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Blue cheese vs. Feta cheese

Which do you prefer in salads? I love blue cheese but can't stand feta -- it's like eating salt! Strange, since their sodium levels are similar. what gives?

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  1. Depends on the salad. I love both cheeses. Nay, ALL cheese (although I'm not convinced I'd like that maggoty Sicilian one...)
    Generally, I'd say blues like to be the star in their own course, or whatever, but feta suits a more of supporting role.
    I like pretty much all cheese to be accompanied by something sweet. Beetroot, pear, muscatels, caramelised walnuts: it cuts the saltiness.

    3 Replies
    1. re: pippimac

      > that maggoty Sicilian one...

      Thank you for that stomach-turning trip down the Wikipedia rabbithole.

        1. re: MrBook

          Actually, the cheese that I believe pippimac is thinking of is casu marzu. It's from Sardinia, not Sicily.

      1. Blue cheese or Feta cheese? Yes, please.

        1 Reply
        1. Try some imported feta such as those from France, Bulgaria or Greece. They are less salty and creamier than most domestic.

          5 Replies
            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

              I am salivating at the thought of enjoying feta from a place that extends further than my Atheno's black pepper Feta.

              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                I use Bulgarian when I can't find a good French feta. It's a little more pungent than the French but still way better than the average domestic feta.

                1. re: scubadoo97

                  When Bulgarian is good, it's very good - a lot of grassy meadow notes. But I find it hit or miss as to the intensity of the flavor (not salt, but flavor). I wish it were more consistent, but then again, it does reflect a natural product that varies with the milk.

              2. re: PBSF

                And also, take the blocks out of the brine they come in and soak them in fresh water. Dh is from Turkey and quite the connoisseur of fetas - it's amazing that the feta he gets (we buy imported here in the US) are never very salty if properly dealt with. I agree that domestic (to the US) feta, such as Athenos is not representative of true (good) feta. It's like saying a tub of Frigo shredded parmesan cheese is representative of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

                To answer the OP question, though, I prefer gorgonzola on my salads when I am having a creamy dressing such as Creamy Garlic, but feta if I am having a vinaigrette. In fact, the gorgonzolas that I eat on salads taste more salty than the fetas I eat on salads.

              3. Depends on the salad. And depends on the blue cheese.

                Feta works well as a contrast in, say, a Cypriot village salad but, as the OP says, can be very salty. Blue cheese is such a wide subject that I find it impossible to generalise. I'm not a great fan of cheese in salads at the best of times but some work better than others - a creamy Blacksticks Blue with crisp lettuce, apple and walnuts is a winner and it wouldnt be the same with, say, Roquefort.

                1. Sounds like you've been eating domestic (American) feta, which is total crap. Try some Greek (Dodoni is my favorite). Failing that, French or Bulgarian.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: pikawicca

                    That's my favorite, too, sold in Costco. To reduce salt, it can be rinsed before use, but I like salt.
                    I love both cheeses, but I don't bake dinner dishes like shrimp with feta, kalamata olives and tomato, with blue cheese. I do love some gorgonzola or roquefort on steak, though.

                  2. i have to choose? i don't like this game.

                    the others have already covered what i was going to say - depends on the cheese AND on the salad.

                    have you enjoyed feta in other dishes? and how do you feel about other noticeably salty cheeses like Asiago, Pecorino, Parm, Comte, Kasseri, Cheshire...?

                    1. Blue chess is more pungent and adds a tang that you don't get with feta, also tastes better over feta if you're eating a steak salad. Since feta lacks the moldy sharpness it seems more salty but is great in salads that do not have a strong (or salty) dressing, delicious with a simple olive oil and vinegar. And I second that you must try Greek Feta (in a block, not crumbled).

                      1. Funny enough, I can't stand bleu but love feta of all kinds. The moldy taste is what gets me, I don't like any of the moldy cheeses.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: rockandroller1

                          I like many blue cheeses but the rind on a brie is just a little too moldy tasting for my tastes.

                          1. re: scubadoo97

                            Brie isn't bleu...at least it's not **supposed** to be!

                            (there's a bleu Brie, but it's a quirky specialty, and not a true Brie)

                            I love both (some bleus more than others) -- but each in their own appropriate dish.

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              I think Cambozola is sometimes marketed as a blue "Brie".

                              We also make a seem-alike blue Brie in the UK, which is pleasant enough in a mild, insufficiently kick-arse way - http://www.pongcheese.co.uk/shop/cots...

                              1. re: sunshine842

                                Yes I know, just commenting on the tolerance for mold

                          2. Feta (I prefer the Israeli feta that is sold at Trader Joe's) is best for salads; I only care for blue cheese (and then Roquefort) in a classic wedge salad. Blue cheese is otherwise best reserved for more appropriate uses.

                            1. As Harters mentioned upthread -- you cannot make a good choriatiki (Greek peasant salad) without feta. Throwing blue cheese in that, otoh, would be an abomination.

                              I like a salad of mixed bitter greens such as Belgian endive, curly endive and radicchio with a nice blue cheese, some Anjou pear and toasted or caramelized walnuts with a zippy vinaigrette.

                              And domestic buttermilk blue cheese is perfect for blue cheese dressing.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: linguafood

                                Oh, yes, I'm going to try that salad, lingua. Although without the curly endive - something I detest about the texture and always leave it on the side of the plate in restaurants.

                                1. re: Harters

                                  I made a curly endive salad once for friends. I had washed it THOROUGHLY. One of them found a slug/snail (and not one of the nice, garlicky ones). Oh, my. Those curls are great hiding places...

                                  Oak leaf is nice as well, though I haven't seen it stateside so far.

                                  1. re: linguafood

                                    It always seems to get stuck in my throat.

                                    Oak leaf is indeed very nice. It's part of the mixed bag I got from the supermarket today.

                                    1. re: Harters

                                      The slug got caught in your throat?

                                      1. re: EWSflash

                                        I doubt it. Linguafood said the friend found it.

                                    2. re: linguafood

                                      Here in Austin there's a farmer's market every Saturday morning, and one of the vendors always has oak leaf. You may need to check out the smaller specialty places to find it.

                                2. I don't like feta and I adore bleu cheese; but as usual, I have learned a lot reading this thread, and I'm sure I've only ever had crappy Athenos crumbled grocery store feta.

                                  I will try some real feta. Thanks.

                                  17 Replies
                                  1. re: laliz

                                    And, if you get the good stuff, be sure to store it in brine. The standard feta brines are

                                    Light brine=100g salt per 1 liter water (about 25g per cup)
                                    Medium brine=150g salt per 1 liter water (about 37g per cup)

                                    If you like it less salty, you can switch to fresh water a day or two ahead, but I wouldn't store it for long in fresh water, as it kinda denatures feta, at least in my experience.

                                    1. re: Karl S

                                      I have to disagree with this... and it's on the authority of my in-laws from Turkey, so I respect their opinions as experts in this particular case. Feta is cured in brine. It's what makes it so salty and also preserves it. Once it has been purchased, it needs to be put into fresh water. The salt will leach out of the cheese into the water and the water will actually become a diluted brine itself. This is how I was taught to do it. If the cheese is still too salty, the water can be changed until the feta is mild. It can also be soaked in milk. But no, do not store feta in brine. The very act of what you are calling "denaturing" (it's actually more akin to desalinating it) is what makes feta so delicious and mild (to taste). Feta shouldn't be overly salty. Straight out of brine is harsh and the flavors are masked by the salt. Feta should be mild, creamy, and with just a hint of salt that enhances its flavor, not overwhelms it. In fact, in Turkey, you go into a grocery store and they have dozens of different fetas on display that all have very different taste components and salt is not the overwhelming taste difference. Feta is so much more than just salt.

                                      1. re: velochic

                                        How long do you keep it in fresh water? I keep feta for a few weeks (I am single). If I kept it in fresh water for weeks, it would fall apart. Almost all the guidance I've read on storing feta in fresh water talk about it in terms of hours, not weeks.

                                        1. re: velochic

                                          One of the reasons I'm attracted to Bulgarian and French feta. Less salt. Infact when I have soaked these fetas in fresh water they start to taste like really good goat or sheep cheese. They will go sour faster if the brine is reduced to a level that is too low so eat it quickly.

                                          1. re: velochic

                                            I have to disagree with your disagreement. Good feta should not have to be desalinated by removing its brine and immersing it in water. A properly prepared brine contains just enough salt so that the cheese does not lose salt through leaching out (brine too weak) or become saltier (brine too strong). In my opinion, feta SHOULD have a distinct saltiness on the tongue, along with a noticeable tang and a smooth, creamy texture. Brine can get "funky" over time. If it takes on an objectionable odor, simply discard it and replace it with your own brine, as Karl S has suggested above.

                                            My "gold standard" for feta is Greek feta, which must be made from at least 70% sheep's milk, with the remainder, if any, coming from goat's milk. (No cow's milk is allowed in true Greek feta.) The best Greek feta available in the US is the barrel-aged feta imported by Mt. Vikos (80% sheep, 20% goat). However, the Dodoni brand mentioned above (100% sheep) is quite good and has the advantage of being more widely available (especially if you have a Costco in your area) and cheaper.

                                            1. re: cheesemaestro

                                              Good feta SHOULD have to be rinsed. Otherwise it wasn't properly brined. I'm going on how they do it in my dh's family in Istanbul. Feta doesn't last weeks. It's consumed in a few days, so there is nothing to get "funky". Feta isn't meant to hang around for a week. The reason the salt needs to be removed is because the flavor of the feta is masked by too much salt. Sorry to continue to disagree, but I'm going defer to the advice of those I consider true experts, who are my in-laws in Turkey. To each his own, but this is how they do it and I like it the way they do it. Our gold standard isn't Greek feta. It's Turkish. ;) Greece hasn't cornered the market on feta... just the market on marketing feta. Also, I wouldn't use the Costco (yes, we have had it, and even have some now in the fridge) and Mt. Vikos as a baseline. If that is what you are using as comparison, then you're comparing apples to oranges. I absolutely disagree that Mt. Vikos is the best in the US. The best I've ever had in the US was from a Middle Eastern grocery on Devon Ave. in Chicago. It's not packaged... it's fresh. Most good fetas *are* found in Middle Eastern deli counters, not in plastic wrap. True feta with a good fat content will never fall apart and after a day or so, will mellow in salt so that its true personality shines through.

                                              1. re: velochic

                                                If you're talking about rinsing feta before serving it, I have no problem with that. I don't, however, advocate storing it in plain water.

                                                I've never had Turkish feta. I don't doubt that there is very good feta available in Turkey. I can only comment on the countries whose feta I'm familiar with: France, Bulgaria, Lebanon, Greece, the US (including several versions of feta made by so-called artisanal cheesemakers) and a couple of others. Of these, well-made Greek feta comes closest to my ideal. I like my feta to be made from (mostly) sheep's milk and I'm generally least pleased with cow's milk feta.

                                                In naming Mt. Vikos and Dodoni, I was suggesting brands of feta that have something approaching national distribution, even if they can't be found everywhere. I should have made that clearer. I'm sure than one can find exquisite feta in a particular local Middle Eastern grocery, such as the place you mention in Chicago. I have found feta in Middle Eastern stores to show a wide range in quality, from unmemorable to outstanding.

                                                I absolutely agree with the last part of your post. Feta should never be wrapped in plastic and it should not fall apart in a day or two. Its texture should be creamy and crumbly at the same time, not dry and crumbly.

                                                1. re: cheesemaestro

                                                  And not bitter and nasty like the stuff from the grocery store. When people tell me they don't like feta they usually have only that the packaged stuff from the big box stores. There is no comparison to the better made feta cheeses that exist in the world. I've turned a few feta haters around after they taste what it can be like.

                                                  1. re: cheesemaestro

                                                    Where I am, feta is almost invariably Greek or Cypriot in the supermarket, although occasionally Turkish in smaller shops. That said, only Greek feta can be called "feta" within the European Union as it has had PDO status since 2002.

                                                    1. re: Harters

                                                      yes -- the French feta (in the shops) is called Brebis. Same stuff, though.

                                                      My cheesemonger sells one that's a blend of cows' and sheeps' milk -- and it's gorgeous - creamy and tangy and salty -- I have trouble not nibbling enough of it to leave enough to put on the salad!

                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                        There was farm in North East England used to make "Yorkshire Feta" but, since the EU decision, now sells it as "Fine Fettle Yorkshire"

                                                      2. re: Harters

                                                        That makes sense that there would be one country of origin that can call this cheese"feta". In Turkey it's called beyaz peynir, but it's still feta, none the less. With the regulations in the E.U. I can understand the restrictions on labeling (Turkey isn't in the E.U.). I realize that they are very particular how certain foods and beverages can be "named"... well, and I guess kids, too, because many of the E.U. countries still have regulations on what you can call your kids, so there you go. ;) What is in a name, after all?

                                                        1. re: velochic

                                                          it's because the food producers all over Europe have been producing their specialties for generations...and to call sparkling wine produced in California by the "Champagne" moniker dilutes the meaning of the word and devalues the "specialness" of the sparkling wine produced east of Paris.

                                                          It's a pain in the butt to get used to -- but in a world that is becoming more and more uniform and mass-produced and consistent...long live the efforts of the Feta producers and Champagne producers and Roquefort and Stilton and Parmaggiano Reggiano producers out there to give us something truly special.

                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                            Oh, I understand the why. I've live in Europe twice in my adult life and am there often. I wasn't questioning or commenting on why they do it or that they do it at all. I was saying that it makes sense *BECAUSE* of these laws.

                                                            1. re: velochic

                                                              ah, ok. I read it as a WTH? comment.

                                                    2. re: velochic

                                                      I keep feta for weeks without decline in flavor.

                                                    3. re: cheesemaestro

                                                      I LOVE Mt Vikos, and got my shrimp baked with tomatoes, feta and kalamata olives from their package, but Dodoni is so much cheaper, so that's what I'm using.

                                              2. I've been crumbling feta into the tomato salads I've been making for the last two months, while the heirlooms are in, and since the salad sits for at least an hour before we eat it the salt leaches out well enough. The origin of the cheese and the milk from which it's made have varied, depending on what I find and how much I can spend, but of course the sheep's milk cheese from anywhere is the best, with goat coming in next.

                                                Which cheese I use in a salad depends on the salad. Feta is best for tomatoes, I think, but a good blue is what I want for bland greens. For something like arugula I'd stick with mozzarella or queso fresco.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Will Owen

                                                  one of the finest salads I've ever eaten was at a friend's house -- fresh baby greens with crumbled Roquefort, with slivered red onions, and fresh walnuts and pears from her trees and dressed with a humble vinaigrette.

                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                    Oh man- that's living, I tell ya what.

                                                2. I love both! Actually, I buy gorgonzola over bleu since that is the same price as bleu and it tastes a bit more "rich".

                                                  Whenever I make salad, I think about how much salt will be in the ingredients and then plan accordingly.

                                                  1. I love a strong goat's cheese (or feta) crumbled in an asparagus, pea and broad bean salad with a mint vinagrette. For me, the stronger the cheese, the better!

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: pj26

                                                      Do you not find that the strong flavour of the cheese overwhelms the delicate flavour of the peas and broad beads?

                                                      1. re: Harters

                                                        no, I think the saltiness of the cheese works really well with the sweet peas and the sharp cider vinegar dressing. I think it's an old Mark Hix recipe I picked up years ago

                                                        1. re: pj26

                                                          Thanks. Hix know his flavours - I've a lot of time for his style.

                                                    2. Love them both, though blue cheese is my favorite in most typical lettuce salads. If it's a cucumber, especially Greek salad, has to be feta. I love the feta cheeses that have herbs or spices added in.