Where can we get the best tasting blue cheese?
Some blue cheese is better than others. It seems to show especially in my home made salad dressing. I shop at Winco where there are two kinds. Personally I do not like the Stella brand as has weak flavor and a consistency of cream cheese rather than something that crumbles. For now I have been buying Winco's re-packaged Salmon Valley Blue Cheese for $6.28 per pound (their deli buys it in bulk).
My grandmother used to by Roquefort and I recall an intense taste but that was long ago. Found some good information at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_cheese while that doesn't tell me where is the best place to buy it.
Thought would ask if anyone knows where the best tasting blue cheeses can be bought? Possibly someone knows what is the best reasonably priced kind when compared to others, and what is the best kind that can be had for any price.
Thank you to everyone for the feedback. These days Society brand Roquefort from France at TJ's is $9.99 / lb and our favorite for salad dressing or dip. Society has a unique green looking great tasting mold. Some slice better as is a bit creamy. Says aged in limestone caves. TJ's also has a regular blue as well as a Gorgonzola for about $6 / lb we also get. Now appreciate salads topped with; chopped nuts, something sweet like sliced chunks of honey-crisp apple, a good tart home made Italian Dressing (similar to Good Seasons) made without oil, EVOO, fresh cracked pepper, with a decent blue. Roquefort dressing on most any salad is hard to beat to me when made right. Have found there are too many good ones to list and enjoy trying new ones often to compare to what already know expanding horizons to make more informed future food decisions.
Thanks to smaki and everyone else for suggesting wonderful blue cheese varieties. I found Maytag blue cheese at my grocer and I've been sampling it every day. There are some other varieties to try as well. I'd just been buying the crumbles (reduced fat) for salad, but am loving the full fat Maytag. I'm on a low carb diet, and it has occurred to me that it might be OK to eat full fat cheese, if I don't go overboard. And I am!
Have been going through the selection at my TJ's and find it fresh with reasonable price when compared to other retailers. Please let me know if someone sees better prices elsewhere as TJ's is where can get Blue d'Auvergne for $11.99 per pound (becoming a favorite) and others for now, they even have a Roquefort have not sprang for yet. Find the Gorgonzola crumbles awesome especially cold and is $5.99 a pound as of yesterday at TJ's.
Here is an interesting website with pictures and comparisons to go with what you are all saying:
Doing research today found Amazon has prices with the pictures and descriptions of gormet cheeses and can shop online! As an example have found I like Bleu d'Auvergne as has the taste I like without so much of the price as recommended above, and here is the Amazon link for Blue d'Auvergne:
And the Amazon link for a Roquefort:
The Amazon link to Maytag which is one of the next ones I will try as soon as able:
Just Amazon examples and notice at the bottom of the Amazon pages it has a customers who viewed this also viewed ... for further fun cheese shopping online to help compare and decide what to try next in your local cheese shop or market. It is kinda fun to have the prices with the descriptions.
When first posted had no idea there were so many kinds of blue cheese and have been getting an education thanks to those who posted here. As suggested have been enjoying all kinds in different ways. Have found enjoy blue cheese alone with different fruit & nuts in combination not just on salad dressing so expanding horizons here. Find changing temperature is fun with blue cheese - some seem best to me around room temperature. Have not tried melting it yet. This thread really ramped me up to realizing needed to learn more about blue cheese options, how to buy it, and how to enjoy eating more kinds in more ways.
Thank you for sharing everyone! Now trying all kinds from as many places as I can. Buying little chunks here and there. Will post if find any new favorites in addition to the above while enjoying the journey. On the top end, still like Roquefort while have not found a favorite brand or remember a lable. Yes you all were right, the local Rogue Creamery, http://www.roguecreamery.com/, makes Rogue Valley Blue and some others that are very nice but pricy still. Will be searching for affordable good choices. Have been making small batches of salad dressing and find getting the blue cheese cold and chopping it into little pieces before mixing it into the dressing increases intense flavor we like - seems to make a little bit of something good go further. Stronger better blue cheeses don't need as much either which helps justify higher initial expense - for the same money find able to have a better tasting dressing with a little less of something better.
"Some blue cheese is better than others"
I would argue against that (taking out of the equation all industrial cheeses).
Taste and try all you can find, and decide which one you like best; it might not be the "one" that some other say you should/have to like; but it will be the one you like.
I don't know where you are from, but I would look as close as possible to where you are for local producers; then go regional and then further out.
IMO, only buy imported cheese from a good vendor (brick&mortar store)
I, too, have given up on supermarket blue, although DW sometimes indulges to crumble on salads. My local cheese store has introduced me to many "bleu ribbon" winners, among them:
St. Augur, France
Roaring Forties Blue, Austrailia
Gorgonzola Dolce, Italy
Ewe's Blue, NY
Bayley Hazen Blue, Vermont
Cashel Blue, Ireland
and I just picked up some Buttermilk Blue from Wisconsin which I haven't rated yet.
(Oh, and whatever you do, beware of Spanish Cabrales, it can eat through your dentures!)
This is a great list!
Roaring Forties, Bayley Hazen, Cashel, all incredible cheeses.
Look for the Cambozola Black Label, it's the triple cream, best on a steak
Moody Blue is wonderful on mashed or baked potatoes.
Buttermilk Blue is a very popular cheese, great on burgers, one of the best, and on salads
I also adore a good Shropshire blue, probably my favorite blue of all.
Your best bet is to find a specialty cheese shop where you can taste a variety of blue cheeses.
Sample the sweet, the tart, the smoked and the strong. Do them all. Then buy your favorites.
Our cheese shop had a January special "Post Holiday Blues" featuring blues from around the world.
Loving the information shared. Am getting educated on personal tastes, local suppliers / retailers, tariffs, brands / types / regions / that are good, how to get samples, even etiquette in the special cheese store (reminds me of the first time I went into a specialty wine store). And yes beginning to understand what and where to get the best here where I live. You all are great.
Now am thinking, is there such a think as a great tasting affordable value in blue cheese? I can search out and find affordable tasty wine and olive oils without having to go to the top of the line. Usually it is better to go to Whole Foods or Trader Joes here for olive oil and get better quality for half price compared to Winco, Safeway, Thriftway, Albertsons, etc. Hoping there a way to get a fabulous blue cheese for a not so top shelf expensive price where it can be gobbled more often. Now realizing Roquefort is expensive but maybe worth it when want something special. Bleu d'Auvergne and Maytag are something will look into for sure. Will get some local Rogue River Blue and some of that suppliers other cheeses for sure based on your recommendations here. With a sister in Spain liking their olive oil and Rioja wine with less acid being awesome in cooking will have to try Cabrales and especially Valdeon. Sounds like I need to ingest more mold. Woried about eating badly stored amonia kind of mold and will get over it - guess will have to keep telling myself I like blue mold to find a value! Sometimes when trying alone they can be very strong making it almost overwhelming when attempting to find a favorite. When sampling should it be a plain chunk or on a wheat thin or something? How do you like to try it?
Glad to know can buy a 1/4+ lb or so at at time. Like to do blind taste testing with friends and family. Then buy more when find something people like.
Did not know it was a search like olive oil or wine ... and now I do. Any additional suggestions of favorite blue cheeses to try are welcome. Like EVOO or wine my goal will be to find kinds of blue cheese I like for a costly treats and the kind to eat often without breaking the bank. It would be awesome to find both awesome taste with reasonable while realize usually not together in one. Will be making small test batches of salad dressing to find optimal price / taste and post here what I find if anything new. Beginning to think some of the stronger blues go further in my salad dressing as have a stronger taste, crumble better when cold, and do not need as much. Blue cheese salad dressing and on top of salads are my main uses.
Well, Societe is one of the stronger ones, IMO. You can get it at Trader Joe's for significantly less than what you would pay at a specialty shop, but:
--You have to get a pretty good-sized piece (everything is prepackaged there)
--I've found it to be (generally) not as soft and ripe as the Societe I get at, say, Whole Foods.
--Also often has less blue veining, which is what blue cheese is all about, right? On the other hand, (IIRC) that half-pound chunk goes for about $17 per lb, vs around $30 per lb at Whole Foods.
Your best bet is to taste a few different blues at a time, with a cracker in between tastes, so you don't get overloaded. Remember though, that although you can't taste at Trader Joe's, anything you buy there can be returned. They also carry a Valdeon, which I haven't tried yet. I've had Valdeon in the past, and found it to be quite intense. My favorite used to be a Spanish blue called Penazul, but it went away, and the Penazul you can get now just isn't the same at all.
Here's another thread where blue cheese strength is discussed:
You might want to look up the varieties of Roquefort I mentioned upthread (they're all pictured here and there online), and see if you recognize the labelling from what you had at Grandma's, as I doubt it's changed.
You're right about the stronger blues and salads. There are creamy ones that make a wonderful creamy dressing if you put it in the salad bowl early and let it warm up. Straight from the frig they crumble best but then good to let that warm up a bit too so you get the most flavor. If you haven't tried Roquefort in a salad with fresh figs and walnuts, well you should. My other favorite when fresh figs are in season is to split the figs open and then stuff with a mix of Roquefort/walnuts/proscuitto cubes and back in a hot over. Amazing combination. A small amout of Roquefort is also a great addition to a baked 4 cheese pasta. I buy my Roquefort at TJs and find it to be the same as the Roquefort at the grocery store two doors down. As to inexpensive blues, I haven't had much luck finding ones that don't have that Ammonia smell big time.
In the affordable category, Costco sells gigantic chunks of Gorgonzola and Cambozola which we use as our "house" blues. Crumbled on salads or sliced tomatoes, in dressing, on toast, in a sandwich, scary how fast that chunk disappears.
I love most blues but with a family of 4 cheese lovers, the lovely artisanal blues are for when the fam is gone and I'm alone.
Blue cheeses are highly distinctive, and "best" is very subjective.
Let's just say that cheaper supermarket blue cheeses are best saved for things where a distinctive flavor is neither desired nor necessary.
Also, one has to consider how the blue cheese is stored and maintained before purchase: you can waste a lot of money on improperly stored blue cheeses that have gone over to the ammonia side. This is particularly true for the softer blue cheeses, including, sadly, Rocquefort, which is a wonderful cheese when had in good form. (This is why good versions of these cheeses are more expensive, even without tariff issues - waste by spoilage has to be factored into pricing.)
Spain also has fine blue cheeses - Cabrales and Valdeon are particularly famed. I love Valdeon.
American artisinal blue cheeses are a fine, growing, specialty.
Your profile shows you are in Portland, OR, so you may get more specific advice if you post on your local board, for specific cheese shops.
In addition to the fine imported blue cheeses that were mentioned, there are also going to be many fine selections made locally to you in Oregon.
My favorites come from Rogue Creamery in southern Oregon, they make several different styles of blue cheese, you should be able to find them in local cheese shops and at farmer's markets. They will definitely fall into the "had for any price" category but they are very good cheeses.
I enjoy shopping at Winco supermarkets when I am in an area that has one, but they are more of a store for well-priced staple items, not for high-end specialty meat and cheese. So their brands are probably OK to use for recipes where blue cheese is not the star ingredient. For enjoying on its own, you will really like the high-end cheeses. Also, most specialty cheese shops will allow you to buy a very small portion (1 or 2 oz) so that makes the high per pound price a little more manageable. Most will also give you a few tastes to decide which you like best.
For an authoritative listing of cheese shops in Portland and elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest, check out this site and look for the store listings on the right-hand side:
Rogue Creamery's cheeses are indeed excellent and should be readily available in Portland shops. Their top-of-the-line Rogue River Blue just may be the best blue made in the US. It's also quite expensive. Also very good are their Caveman Blue and Crater Lake Blue. I'm less fond of their Oregon Blue and Oregonzola, but you may feel differently. A good cheese shop/department will have a selection of both domestic and imported blues.
The OP should definitely ask for a few samples. If a store won't sample their cheeses, I recommend going elsewhere. There's one thing I don't quite agree with. Specialty cheese shops generally do not cut pieces as small as an ounce or two. Often it is impossible to cut such a small amount cleanly from a wheel. It's reasonable to ask for 1/4 lb., but not for much less than that.
I'm with your grandmother on this one. Of the three major European blue cheeses--Roquefort from France, Stilton from England and Gorgonzola from Italy--my favorite is Roquefort. I find it to be nicely salty and crumbles well when cold, spreads wonderfully when brought to room temp. I certainly won't turn down the other two, but for me Roquefort is the King of the Blues. PS There are many, many artisan blues in the US, so there are many other choices depending upon where you live but Roquefort should be fairly easy to find.
re: Steve Green
Thank you for advising me how to buy the best Roquefort in attempt to find the taste I remember with grandma. Do not recall what brand she used to eat and wish I knew as it was usually the same brand and she was very picky. I remember her telling me about her travels in France. Like wine, with blue cheese, a person could blow money trying to figure out what they like.