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Blue Cheese [split from the Purist thread]

  • m

Hey EWSflash, no worries! It is freakishness on my part that I don't absolutely love blue cheese. I like blue cheese but in small quantities, and that is a shortcoming on my part. I adore most other cheeses, and could eat cheese until I am completely bunged up, but blue cheese is often just a bit too strong for me. I continue to try to grow past this failing of mine....

So continue to enjoy your gorgonzola mac! Bon appetit, and I hope to continue my baby steps to enjoy this food item more.

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  1. moh, if you'd really like to take baby steps toward enjoying blue cheese more, I have a recommendation for you: CAMBOZOLA

    http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/equivale...

    I used to hate blue cheese, too, and now I actually crave the stuff (and wish I didn't!). See if Cambozola can be a bridge to your blue cheese enjoyment!

    13 Replies
    1. re: kattyeyes

      I do like Cambozola well enough. I also enjoy small amounts of good Stilton with a nice port for dessert. I find Bleu de Bresse milder and therefore easier to enjoy than other stronger blue cheeses. I can appreciate small slivers of good roquefort. So i am slowly getting there. But I can each much larger quantities of things like Epoisses, a good Brie, Morbier, aged cheddar, Manchego, Parmesan, Conte, Ossau-Iraty, Dom Villas, chevres of all varieties, Taleggio, aged gouda, double Glouchester, and many other non-blue cheeses, including my new love, Vacherin Mont D'or Lait Cru. It is surprising to me that I love so many cheeses, and yet still can't fully appreciate blue cheese. I prefer it straight, a hunk of cheese, rather than as an ingredient to a sauce or salad.

      1. re: moh

        I seem to prefer the milder blues also. My current favorite is Fourme d'Ambert--raw (unpasteurized). When I picked some up yesterday, our cheesemonger explained that the raw vs. pasteurized is so different that some people who've tried it pasteurized don't like it at all. I love it raw. We're having it atop our filets today.

        Let's face it, from a fat/cholesterol perspective, consider yourself lucky that you only desire it in small slivers. ;) Yours truly, the cholesterol kid.

        http://www.cheese-france.com/cheese/f...

        1. re: kattyeyes

          I also like Fourme d"Ambert! And I am also a huge fan of raw milk cheeses of all varieties. As for the fat/cholesterol, unfortunately, I make it up in triple creme cheese like St. Andre... I love cheese! I'm not very Asian that way. Very happy to be in a province that appreciates good cheese.

          1. re: moh

            We are kindred cheese spirits. ;) Bet you love L'Edel de Cleron, too. Don't get me going on triple cremes--I love St. Andre as well. I don't think I've ever met a triple creme I didn't like.

            1. re: kattyeyes

              Love Edel de Cleron! Really delicious!

              If you haven't tried it, i am sure you would love Vacherin Mont D'or lait cru. I think it is out of season now, but if you can get your cheeseloving paws on this stuff next fall/early winter, you really must do so. It needs to be runny, so runny that you spoon it out to eat it...

              1. re: moh

                Oh, yum...your last sentence drew me in. I will have to see if I can get some in the fall. I will tuck it into the back of my brain till then. Have a nice weekend! :)

      2. re: kattyeyes

        I too don't like blue MUCH, small quantities. I enjoy cambozola and gorgonzola both. Pretty much any other cheeses I love.

        Recently went to a cheese party and they had 4 varieties of blues and 3-4 of other varieties. Lots of fun but tried all the blues and didn't like any. Cambozola and Gorgonzola are about all I enjoy. Otherwise in very small quantities is all I can handle.

        1. re: kchurchill5

          I hear that- I don't like Danish blue as a rule, kind of a weird flat-off-taste that I don't like, but think that's the only blue cheese I've ever had that I don't like. Even ones that didn't start out being blue.

          Just kiddingabout the original blue,, sort of

        2. re: kattyeyes

          Cambazola was definitely a bridge to my blue cheese enjoyment. It was the first blued cheese I ever liked. Now I love many blue cheeses, although I'm not fond of the really pungent ones.

          Mild/accessible blues I like include the Roaring Forties blue others have mentioned, the Bayley Hazen blue from Vermont, and Buttermilk Blue from Wisonsin. My favorite blue cheese for a treat is Rogue River Blue (Rogue River creamery makes several blue cheeses, but there's only one Rogue River Blue and it's divine -- and expensive!).

          http://www.wisconsinmade.com/gift-ide...
          http://www.jasperhillfarm.com/ourchee...
          http://www.roguecreamery.com/pilot.as...

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            Rogue River rocks.

            And yes, Ruth is correct. Cambozola is the "gateway" blue.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              Nice call on the Roaring Forties blue, which is the only name I could remember when I was at the cheese shop today. It's a little sweet--very tasty. Picked some up and will be enjoying it in a panko crust tonight atop my filet. Thank you! Will remember to look at this thread again before my next cheese shopping endeavor for more goodies. :)

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                Ruth and marialorraine, I finally had a chance to try the Rogue River Blue you recommended. That is a mindblowing blue if ever I have tasted one. RIGHT ON!

            2. moh, I'm with you on the blue cheese in mac'n'cheese. I don't even like the stuff on burgers.

              But - if it's available in your part of the world, you owe it to yourself to try Humboldt Fog from here in Northern California. All by itself, please. (Okay, a slice of baguette or a table water biscuit would be acceptable.) One of the great blues of all time.

              27 Replies
              1. re: alanbarnes

                I had the great fortune to try Humboldt Fog when I spent a couple of years in the States. It is indeed a delicious blue, very high quality, a world class product. Again, I enjoy it in smaller quantities than other cheeses, but can recognize its excellence.

                Sadly, I have not seen it here in Montreal, our American cheese market is rather small I think. Quebecois tend to stick to their French or Quebecois cheeses, which makes selection of these cheeses much greater. I guess I can't really complain!

                1. re: moh

                  Humboldt Fog is not a bleu cheese. It is a soft ripened goat cheese made, classically, with layers of ash.

                  http://www.cypressgrovechevre.com/che...

                  1. re: applehome

                    The ash is visible on the outside and as a streak through the middle. But I've been told by a reputable cheesemonger (not an infallible source, but a pretty good one) that the blue streaks near the ash are penicillium. Which would make it a blue cheese, albeit a mild one.

                    1. re: alanbarnes

                      Memory is a funny thing... it has been years since I had Humboldt Fog, and I always remembered it as a blue cheese. But perhaps this is why I liked it so much! I recall that it tasted like blue cheese, but that indeed it was fairly mild. And I seem to recall buying it thinking, "well, not such a fan of blue cheese, but this is supposed to be delicious, let's give it a try".

                      Still, looking at various site online, it doesn't mention this being a blue cheese. Very interesting comment about the penicillum. Hmmm... curiouser and curiouser.

                      1. re: moh

                        Speaking of blues, the Hubbardston Farms Blue Goat and Blue Cow are awesome cheeses. More nutty than pungent.

                        1. re: limster

                          I shall have to be on the lookout! Thanks for the tip.

                          BTW, loved your posts about the teas down below. Very interesting information, I am intrigued by the Scarlet Robe....

                          1. re: moh

                            Here's another somewhat recent thread about Scarlet Robe (see links from Xiao Yang's posts), and I would bet there are more buried in General Topics:
                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/480977

                            I've been fortunate to have a tea shop that sources Scarlet Robe from a cutting grown ~300m away from the original and made by the same tea master that makes the original. It's much more affordable (iirc £5 or 6 a cup).

                            1. re: limster

                              Limster, thanks so much for that link! Camelia Sinensis in Montreal does indeed carry this tea, and should have a new batch soon. Thanks so much!

                              1. re: moh

                                How about cashel blue from Ireland?

                                1. re: bigfellow

                                  2 other blues to try; St Agur and Roaring Forties. The Roaring Forties has a slightly sweet note to it that many "I'm not a blue cheese lover" find much more palatable

                                  1. re: bubbles4me

                                    Had some Roaring Forties recently, and it is very worth trying. About the only blue I don't care for is Cabrales--the one I had was too strong--perhaps too old. And Humboldt Fog is indeed fine, but I don't think of it as a blue cheese.

                                    1. re: bubbles4me

                                      I haven;t had the pleasure of trying the Cashel Blue and the Roaring forties. More cheese to add to the list of stuff to try. Heard good things about both.

                        2. re: alanbarnes

                          Alan, my comrade to the east:

                          "the blue streaks near the ash are penicillium. Which would make it a blue cheese, albeit a mild one."

                          Penicillium is a genus of fungi that includes many different species that make types of cheese and many, many other things.

                          Penicillium camemberti makes Camembert and Brie cheeses; Penicillium candida makes Brie and Camembert; Penicillium glaucum makes Gorgonzola cheese; and Penicillium roqueforti, which is used in making Roquefort and many other blue cheeses. Yes, the genus Pencillium also includes the Penicillium chrysogenum, which makes the antibiotic penicillin.

                          Other genera (plural of genus) used to create many different types of cheese are Lactobacillus and Streptococcus. And yes, species within each genus produce many things other than cheese, just like the genus pencillium.

                          1. re: maria lorraine

                            So is this settled Maria Lorraine? Is it consensus that Humboldt Fog is not a blue cheese?

                            So funny, I've spoken to a few others who also recall this cheese being marketed as a blue cheese. Enough people seem to have the same experience, so I don't believe this is a memory lapse on my part (although it certainly still could be). Is it possible that there was some erroneous marketing in the past?

                            1. re: moh

                              Hey, Moh,

                              I've chatted with the owner/cheesemaker of Cypress Grove, Mary Keehn, a few times. From my recollection, this is both a terroir cheese and an innoculated cheese: Indeed, it's the thick fog teeming with microorganisms coming in from the Pacific Ocean that gives the cheese its name and characteristic flavor, along with a couple of innoculated cultues. I've always seen it marketed as a goat cheese, and when it's gooey ripe, oh baby, is it good.

                              My guess is that it's not a blue cheese, partly because when one uses p. roqueforti (or one of the blue bacteria), that bacterium takes over the cheesemaking facility, and innoculates every cheese. So if you make blue, that's all you make. And clearly that's not the case with Cypress Grove.

                              On the flip side of that, however, the cheesemaking facilities along the northern California Pacific coast all know that p. roqueforti is in the air. It can invade a batch of milk. I don't know about the blue color; my sense is that it's the ash reacting with the milk. Janet Fletcher, the cheese (and food writer) wrote a nice article on Humboldt Fog in the San Francisco Chronicle, and there is no mention whatsoever in the article about any"blue-ness" in the cheese.

                              Link to the Janet Fletcher write-up:
                              http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

                              BTW, that ash in Humboldt Fog is the same ash as that used in Morbier -- white-pine ash -- and its presence in the middle of the cheese is purely for decoration.

                              I'll still give Mary a call.

                              Maria

                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                Maria Lorraine, thanks for the link and the info!

                                I clearly need to make more of concerted effort to have this cheese again. Maybe I'll start bugging some of my favorite cheese shops here. Worse comes to worse, I have some conferences coming up in NYC and San Francisco, surely I'll be able to find it there!

                                1. re: moh

                                  OK, reporting back.

                                  I've just spoken with Mary Keehn, and Humboldt Fog, lest there be any doubt, is not a blue cheese. The milk is first coagulated with a proprietary blend of airborne and other bacteria, but that affects the interior of the cheese and its flavor. The exterior of Humboldt Fog is treated with penicillium candidum, which creates the white bloomy rind on it and many other cheeses. The bloomy rind becomes less fluffly with age and changes from a white to an ivory color, and of course, if you're shopping for Humboldt Fog that is what you want to look for. It's wonderful when it's perfectly ripe. I prefer the larger wheels of Humboldt Fog rather than the smaller formed version.

                                  Oh, by the way, any blue color near the ash is simply from the ash interacting with the milk.

                                  Best, all,
                                  Maria

                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                    Thanks, Maria. As the person who started this bit of misinformation (at least on this thread), I appreciate you setting the record straight.

                                    But now that the subject has come up, I won't rest until I've had some Humboldt Fog. And maybe some Point Reyes Blue. And a wedge of Mount Tam. I sense a cheeseboard coming on. The low-fat diet can start next week.

                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                      alanbarnes, as a professional cheeselady, I'll tell you a funny story.

                                      My uncle- Mr. Cordon Bleu Grande Diplome chef, got into it with me about the ash layer in Morbier- insisting it was blue spores, but like maria said, it's ash, like the Fog.

                                      So, it's a mistake that professionals have made... and one I hear a lot.

                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                        I can without hesitation recommend Humboldt Fog, and a ripe Mount Tam. However, Mount Tam is often sold way, way too young, when the cheese is still firm, and it really should be sold and enjoyed when the cheese is gooey, like a ripe Epoisses. I can't recommend Point Reyes, sorry. It strikes me as an industrially made blue cheese, rather than an artisan one, despite claims to the contrary. I've visited the facility, and spoken with the cheesemaker, so I speak from a somewhat informed position. My rec would be to explore a truly artisan blue cheese.

                                        Alan, if you make it to my neck of the woods on a cheese/wine/food exploration, please let me know.

                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                          One of my favorite things about Cowgirl is that they make small cheeses, so you can ripen them for a good long time. I've had less luck with cut wedges of blue cheese. Too much ammonia too soon. But I'm a relative novice on that front.

                                          As far as wine country goes, my own cluelessness and the pervasive buses and carloads of tourists have been a barrier to its exploration for more than a decade. I feel like a rube standing on Times Square holding a map of the Theater District. It's tough for a cheap bastard with an unrefined palate to catch a break in Yountville. But insider info might make things more viable (hint, hint)...

                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                            Cop a ride on the clue bus sometime and try any of Boucher Farm's (Vermont) blues. Gore-Dawn-Zola is their principal product, but they do an aged, salty, Stilton -like blue that practically requires a coal chisel. Nary a trace of ammonia.

                                          2. re: maria lorraine

                                            Okay, so where does one find Humbolt Fog?

                                              1. re: EWSflash

                                                That depends on where one lives, does it not? Except, really, there are three places to look for it: a good cheese shop; Whole Foods; online.

                                                http://www.cypressgrovechevre.com/sho...

                                                1. re: EWSflash

                                                  As Ruth said, a good cheese shop or online. But many good groceries in addition to Whole Foods will carry it. Others will order it for you, especially if you're willing to buy the entire 1-pound wheel. Given that a pound is a good amount to consume at a single sitting (just ... one ... more ... bite ...) that shouldn't be a problem.

                                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                                    EWS, I can even buy it by the wedge in Sarasota at Mortons Gourmet, so check out gourmet/cheese shops in your area. It seems to have pretty good distribution. I learned about it on C'hound, and it's a treat.

                          2. I can definitely see how you may think blue cheese is strong. The first time I had Roquefort (a very strong blue), I was 11. At that age, my experience with cheese was limited with Kraft singles, mozzarella, ricotta, munster, brie, Swiss -- basically blander supermarket cheese (well, maybe with the exception of brie). Vile! It was way too pungent, and I thought I was eating poo! I spit it out and had to wash my mouth out with soda. I still couldn't get that nasty taste out of my mouth. So that scared me from ever trying any blue again for about 11 or 12 years.

                            Then in my early 20s, I was in Philly with a friend and we went to this very nice restaurant where they had this steak topped with blue cheese. The steak sounded good, but I was a bit hesitant about trying blue cheese again. The waitress told me that a lot of people don't like blue because it's too strong. But that this one was pretty good, and that she'd put it on the side if I wanted to try it. So I was eating my steak with this hunk of moldy cheese just staring at me. Well, I decided to give it another go, and I really loved it! I'm so glad that I got over my fear and tried it again.

                            Today, I can eat a lot of blues (I even have some Roquefort in my cheese drawer right now). But, like you, I don't like to eat it in large amounts because it is a bit too much for me -- that, and I'm allergic to molds, and find that when I eat blue cheese, I get all itchy. I can't just munch on blue cheese like how I could munch on something milder like a Comte. So I really limit it.

                            And if I'm having people over, I never make something with blue cheese unless I know they love it -- because most people I know aren't huge fans of it. I remember ordering two fondues with a bunch of people -- stilton and a Swiss cheese blend. DH and I were the only ones eating the stilton fondue, and everybody else just kept eating the Swiss.

                            I don't know if you ever tried it, but my favorite blue out there is Valdeon from Spain. To me, it's the perfect balance of salty, sweet and pungent.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Miss Needle

                              " Vile! It was way too pungent, and I thought I was eating poo! I spit it out and had to wash my mouth out with soda. I still couldn't get that nasty taste out of my mouth. "

                              Exactly my first experience with blue cheese! It is such a different flavour profile from most Asian cuisine, I think it is hard to get over that bump for us Asians. My husband used to work in a lab with some Chinese scholars, and they had a lot of trouble eating any cheese at all. It really turned them off. I don't know a lot of recent Asian immigrants who can get into cheeses, let alone blue cheeses. It takes a lot to make that leap.

                              I've also heard good things about Valdeon - I am playing with the idea of doing the El Camino de Santiago de Compostela (spelling completely wrong I am sure). Perhaps I will have to search this fine cheese out.

                              1. re: moh

                                "It is such a different flavour profile from most Asian cuisine, I think it is hard to get over that bump for us Asians. "

                                True. But I was a bit surprised that I thought it was that gross as a kid considering how much daen jang (funky fermented soy bean paste -- similar to natto, but not as stinky) I was eating! : )

                            2. Try to get your hands on some Point Reyes Blue, excellent, even better with some Pinot Noir. It's strength is between Gorg and Stilton with nice veins.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: cstr

                                My favorite as well, especially great with black figs. You can get it online if you have trouble finding it:
                                http://pointreyescheese.com

                                1. re: cstr

                                  Our local Costco is now carrying this cheese at a very reasonable price. It is great!

                                  1. re: cstr

                                    I find Point Reyes to be very SALTY...?

                                  2. Also may not be how "strong" the veined cheeses are,but how SALTY .Some simply are past peak when sold far from point of origin.If it happens to be one of the saltier profile varieties strong is a polite adjective.