Four Baby Blue Cheeses for Beginners

Four Beginner Blue Cheeses for Beginners on http://www.theculinarylife.com

- Four beginner blues in a cheese plate for blue newbies. -

Blue cheese is a luscious treat, and those of us indoctrinated into the Sacred Order of the Blue are beholden to the deepest, darkest, most peppery Penicillium mold the dairy world has to offer. Then there are the other folks, the ones who shrink back at the mere mention of blue cheese, the piquant aroma sending them scurrying into another room. This cheese plate is for them.

Here’s a little secret I don’t share very often: I used to be one of those fearful blue newbies, terrified that even a smudge of blue cheese might make its way into my mouth without me realizing, sullying my palate for the rest of the evening with its oily, spicy, pop of flavor that lingered for hours. No bueno.

After a chance meeting with Roaring Forties, a particularly heady variety of blue, I was forever changed into a blue disciple. Now you can’t keep me away from the stuff, and at any given time I have at least a pound of some pungent blue tucked away in my fridge. It’s a star in almost any cheese plate I build.

As an olive branch to those who may be wary of anything blue cheese-related, I dedicate this post to your cheese education. Below you’ll find four varieties of blue that aren’t a sucker punch to the face; rather these cheeses display a gradient of compelling flavors, only a small portion of that range being their blue nature. This cheese plate may be the ones that turn you, dear blue-fearing reader, into a born-again blue zealot, one that tucks a secret wedge away for your own enjoyment so that you won’t have to share it with anyone else.

Four Beginner Blue Cheeses for Beginners on http://www.theculinarylife.com - Chiriboga Blue, a simply complicated little cheese –

Chiriboga Blue
Bavaria, Germany – Cow’s Milk
Created by a talented cheesemaker who happens to be an Ecuadorian transplant to Germany, this cheese carries with it the stout flavors of many lands: fatty, creamy, grassy, sweet, and nutty. There’s a bite of blue here, to be sure, but it’s not all up in yo’ face like the cigarette girl at a nightclub. Rather, Chiriboga’s blue notes skip in after lingering a second on your tongue, indulging in a short, playful go-around on the dance floor, before giving you a kiss goodbye and disappearing into a gentle cloud of aromatic, barn-yardy funk. You’ll find hints of mushroom and toasted hazelnut in different bites, depending on where the veins of blue dot the landscape of your particular wedge. Those new to the blue may fall in love with Chiriboga’s tender texture, making a compelling case for sticking around to enjoy another subtly spicy bite.

Four Beginner Blue Cheeses for Beginners on http://www.theculinarylife.com - Bay Blue, a crackery treat with gusto -

Bay Blue
Point Reyes, California – Cow’s Milk
Quite possibly my favorite blue cheese EVAR, Bay Blue is ripe and complex while still remaining a dairy pleasure of the simplest sort. There’s a subtle spark of peppery blue-ness here, nestled amongst its initial impression of rich, fatty sweetness. This blue spark isn’t overpowering, though, and anyone historically anti-blue may find gold in this variety. The first thing that hits me when I taste Bay Blue is an undeniable yeasty “hello!” that makes me think of crackers slathered with cultured butter and sprinkled with fine sea salt. Blue lovers will appreciate this cheese’s straightforward personality, while blue newbs may be tempted into submission by its feathery layers of Penicillium. A wonderful treat on its own, or served with fresh veggies.

Four Beginner Blue Cheeses for Beginners on http://www.theculinarylife.com - Dolcelatte blue, a sweet, creamy dream of a cheese -

Dolcelatte
Lombardy, Italy – Cow’s Milk
How could you not love a cheese whose name literally means “sweet milk?” And that’s the very first characteristic you’ll notice in this soft, fatty blue cheese. That first bite tastes very nearly sugared, before the spice kicks in a moment later. Dolcelatte is an exercise in focus – allow it to slowly melt across your tongue, then observe as the flavor flows from sweet to peppery to lactic in the span of a second. There’s a persistent blue-ness here, savory in its leanings, making me think back to a particularly veggie-heavy beef soup my mom used to make when I was a kid. A little herbal and a little sour, all of Dolcelatte’s traits are balanced against its inherent sweetness that threatens to sweep you off your feet and carry you into the nearest grass-filled meadow. A great melty cheese if you’re looking for something to mix into a burger or crumble over a warm pasta salad.

Four Beginner Blue Cheeses for Beginners on http://www.theculinarylife.com - Saint Agur, a buttercream blue if there ever was one -

Saint Agur
Auvergne, France – Cow’s Milk
Salt lovers, raise your hands. This fine French beauty is going to show you what’s what in the brine department. Luscious and velvety, creamy and warm, Saint Agur is just begging to be crumbled into a green salad or rolled across a warm slice of sweet bâtard in a luxurious, penetrating blanket of buttercream blue. Cheese zealots will fall over themselves for Saint Agur’s crisp spice, while those still honing their tolerance for the blue will come away from this cheese reveling in its textural beauty. Regardless of what camp you’re planted in, this cheese is forthcoming while not jumping the gun on its more subtle traits. Sidenote: I once used this to cheese to make some delicate, buttery sablés.

Question: Do you have a favorite blue cheese that isn’t a major sock in the tastebuds? Which mellower blues do you enjoy?

 


A few more intimate cheese shots that I simply adore:

Four Beginner Blue Cheeses for Beginners on http://www.theculinarylife.com - Bay Blue, up close and personal -

Four Beginner Blue Cheeses for Beginners on http://www.theculinarylife.com - Chiriboga, unleashed -

Four Beginner Blue Cheeses for Beginners on http://www.theculinarylife.com - Fin! -

Comments

  1. I am one of those blue cheese zealots you’ve mentioned, but apparently I didn’t know a lot about this type of cheese. I often used blue cheese for my sauce, pizza and dressing recipes but I used regular Roquefort pretty much all the time and didn’t know how many varieties are available. I’ve made some dressing a couple of days ago according to this recipe
    But this time, I used Bay Blue and it was fabulously delicious. I also bought some Saint Agur and added it to my salad. It was good but I made a mistake and added some salt and the salad became way too salty. Anyways, thanks for the recommendations!

    • Steph Stiavetti says:

      I love Bay Blue – it’s got such a wonderful flavor and texture. And yes, a lot of blues are really salty, and in fact leave folks feeling really thirsty after indulging. I learned that one the hard way!

      So glad I could share a few new cheeses with you, and that you enjoyed them. :)

Trackbacks

  1. […] It’s these other traits that we’re focusing on today. Below you’ll find three goat cheeses that stand outside of the crowd, some with swagger, others with more sensitivity. While these cheeses may provide a hint of that tart goaty profile, they are more subtle and complex than your everyday varieties of chevré. Folks who have historically thumbed their nose at goat cheeses might very find this cheese plate the perfect introduction to a whole new world of dairy love. […]

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