Once he returned, it was safe to say his lunch didn't look the same as he had left it, and it was blanketed in mold. Tired, poor and hungry the shepherd took his chances and was left stunned with the beauty that is now Roquefort!
It was honestly extremely difficult trying to narrow down my favourite flavour combinations with this one, the maturity of the slice was just too much fun to play with. As the mould in this slice takes on more of a green colour from the caves, the pungent nature of the flavour transitions into rich, tangy and sharp. If the words mould, tangy and pungent didn't scare you away and you still trust me - start with the spiced cherry spread and a dried fig, bringing out the jammy and creamier elements of the cheese. The dark chocolate pretzels provide the perfect balanced bite - both salty and sweet, this combination with create a 'melt in your mouth' type sensation. Similarly, the candied walnuts take away part of the tang, replacing it with a warm toastiness of the nut and exposing the burnt caramel notes that comes from the sheep's milk in the cheese. The floral honey was an excellent addition to each bite as it matched the earthiness that develops in the cheese from the natural elements. Lastly, as a contrasting combination, the green apple acted as a base to both highlight and match the tangier flavours and cushion the bite with its juiciness and crunch.
U N C O R K E D
If our combinations of honeys, jams, fruits and chocolates didn't peak your interest in the ripe wheels of blue, maybe these complex glasses of wine will!
- Sauvignon Blanc + Danish Blue; The tropical nature of the wine with its crisp finish cut through the sharpness of the danish blue and elevated its creamy and pungent flavours.
- Zinfandel + Gorgonzola; Funnily enough, the gorgonzola brought out some delicious rich aromas of the Zin with a and peppery finish, adding a little spice to the mild and salty bite.
- Port + Roquefort; This fortified sweet wine took the slice from the beginning of the meal to the end and transformed the flavours into a dessert type experience with a robust palette that consists of caramel and hazelnut.
S L I C E D
You know what time it is - It's platter time! Let's take those blues and your knew found knowledge of the slice and get it ready to share with the world.
- The stack. With Danish blue being a little more firm, take your triangle slice and cut it in half (It sometimes helps to dip your knife in boiling water to get a cleaner cut). Stack one half on top of the other to display the wonderful veins that appear throughout the slice whilst also making it easy for your guests to smear from the corners.
- The shave. Shave a few thin slices off the side of the cheese leaning them against one another and leave the rest to be sliced as you go. This suggests to your guests how to cut themselves a bite whilst also leaving the slice to be admired as is without too much mess.
- The crumble. Similar to "the quick chunk" discussed in The Gouda Files - leave the outside of the cheese untouched to maintain its shape. Take a small fork or knife and make multiple small semi-circle motions in the middle of the cheese to create small bite size chunks. Pile the small chunks into the centre of the cheese for easy serving access and to enjoy the beautiful green mould visuals.
K I T C H E N
Among all the things blue cheese pairs beautifully with is surprisingly red meat! You may be familiar with blue cheese making itself known on burgers, add some Roquefort for a creamy and salty sensation alongside your juicy patty. Feeling fancy? Stuff some pitted dates with your danish blue, wrap them in prosciutto and drizzle with honey for the perfect little appetiser at your next event. Alternatively, simply swap out your feta and crumble some gorgonzola into your salad!
S U M M A R Y
Are you still with me? I'm not going to lie, I think it takes a lot of convincing to turn yourself into a blue cheese lover and it definitely might not happen over night. They're definitely funky and a little different, but they are beautiful as they are and I know you will love them one day. Always remember - there are no rules! Turn your cheese tasting experience into a fun date night, pick up the items in my summaries and a few of your favourite treats and see what you come up with. Don't forget to let me know which combination was your preferred bite and also drop your own bite creations in the comments for me to try!
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