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Blue cheese recommendations

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I would like some recommendations for blue cheeses. My preference is for something straightforward such as Maytag, which is my favorite. I also recently enjoyed a buttermilk blue that was quite good from Cheesetique, an excellent and reasonably priced cheese store in the DC area. The reason I ask is that I just bought a Mountain Gorgonzola Piccante from Balducci's, a gourmet store, that tasted and smelled like a dead animal and had to throw it away. Not sure if that was how it was supposed to be or it just went bad.

Many thanks,

ICD

Link: http://www.cheesetique.com/

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  1. I once bought some gorgonzola dulce that tasted like ammonia. I was going to throw it away, but took it back to the store instead. The manager smelled it and immediately gave me my money back. I don't know if it's because it's shipped over by boat or what, but I've found gorgonzola seems to go bad very easily.

    5 Replies
    1. re: coll

      Thanks, I'll be careful with Gorgonzola. My wife did smell ammonia. I'm sure I could have returned it, but it was such a small piece, it wasn't worth the time.

      ICD

      1. re: ICD

        I think I paid around $10 a lb (Southampton prices) and got a couple of pounds, that's why I took it back! I usually get it in the Bronx for half the price, so I thought I was entitled...

        1. re: coll

          I've had both good and bad versions of most of the blue cheeses mentioned in these responses (I'll have to start seeking out the others). The problem is, different batches of the same cheese will taste very different, depending on differences in the milk that went into them, how they were made, how they were aged, and how they have been stored. In fact, the very same piece of cheese will taste very different from week to week as it ages.

          This is especially true of blue cheese, because of the major change in taste that results from small changes in the amount of blue mold in the cheese, and because of the fact that most blue cheeses don't have a protective rind. If you leave a piece of blue cheese out of the refrigerator for a number of hours before putting it back, it will get noticeably bluer (is bluer a word?), as the mold is allowed to proliferate within the cheese. You can often get a sense of how "blue" a cheese will taste just by looking at how much blue there is within it. I've often decided not to choose a Roquefort, or some other wonderful cheese from an excellent producer, just because the particular specimen on the cart didn't look nearly blue enough to eat yet.

          Anyway, my suggestions are:

          (1) Gorgonzola is, in general, wonderful stuff! Don't blame the whole cheese just because of a bad batch that probably wasn't stored right. Gorgonzola Dolce is kind of a less complex variant that hasn't done much for me on the occasions when I've tried it, but the regular Gorgonzola Piccante is one of my favorite and most reliable cheeses.

          (2) In general, it's always much better to taste the actual piece of cheese that you're about to buy before buying it, if you can, or at least try to stick with reputable suppliers. And then eat it up within a few days if you can.

          (3) A cheese that tastes like ammonia has probably been wrapped in plastic or some other impermeable material. Bacteria living in cheese produce ammonia, among other waste products. The cheese has to be allowed to breathe, so that the ammonia escapes, or the ammonia will permeate the cheese and ruin it. If your cheese tastes like ammonia, it probably wasn't allowed to breathe, and you should take it back to the cheese store for a refund.

          (4) A barnyard-like aroma in a cheese can be a very desirable thing. For me, it usually portends a wonderfully complex taste. My rule of thumb is that it's good if the cheese smells like a petting zoo, bad if some of the animals in the petting zoo seem to be no longer alive.

          1. re: Caseophile

            I won't give up on Gorgonzola! I was in hurry and picked something up quickly that was pre-wrapped. Next time, I'll make sure to ask to taste the cheese and have it cut and then wrapped. Thanks for the advice.

            ICD

            1. re: ICD

              Ditto on the gorgonzola. If you're new to it and like milder blues, a gorgonzola dolce might be a better place to start than a mountain gorgonzola. Some cheese vendors also sell a "torta" of gorgonzola and mascarpone, which can be fabulous.

    2. Are you familiar with Great Hill Blue?

      Link: http://www.greathillblue.com/about.htm

      1. I'll be a shameless hometown booster and ask you to try
        the Rogue Creamery. They're big on blues.It's listed on your cheese site and they also mail order.

        Link: http://www.roguegoldcheese.com/index....

        1 Reply
        1. re: pepper ann

          The Rogue River Blue (the one wrapped in chestnut leaves) is amazing. I've become addicted!

          I brought some to a recent wine tasting event and everyone there raved about it too: it has a pronouced blue cheese flavor that's mellowed by it's very creamy, luxurious texture.

          I also like the Bayley Hazen blue from Vermont.

        2. I really like Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company's Original Blue. It's creamy, and has a wonderful flavor. If you like Maytag, you'll love this one.

          Link: http://www.pointreyescheese.com/about...

          4 Replies
          1. re: Nancy Berry

            There's a reason why people who like Maytag also like Point Reyes Blue...........same cheesemaker! The point Reyes cheesemaker was the original Maytag cheesemaker! I love both.

            1. re: Nancy Berry

              Boy will I second the Point Reyes Blue recommendation with 2 big thumbs up :-). It's one of my favorites too.

              1. re: Nancy Berry

                I like Maytag, but have found Pt. Reyes to be way too salty and not very balanced in flavor.

                1. re: Carb Lover

                  Thank you. I liked Pt Reyes in the beginning, but compared to the other blue cheeses I find it crude and salty.

                  Rouge et Noir does an interesting brie like blue cheese.

                  I'm still a roquefort fan. Nothing comes close. Try the different roquefort makers for comparison. I like papillon (sp) and societe the best. Societe cut from the wheel, NEVER packaged at supermarkets.

              2. I think Gorgonzola is meant to be earthy. We once hosted a big Chinese meal for guests, and one of them brought Gorgonzola and pears for a dessert. My wife loved the Gorgonzola (who says Chinese don't like cheese?) so the guest left the leftover cheese for her. She ended up stuffing cubes of fried tofu with it, and came up with "mock stinky tofu." (It was great!)

                Link: http://eatingchinese.org

                2 Replies
                1. re: Gary Soup

                  This was EARTHY! But I don't know if it was bad because of pre-wrapping or just naturally earthly. I don't mind strong or tangy such as good Cabrales, but the mountain gorgonzola piccante was just too much for me. Talking about earthy, we were vacationing in Edisto Beach in South Carolina and bought a cheese made, I believe, at the University of Georgia. It was also earthy. You could smell the grass and cow patties in that cheese.

                  ICD

                  1. re: ICD
                    1
                    1 wiener hound

                    It was probably Clemson U Blue. They use and old railroad tunnel

                2. Humboldt Fog from Cypress Grove.

                  Also for a triple cream Bleu, Cambozola.

                  Both are available at WF. Cambozola is availale a lot of places, including TJ's.

                  Link: http://www.cypressgrovechevre.com/abt...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: applehome

                    Huboldt Fog is a great cheese, but not a blue. It is an aged goat cheese with a layer of ash in the middle. Many people mistake the ash for mold and think it's a blue.

                  2. Fairway in NYC often has a very pleasing Australian blue called Roaring Forties.
                    I think it won awards so it may be sold in other places... And btw you may want to avoid Balducci's. They're such an expensive shell of what the original store used to be...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Mar a

                      I also really like Roaring Forties.

                      My favorites, though, are Roquefort and Blue d'Auvergne.

                    2. How about stilton, Colston-Basset is wonderful. Roquefort if you don't mind salty, is another options.

                      I would try gorg again, likely you got a bad batch. Mountain Gorg can be exquisite. It should be almost creamy.

                      1. I love blue cheese. Two of my favorites are:

                        Shadows of Blue -- Australian double cream
                        Onetik Bleu -- French Basque sheep's milk

                        But my standby favorite is Shropshire Blue. Yum.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: jnovgirl

                          I second that Shropshire Blue. Just discovered it not too long ago, my wife and I devoured it.

                        2. Has anyone tried St. Agur? It's a strong and creamy blue from Auvergne. I find it more flavorful than Maytag and significantly less salty. I *love* this cheese, and I could previously only find it at Dean & DeLuca. Happy to report that both Wegmans now carry this beautiful cheese. Does anyone feel as strongly about St. Agur as I do?

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Zilla

                            YES!

                            I love St. Agur. I can't eat a lot of cheese, but when I choose to indulge, it's either St. Agur or a gorgonzola.

                            1. re: Zilla

                              St. Agur is a very creamy, mild blue. If you like St. Agur, try Cachel Blue, from Ireland as well. Wonderfully creamy, with a rich yet mild flavor.

                              1. re: Zilla

                                St. Agur is our current favorite but I can only find it at D&D - Charlotte.

                              2. i like colston bassett's stilton. rich & interesting. great with freshly cracked walnuts & port.

                                1. Usually when soft-ripened cheese (blue especially) gets overipe it will start to smell a bit like amonia. If it have any hints of amonia, it was probably good, you just don't like that kind of blue cheese.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Nick

                                    In my opinion, no amount of ripening will cause cheese to smell like ammonia if it has been stored properly (i.e. not wrapped in impermeable plastic). Even the raunchiest old Cabrales, aged so long that its white pate has turned dark gray from all the mold, and one's mouth goes numb for half an hour after just a taste, doesn't smell like ammonia to my nose.

                                    If the cheese smells like ammonia, don't blame the cheese, but rather the people who have had custody of it prior to your purchase (usually the store where you bought it).

                                    1. re: Caseophile

                                      I totally agree about cabrales--it should never smell of ammonia. And it is best when purchased fresh from the cave in the late fall. I haven't seen it mentioned, but Gamonedo is my favorite of the Spanish goat/cow/sheep's milk blue cheeses from Cantabria/Asturias.

                                  2. A Roquefort that's wonderful is Carles. Whole Foods and Formaggio's carries it.