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American Blue Cheeses -- Cheese(s) of the Month, April 2014

Fan that I am of Blue cheeses in general and of American cheese in particular, I've chosen this theme for April.

For starters, here are some links to the web sites of some of my favorite American blues.

https://www.pointreyescheese.com/poin...

Deep Ellum Blue http://www.mozzco.com/

Buttermilk Blue http://www.rothcheese.com/products/bu...

Rogue Creamery whole line Oregonzola, Crater Lake Blue, Rogue River Blue http://www.roguecreamery.com/store/ca...

Maytag Blue Cheese http://www.maytagdairyfarms.com/aspx/...

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  1. Gore-Dawn-Zola from Boucher Farm in Vermont. Yummy, but limited production and availability.
    Maytag is my go-to. I thought the Rogue River blue was harsh.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Veggo

      maybe a little, Veggo, but overall I like the whole line of Rogue Creamery's blues. especially Oregonzola.

      1. re: ChefJune

        Funny, I've had just the opposite feelings about Maytag vs. Rogue River blue. That's assuming we're talking about "Rogue River Blue" and not other blues by Rogue River Creamery (an important distinction!).

        I was hoping someone would do American blues!

        1. re: ChefJune

          Yes, Rogue does a good job on most of their varied line. I like their
          Echo Mountain Blue (A)
          Crater Lake Blue (B+)
          Rogue River Blue (B+)
          Caveman Blue (B-)
          Smokey Blue (C- , I don't like most smokey flavors)
          (Haven't found Oregonzola yet)

      2. It's not on the list but I love Jasper Hill Farms Bayley Hazen Blue, however my all time favorite blue cheese is a simple Maytage classic.

        1. l have found that Maytag after it's initial success was confirmed no longer ages their product as long and as a result it is far drier and chalkier than when first around. Thus for me it is a pass.
          Rogue River Blue in the leaves is my fave American blue and price notwithstanding a fabulous product.
          Never understood the love all have for Bayley-Hazen blue. While l feel Mateo and Andy are awesome, witness Winnimere, this one sort of bored me. guess l need a blue with more hair on it than this gives, like a Spanish Valdeon or Picos de Europa

          1. I'm not a big Maytag fan, but so many folks are that I decided to list it above.

            My favorite American blue is Point Reyes Blue. Altho I liked it better when Monte McIntyre was making it than I do now.

            Emmi-Roth in Wisconsin is the maker for Buttermilk Blue, of which I'm a big fan. They also make several other blues, including Moody Blue which is smoky. Their whole line of cheeses is outstanding, imho.

            1. Love blue cheese but have been a little disappointed in American blues, even the highly regarded ones. Seems like they are not as well rounded, balanced and interesting to me as European blues. Looking forward to digging in and seeing if I can change this perception.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Ridge

                Give Bay Blue from Point Reyes a try. It's new in the last year or so and I much prefer it to Original Blue. More info here,
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9121...

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  I just remembered I tried the Bay blue for the North American COTM and enjoyed it. Here is what I wrote:

                  Point Reyes Bay Blue. This was my favorite of the domestic blues I tasted this month. Velvety smooth paste with a small amount of crystals. Flavor is mellow. Blue cheese flavor is subtle and not overpowering. What sets it apart are complex buttery, caramelly layers of flavor.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    Interesting we both use velvety to describe it.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      Have not seen the Bay Blue around here, just the old favorite.

                  2. I've actually always wondered if American cheeses are exported? I don't believe I've seen them in Canada. But we miss a lot.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: julesrules

                      l see Rogue River leaf wrapped in Paris at a few high end cheese shops, the price is rafter reaching

                    2. My husband and I did a blind tasting of 4 different US Blues yesterday:

                      Point Reyes raw milk blue
                      Point Reyes bay blue
                      Black river blue from Wisconsin
                      Salemville Amish blue from Pensilvania

                      Our favorite was the Bay Blue followed by the Point Reyes Blue, followed by the Amish blue. The black river was in distant last place.

                      Here are my tasting notes:

                      Salemville Amish blue: salami, salty, dry. I liked this one better than my husband who thought it was way too salty.

                      Bay Blue: nutty, creamy, sherry, crystals. We loved this one and thought it was the only one as good as the better French Blues we tried during the French blue COTM.

                      Black river blue: Not much blue cheese flavor at all, boring. Husband thought it tasted identical to Monterey Jack. mediocre.

                      Point Reyes Blue. Sharp, fruity, tingly on the tongue. In the past I had versions of this cheese that I didn't like because they were musty and reminded me of corked wine. But this one lacked any mustiness and was very enjoyable. We liked the Bay Blue better but would buy this cheese again.

                      We tasted the cheeses with Spanish Oleroso Sherry and it was an excellent pairing. I am looking forward to tasting more US Blues.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Ridge

                        Thanks for the tasting notes. Hoping to scope out some Bay Blue this week.

                      2. I'm having a helluva time finding Bay Blue in New York. Whole Foods doesn't seem to carry it here. Anyone know for sure of a place that does?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ChefJune

                          It might not be available outside of California since production is still quite limited. You could contact Cowgirl, its distributor, to find out if it's in New York.
                          http://www.cowgirlcreamery.com/librar...

                        2. While my visits to the fromagerie were curtailed by a bug, DW brought home some Great Hill Blue Cheese from Stop&Shop. Sad to say that at most it rates a 'so-so'.

                          1. My order from Hook's in Wisconsin that arrived last Friday holds great promise. I'm thoroughly enjoying the sheeps milk gouda, which has a little crystal crunch behind its deliciousness. Makes me look forward to the Little Boy Blue, and the Ewe Calf to be Kidding blue. I gave the 10 year cheddar to friends, I still have a 12.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Veggo

                              I'll be looking forward to your report on those blues.

                            2. I picked up a couple of blues yesterday.

                              Big Rock Blue from Central Coast Creamery (CA) -- I liked this a lot. Dry enough to crumble, soft enough to spread, and a good balance of nutty aged milk and blue character, with just a hint of salt. It was a little gritty, but not unpleasantly so.

                              Red Rock Cheddar Blue -- made by Roelli Family Cheese Haus, this is a traditional Wisconsin orange cheddar with natural (i.e. not injected) blue veining. This it didn't care for -- the cheddar make the bluing bitter while still managing not to have much character itself.

                              1. I tried two more US blues his past weekend. Both were also discussed in the North American COTM.

                                First was the Boonter's blue from Anderson Valley CA. I was really looking forward to tasting this because I love Anderson valley and the people who work at the winery associated with it are super nice. But I didn't like it. This particular batch was salty and the manifestation of the blue flavor was a bit musty. But the biggest problem for me was the extreme dryness of the cheese. Not sure if this was intentional. I was left wondering what the cheesemakers were trying to achieve. Perhaps it was just an atypical batch?

                                The other cheese was Rogue river blue. In the past I have tried several blue cheeses from Rogue river and I think they are just not my style of blue cheese. They seem clunky and amateurish compared to good European blues. But maybe I just like the style of the European ones better. I thought the Rogue River blue was not bad but it had a sour tang that I found unappealing. And similar to the Boont, the manifestation of the blue cheese flavor was musty to me.

                                1. I tried two new-to-me American blues over the weekend.
                                  Ewe's Blues (loved the name much more than the cheese) from Old Chatham Sheepherding Company was unexpectedly sharp. I guess because it was sheeps milk, I was thinking more along the line of Roquefort, which it was nothing like. Glad I only bought a small wedge.

                                  Really liked Caveman Blue from Rogue Creamery in Oregon. I generally like their blues, and this was no exception. Quite robust, but had a creamy mouthfeel. We ate it with Mutsu apple slices for dessert.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: ChefJune

                                    I had some Ewe's Blue that I actually liked a bit better than Caveman Blue (and I do like Caveman Blue!). Perhaps yours was a little old.

                                  2. I'm nibbling on a wedge of EWE CALF to be KIDding, a blue from Hook's in Wisconsin. Made with cow milk, sheep milk and goat milk. Very pleasant! No harshness, slightly crumbly, not gluey.