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Dec 3, 2009 11:49 AM

Whatever Happened to Roquefort Dressing in Restaurants?

When I was a kiddo back in the 70s virtually every halfway decent restaurant offered roquefort dressing as one of its choices. Now the stuff is so scarce I don't even bother asking if a restaurant has it anymore. I just settle for bleu cheese, which is sometimes quite good, sometimes not.

So what became of roquefort in restaurants? Too expensive? Not enough interest among patrons?

Or alternately, perhaps this is a regional phenomenon and roquefort dressing has only gone extinct in my neck of the woods?

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  1. Your question got me wondering how many of those old "Roquefort" dressings were actually made with a different (& cheaper) blue cheese. A while back, the French got a little litigious about protecting their products...hence, no more Calf. "chablis".

    19 Replies
    1. re: cavandre

      That's possible, I suppose. But in my mind's tongue that olde tyme Roquefort, or "Roquefort" dressing tasted sharper and just plain better than the bleu cheese that is dished out in today's restaurants.

      1. re: Perilagu Khan

        It may simply be that you were, as you say, just a kid (or even if not literally a child, some 30 years younger). Our palates change over time. A lot of things that tasted delicious to me when I was younger taste much blander and sweeter to me now.

        It could be you that's changed, not the blue cheese dressing of whatever ilk.

        1. re: BobB

          Possibly, but I still love Roquefort cheese above all other bleus even if it's not in a dressing.

          Off topic, but Roquefort-stuffed kalamatas are devastatingly good in gin martinis. Not half bad in vodka martinis either.

          1. re: Perilagu Khan

            That does sound good! Do you pit & stuff your own, or are they commercially available?

            1. re: BobB

              I think I've seen them available for purchase on the Internet, but I simply buy pitted kalamatas and stuff them myself. Maytag, blue stilton and gorgonzola also work, but nothing quite measures up to Roquefort, IMO.

              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                Kalamatas in a martini? Do what!?!

              2. re: BobB

                You can buy blue cheese stuffed olives refrigerated on a tray and also in jars at Trader Joe's.

                1. re: Cathy

                  True. But, IMO, store-bought are nowhere near as good as ones you stuff yourself. My better half bought me a li'l tub o' bleu-cheese-stuffed olives from World Market as a stocking stuffer, and God love her, they blow rocks. The cheese doesn't even taste like bleu cheese. More like lint that has been brined 49 weeks.

                  Take a little time and effort and stuff your own. Well worth it.

              3. re: Perilagu Khan

                I tried this last nite- it was really good! Thanks for the idea.

                I grew up during the same time, and always enjoyed the iceberg wedge w/roquefort dressing. Not the tame blue cheese used today, but assertive and creamy roquefort. I make it myself, now.

                  1. re: jpc8015

                    A) An oxymoron
                    B) An abomination
                    C) A harbinger of the end of civilization as we know it
                    D) A hipster drink of choice

                    Seriously though, an actual vodka-based martini, if it's a proper mixed drink, can be quite tasty. Unfortunately, too often it's just a glass of straight vodka with an olive stuck in it.

                    Personally, I like my martinis made with two parts gin to two parts vodka and one part vermouth. I guess that makes me half-civilized.

                    1. re: BobB

                      Agreed on the "vodka martini" response. Not a snob, but a purist...prefer the 4 to 1 gin/vermouth with an olive. Seeing cutesy martini lists in restaurants is big turnoff to me. Also, I like the old gray haired bartender in the red vest, black bow tie who wipes the bar, serves drinks and does not try to be funny or sociable. But that's just me.

                      1. re: BobB

                        The vodka martini is quite delicious, but the vermouth must be noticeable. Otherwise, it's just an iced vodka shot and hardly a true martini. Indeed, I reserve my scorn not for those who drink vodka martinis, but for those silly trendmeisters who give idiotic instructions such as "wave an open bottle of vermouth over the glass" or some such. A significant portion of vermouth is utterly essential to a martini.

                        1. re: BobB

                          A, B, and C are hilariously true. D is a bit more ominous.

                    2. re: BobB

                      some of the 'sweeter now' element could be due to more sweeteners in our factory foods. lots of things are sweeter. i'm especially sensitive to sweetness and believe it doesn't belong lots of places. even the crust of factory produced pizza has sugar now that i taste. we are making ourselves sick. it's pervasive. ConAgran and the others. ADM. et. al. at least i think. my opinion. ketchup is not a vegetable. so slay me! let the usda revise their food lists back to reality..... do us all a world of good, especially children in school.

                      1. re: lil magill

                        Utterly agree! There are foods I loved back in the day, which taste just as good to me now. Because of that, I must assume that foods which taste "off" are such because of tinkering to the assumed "American" palate. Hell, the husband got a box of wheat thins the other day and they tasted so sweet, I couldn't even tolerate them.

                      2. re: BobB

                        No, I agree, for the longest time I couldn't find Roquefort and settled for Blue cheese, some good some not, but recently I was in Jack's in Portland and they had the Iceberg wedge with Roquefort and I kicked ass. Just as I remembered as a kid. My palate may have changed on some level but Roquefort still rocks....

                    3. re: cavandre

                      There has definitely been a move to require some element of truth in menus. Roquefort is a very expensive cheese and I suspect it was rarely used in the past except in name. I have a personal preference for a Stilton sauce over a Roquefort.

                    4. Roquefort has been a very expensive cheese since 1999, when the US government imposed a punitive import tariff of 100% on it, as well as on several other foods produced by the European Union. The reason for the tariff was the EU's refusal to buy US beef from animals raised on hormone-enhanced feed. The tariff has been completely ineffective in persuading the EU to change its position.

                      As one of its last acts, the Bush administration decided in January that the tariff on Roquefort would be increased to 300%, which elicited mass protests from French producers as well as merchants in the US. Essentially, the price of Roquefort would have risen to $60-$75 a pound, destroying its market in the US. Fortunately, the Obama administration reversed its predecessor's decree, so we are back to the old 100% tariff, which will expire in three years if it is not renewed. Roquefort is currently selling in the $28-$40/lb. range, placing it on the high end of blue cheeses sold here. That is undoubtedly the primary reason for its disappearance in recent years from restaurants' salad dressing choices. It's just costs too damn much.. If the tariff is lifted three years from now, I predict it will start showing up again.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: cheesemaestro

                        wow! what about maytag and the others. i know there are 'cave aged' and the like. what's up with that?

                        1. re: lil magill

                          The tariff is specifically for Roquefort and a few other non-cheese products imported from Europe. It doesn't affect Maytag Blue, which is made in Iowa, nor any other domestic or imported blue cheeses.

                          1. re: lil magill

                            Maytag is a cow's milk blue, now industrially manufactured, and no way in the world compares to Roquefort, which is a sheep's milk blue. Even within the world of Roquefort, there are major differences, as Kraft or whomever came in and tried to streamline production (hence, Society brand.) Look for Carles or Berger, or even Papillion for a mid-range Roquefort. Disclaimer: this is my favorite cheese in the whole wide world, and as a sales rep for the largest importer in the country, I have tasted perhaps 3,000 cheeses. This is still my favorite. There are many other blues out there. Maytag, however, is not one worth considering for the price. Try Hudson Ewe's Blue for a locally made, superb cheese.

                            1. re: pitterpatter

                              There's something about Maytag blue cheese that I really hate. I can spot it in any dish, and I can barely eat it. It tastes dry and chalky to me. The texture is off-putting, and the taste isn't good. I don't know why so many folks love this cheese. They describe it as "assertive and creamy". No way- not in my book! I'm going to seek out your Hudson's Blue. Thanks!

                              1. re: stuck in Hartford County

                                Mercy, it's a relief to find someone else has exactly the same opinion of Maytag as I do. You nit the nail on the head.

                        2. It’s true that the price of Roquefort makes it economically unviable for the vast majority of the restaurants, but it was on a downswing before that. I’m going to date myself here but many food items go on cycles, some never return.

                          None of these dates imply that was when the dressings were introduced instead this was when they were very popular and virtually every restaurant was serving them.


                          Strawberry dressing


                          Green Goddess


                          Oil and vinegar craze
                          1000 Island


                          Asian dressing (ginger / soy)
                          Honey Mustard


                          Balsamic vinaigrette

                          Will Roqufort come back – it’s anybodies guess, but when was the last time you were offered Green Goddess in a restaurant?

                          27 Replies
                          1. re: RetiredChef

                            gotta have ranch on that list, chef...I seem to recall seeing it first in the early 80s

                            1. re: coney with everything

                              The only reason I didn't put ranch on the list is because it's still pervasive everywhere. Personally I think it's time it fades away but this is one dressing that has huge staying power, much like 1000 Island and French did.

                              1. re: RetiredChef

                                I agree, RetiredChef. Ranch is the Velveeta Cheese of dressings. It needs to be retired. If it were retired, then maybe many of the blue cheese dressings I order at restaurants wouldn't be just Ranch with a few crumbles of blue cheese in them. But on its own, Ranch just has no flavor. What's the point of it?

                                1. re: gfr1111

                                  Mostly agree about the ubiquitousness of ranch, but I think it's more about the nasty, mass-produced kind than the thing itself. I'm definitely an oil/vinegar/herbs on the salad kind of girl, but every now and again like to make up a fresh batch of ranch when I'm feeling like something rich but gorgonzola wouldn't work with the other flavors (gorgonzola basil dressing is a gift from the gods, don'cha know).

                                  I guess, for me, the heinousness of ranch is the same as many "foods" served at many restaurants ... low quality, flavor, and nutrition in excessive quantities.

                                  1. re: gfr1111

                                    you've never tasted real ranch dressing, then, made from scratch (it *does* make a difference)? i think it's herbally, tangy creaminess is terrific.

                                    of course, i love real roquefort dressing, and the home-made green goddess.

                              2. re: RetiredChef

                                Poppyseed seems to have circled back into moderately common use since the sweetness seems to work well with spinach salads in the post-iceberg lettuce world.

                                1. re: beachmouse

                                  I agree, I make an orange poppyseed that my wife loves on her spinach salad.

                                  1. re: RetiredChef

                                    a mix of plum sauce, rice wine vinegar (plain or the seasoned mirim) and a dash of sesame oil and or sesame seeds makes a great dressing for spinach as well.

                                    Town restaurant here in Honolulu has a very nice salad with Green Goddess dressing.

                                2. re: RetiredChef

                                  I remember all of those (the so-called Caesar was one of the most offensive schemes ever hatched by the mind of man). Oddly enough, though, there is a restaurant in none other than Baton Rouge La, parrain's by name, that offers Green Goddess. it might be a deliberate throwback ploy. Shortly after I saw that, I encountered it again at The Palace Hotel in San Franscisco but that made sense since the claim is that it was invented there.

                                  1. re: RetiredChef

                                    Good point. And I remember that French dressing was also extremely popular simultaneously with Roquefort. Whenever my fambly went out to dinner my mom ordered Roquefort and my old man ordered French. I sided with my mom on that one.

                                    Incidentally, is anybody aware of a commercially available Roquefort dressing? My--admittedly desultory--Internet searching has turned up a big, fat zero.

                                    1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                      Bob's Big Boy according to this thread: :: Blue Cheese Dressing - best brand?

                                      1. re: OCAnn

                                        Thanks. I may have to see if I can lay my hands on a bottle of the stuff.

                                        1. re: OCAnn

                                          I've tried Bob's Big Boy and did not love it. I like Lighthouse Blue Cheese Dressing.

                                          Bob's dressing seemed to artificial to me. You can see, taste and feel the thickeners in it.

                                          So easy to make your own... half mayo, half sour cream, added crumbled cheese. I add garlic and cayenne to mine.

                                        2. re: Perilagu Khan

                                          I'm a huge fan of the combo of blue cheese dressing with a little French on top of that...

                                          They are so good together!

                                          1. re: scuzzo

                                            Oh no - there is nothing better than this:
                                            get a GOOD bit of Italian bread, break off a bit - first dunk it into a good Italian/vinegarette, then dip into some blue cheese dressing!
                                            OMG - IT'S TO DIE FOR

                                            I used to work in a restaurant that had all of the above, and me and my co-workers would STUFF ourselves with this treat all night long...OH wow was it good!

                                            1. re: NellyNel

                                              Relatedly, I've come to really love bleu cheese vinaigrette dressings, even store-bought. Martinique is exceptional, and Ken's is not half bad either.

                                        3. re: RetiredChef

                                          I didn't realise that Green Goddess was a "old time" salad dressing. ;) It's one of the dressings/sauces served @ The Melting Pot for their fondue dishes....

                                          1. re: OCAnn

                                            yes, the dressing has far outlived the play it was named for. There are a huge number of variations on the recipe. If it doesn't have tarragon... it's not Green Goddess.


                                          2. re: RetiredChef

                                            i just love that great time-line. i still love poppy seed. i'd love to know the real green goddess. it wasn't really avocado. it was .......... what?

                                            1. re: lil magill

                                              NO - not avocado

                                              I don't think the actually original recipe is available, however the Wikipedia link is close, it's missing garlic and vinegar. I have made hundreds of gallons of it, the Green comes from Chervil, Tarragon and chives. Tarragon, which was the basil of the 20-40's, fell out of favor in the 60's so after that people were adding tons of other things to it Avocado, basil, spinach, watercress, etc., while leaving out the tarragon or substituting tarragon vinegar for the white wine vinegar.

                                              1. re: RetiredChef

                                                we had a series of threads on green goddess, and the original recipe was noted -- from a san francisco restaurant.

                                                and...i recall the wonderful roquefort dressing that my dad would get on his salad at smitty's steak house in s.w. florida in the early '70s.

                                            2. re: RetiredChef

                                              Green goddes dressing was actually an item on a list for a scavenger hunt that I participated in a couple of years ago.....and was not "findable" in any of our local grocery stores! (I got the ponts for it by finding a recipe on the internet and making my own!)

                                              1. re: RetiredChef

                                                I agree that most restaurants don't serve them, but we keep poppyseed, catalina, honey mustard, and ceaser on hand at home. I make my own balsamic vinaigrette. I never liked any of the fruit dressings - I've been offered strawberry, raspberry, and even a blueberry dressing, and I didn't like any of them. Never liked Green Goddess either, it can RIP. And I've been to places that make their own 1,000 Island style, and I like that, but I feel the commercial products are way too sweet.

                                                1. re: RetiredChef

                                                  Green Goddess is making inroads to a comeback; I've seen it a couple of restaurants here in Denver. But whether it will be ubiquitous again is another matter. In fact I just recently included it in a blogpost on bygone fads whose return I'm rooting for.


                                                  1. re: RetiredChef

                                                    I wish to god balsamic vinaigrette and raspberry vinaigrette would die. Can't believe they're *still* everywhere.

                                                    1. re: RetiredChef

                                                      Green Goddess has been making a small comeback in restos around LA. Of course, this ain't the Kraft in a bottle stuff. They're making it from scratch.

                                                      1. re: bulavinaka

                                                        that's great news to me- Green Goddess is yummy stuff to me, in addition to th e bleus and roqueforts and gorgonzolas (except I don't care for the Danish bleu or Maytag either)

                                                    2. I love Roquefort dressing, and make it frequently at home. Haven't seen it in a restaurant in a long time. Gorgonzola Dolcelatte also makes an excellent blue cheese dressing.

                                                      1. New millinium: Server: "Ranch on everybody's salad?"

                                                        Patrons: "Yep"

                                                        Patrons: "Oh, and bring an extra quart or two of ranch for the
                                                        fries, onion rings and chicken strips."

                                                        16 Replies
                                                        1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                                                          ranch must die

                                                          am i the only one who really really dislikes the taste of ranch dressing? no surprise since i can't stand buttermilk. isn't ranch just a low cost (editorial comment: and NASTY) substitute for blue or roquefort?

                                                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                            I actually like ranch dressing, but then I like most creamy dressings. Those sorts of dressings work best, IMO, on traditional iceberg or wedge salads with carrots and radishes. Not so hot on fancy, leafy greens or baby greens.

                                                            1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                              For me, ranch dressing is more of a substitute for mayonaise in sandwiches and such because the buttermilk cuts down on the 'egginess', something I'm not overly fond of.

                                                              The cheese dressings are another separate species to me.

                                                              1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                You are not alone. And the ads act like it's been around forever, but I certainly remember a time before ranch. I think Hidden Valley invented it in the 70's or 80's. But so far from bleu or roquefort it's laughable.

                                                                On the other hand, I miss roquefort a lot. It was so good. And I was an adult when I ate it. Now I'll order bleu, or whatever vinaigrette, but I loved roquefort.

                                                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                  Ditto, ranch must die! It replaced French in most restaurants!

                                                                  1. re: dcdavis

                                                                    While I'm not a fan of it on lettuce salads, I really do like ranch as a substitute for mayo in tuna salad- significantly less eggy that way, and I'm not a fan of eggy.

                                                                2. re: mrbigshotno.1

                                                                  or my impoosibly unsophisticated 21 yeqarf old daughter who puts the ranch on pizza before she'll eat it

                                                                  1. re: bagelman01

                                                                    I really do like pizza with barbecued chicken and ranch dressing too. Pains me to admit it as an Italophile—but then I also love purist pies.

                                                                  2. re: mrbigshotno.1

                                                                    Sounds about right. Ranch is everywhere. This English grocery store chain, Fresh & Easy opened up near my neighborhood. They have a limited selection of food items. They do, however, have no less than eight (8) varieties of ranch dressing!?!?!?!

                                                                    1. re: Kate is always hungry

                                                                      Wow - I have never tried Ranch...
                                                                      I would like to though!

                                                                      1. re: NellyNel

                                                                        you can make your own ranch dressing with buttermilk and mayo.

                                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                                          mmmm osunds good to me!!

                                                                          Thanks alkapal - I shall def try it (when I am not dieting!!)

                                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                                              Hee hee!

                                                                              But for me - it's gotta be real - or no deal!!!
                                                                              If I'm going to have it - it's got to be the way it was meant to be!!

                                                                              1. re: NellyNel

                                                                                nelly, then make it full fat in all of its glory. after all, you ain't gonna slug it by the gallon, girlfriend! ;-)).

                                                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                                                  Oh I will!!

                                                                                  I bet it'd be good with some crudite...
                                                                                  and a few dips here and there can't be THAT bad!!