Blue Cheeses

I remember when I was a child I used to think that blue cheese was gross because it had mold in it. At that time I didn’t know that cheese is basically the controlled spoilage of milk, meaning there is mold on all of it! The difference with blue cheese is that the mold spores inside the cheese are exposed to oxygen and thus they turn blue instead of staying white. There are various different mold spores that can be added to create the bluing, however the majority of them these days are made in a lab and shipped out to cheese makers. Originally blue cheese was made from spores on moldy bread (which is where they idea that blue cheese is not gluten-free comes from, I assume). These days nobody has time to use moldy bread so people with Celiac Disease can enjoy blue cheese as much as everyone else.

Once the curds and the mold spores are put into the moulds they are pressed in accordance to the softness of the finished product. Sometimes they use pressure to squeeze out the moisture, but any that are creamy they just use the weight of gravity to squeeze out all the moisture. Some of the very old methods of making blue cheeses do not require the addition of any spores to the curds because they would be aged in caves where the mold was already present in the air, so the simple puncturing of the cheese would allow the mold to get in and the blueness would appear. Essentially, how they make blue cheese now, as opposed to white cheese with mould spores in it, is by puncturing a bunch of holes in the cheese when it is being aged to allow the air in and the mold to breathe. Larger producers will use machines to do this, but many smaller producers will do this by hand. One of the advantages of doing it by hand is that you can determine the density of the holes. Cheeses that weigh more would require more holes punctures than cheeses of less weight, even if the wheels are the same size.

Condiments- Mammo Arbouse (made in Corsica and Sardinia, latin arbitus, bitter), Lanza Fig (white fig jam), Botanic Blossom Wild Honey (from the Greek islands), Wedderspoon Beechwood Honey

Wines- Camin Larredya Jurancon sec 2013 (left on the lees), Piaugier Sablet 2014 (spicy finish), Smith & Woodhouse Late Harvest Vintage Harvest 2002 (port)

  1. Cashel Blue, Tipperary Ireland Cow’s milk- An easy, pleasant blue without the edge. It is creamy, not a lot of heft not much rind.
    1. Condiments- It is really good with the figs, even better with the arbitus, delicious with blossom honey, and less good with the Beechwood (but still great)
    2. Wine- The toasty leese flavor of the white goes really well with this light blue. IMG_9759
  2. Bayrusher Blauschimmelkase, Allgau Germany Cow’s milk- Kind of like a brie with bluing. It has more of a pungent taste than the first and has a bit more bitterness, but it is balanced by the cream and the higher fat content.
    1. Condiments- very good with the arbitus, and with the fig, the Beechwood honey is really good but kind of gets lost, and is delicious with the blossom honey.
    2. Wine- The wine is very similar as the first one here. IMG_9761
  3. Bio Bleu, Antwerpen Belgium Cow’s milk- Made from raw milk, this cheese was much smellier than the first two. It has that very nasal-passage-clearing feel in the mouth, organic. A little bit darker and much stronger, it almost burns the back of your throat. The flavor lingers forever.
    1. Condiments- arbitus is really good, the figs get a bit lost, beechwood is really good, also really good with the blossom (I like the texture of this honey a lot)
    2. Wine- The slight acidity of the white goes well, the red stands up a bit better the the intense flavor of the cheese and it has a longer finish like the cheese. IMG_9762
  4. Fourme D’ambert, Auvergne France Cows milk- This cheese comes from the biggest cheese production of middle France. It is a classic french one, creamier and less pungent than the last cheese (which is actually still lingering in my mouth), it has some yeasty flavors.
    1. Condiments- good with arbitus, really good with fig, both the honeys are delicious, I could eat honey and blue cheese all day.
    2. Wine- It is good with the white, it’s a bit stronger than the first two but similar with the white as cheese 3. The red is good too, since the cheese is stronger. IMG_9763
  5. Persille Rambouillet, Ile de France Goat’s milk- A different type of creamy texture, less pungent still, but has a different goaty flavor. It is kind of tangy.
    1. Condiments- quite good with the arbitus, good with the fig, beachwood has a nice floral flavor that contrasts with the tang, I really like it with the blossom honey.
    2. Wine- The acidity of white wine cuts it well, the cheese kind of gets lost with the red.IMG_9764
  6. Blu della Spazzacamino Piedmony Italy, Goat’s milk- Made from raw milk, this cheese is very milky. It has a much smoother tang than 5, but lingers and coats the mouth. Kind of sweet, smells much more like a goat than it tastes.
    1. Condiments- arbitus is good, the sweetness of the fig compliments well, the beachwood honey is a good match, again the blossom takes the cake
    2. Wine- The white wine is good (acidity and cream again), so is the red, but the spice at the end is good.IMG_9765
  7. Shropshire Blue, Nottinghamshire UK, Cow’s milk- The orange color is caused by annatto seeds, which don’t give it any actual different flavor. It has a slightly harder texture, rather pungent but not overpowering and is rather mellow.
    1. Condiments- It is really good with the arbitus, good with the fig, really good with the beachwood, and I like the blossom with everything.
    2. Wine- Very good with the redIMG_9766
  8. Stilton Farmhouse, Nottinghamshire OK, Cow’s milk- Very in your nose, like wassabi. The cheese is a bit mineraly, and kind of bitter,
    1. Condiments- The arbitus is delicious, the fig is good, both honeys are good (but the blossom honey is better).
    2. Wine- I was not a huge fan of this cheese with the red, but I like it with the port.IMG_9767
  9. Stichelton, Nottinghamshire UK Cow’s milk- A raw milk cheese, it’s more complex and a bit more delicate.
    1. Condiments- really good with the fig, and the arbitus is good, as are both honey’s
    2. Wine- good with both the red and the port!IMG_9768
  10. Gorgonzola Isolabella Lombardy Italy Cow’s milk- Another raw milk cheese. This one is more animaly, and the pink part tastes a bit like bacon, which is kind of weird and unexpected. It is very milky, and different but subtle.
    1. Condiments- great with the honeys and the arbitus.
    2. Wine- It is good with portIMG_9769
  11. Strachin Lombardy Italy Cow’s milk- Raw milk again. It smells like cat food, very smelly, different, and weird. At this point my palate was a bit overwhelmed to really taste much of anything anymore.
    1. Condiments- good with the fig and the honeys.
    2. Wine- Loved the port with this cheeseIMG_9770
  12. Gorgonzola Piccante Lombardy Italy Cow’s milk- Raw milk and very very intense. It has that in your nose feeling like several of the others did.
    1. Condiments- I ran out of condiments at this point
    2. Wine- The port was the only thing I could taste with this cheese. IMG_9771
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