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Bayley HazenBorn in the U.S.A.: Bayley Hazen Blue is made by Andy and Mateo Kehlers of Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont, in the style of the classic British Stilton but with its own distinct recipe. The Kehlers learned their craft at Colston-Bassett in Nottinghamshire.
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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

 

STEPHANIE ZONIS focuses on good foods and the people who produce them. KAREN HOCHMAN also contributed to this article.

 

 

December 2005
Updated December 2009

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Cheese-Butter-Yogurt

Blue Cheese: In Praise Of The Blues

Page 3: Some Of The Best American Blue Cheese

 

 

Great American Blue Cheeses

We could have written about a dozen other great American blues...and in the future, we will. Until then, here are some that should be tried sooner rather than later.

Some people steer clear of blue cheese, finding it sharp and salty. Not all blues are intense, just as not all goat cheeses are strong and “goaty.” If you’re just starting out with blue cheese, or if you’ve tried the stronger types and don’t fancy them, you might want to try a milder example of this genre.

As usual, a knowledgeable retailer is your best bet here, and a good cheesemonger will have no hesitation in allowing you to try a blue cheese before you buy it. If there’s no good retailer in your area, turn to the internet. Fine cheese merchants such as iGourmet, Murray’s Cheese, Ideal Cheese, or Formaggio Kitchen will offer multiple varieties of blues. You won’t be able to sample the cheese before purchasing it, but you should be able to find a good description and have any questions answered by phone or email. Share your tastes with the merchant, and you’ll get good recommendations in return.

Berkshire BlueBerkshire Blue Cheese. A raw milk artisan cheese made from Jersey cow’s milk in small batches, Berkshire Blue is made in Massachusetts by Michael Miller. This beautiful blue licenses the recipe of the famous blue made by the Willett Farm Dairy of Somerset, England. The main difference is that the U.S. version is aged an extra 15 days at 35ºF; by law, raw milk cheeses cannot be released before 60 days. This artisan cheese is made completely by hand, and by only one person. It is hand-stirred, hand-ladled and manually turned, resulting in an exceptionally creamy, smooth blue, mild yet very full-flavored. It isn’t too pungent or salty; Miller is known for having low levels of both acid and salt in his cheese. Berkshire Blue is one of my favorite American blues. ($20.00/half pound)

Deep Ellum Blue. Made by Paula Lambert of The Mozzarella Company, this cheese is named for the Dallas neighborhood where the factory is Deep Ellum Bluelocated, an area that in the past was home to legendary blues singers. Every cheese made by The Mozzarella Company is fascinatingly different in its category. Deep Ellum Blue is a creamy, spreadable blue, aged for at least two months and bathed with extra-virgin olive oil. It has no actual rind, only a diamond-scored, blue-mold-mottled exterior. The cheese is subtly flavored, not too strong and not too salty, with a robust and earthy flavor. It is delicious atop chicken, beef and veal dishes; and as with all blues, in salads and with Port and dessert wines. Read our full review of Mozzarella Company, ($17.50/pound)

Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company. Makers of the award-winning , the Giacomini clan in Marin County, California swear by their local environment on Tomales Bay, insisting that they couldn’t make the same cheese anywhere else. All milk used for their cheeses comes from their closed herd of Holsteins. Original Blue is somewhat drier, crumblier, and sharper than Berkshire Blue, but that’s only because the former is so creamy by comparison. It has raving fans and is a fine all-around table cheese. The company makes a creamy Original Blue Dip & Dressing that THE NIBBLE’s editorial director, a huge fan of all of the blues listed here, assures me is “to die for.” Read THE NIBBLE’s review of Point Reyes Original Blue, a Top Pick Of The Week.

Rogue Creamery Blues. We’ve previously written about Rogue Creamery’s Smokey Crater Lake Blue CheeseBlue, smoked for 16 hours over hazelnut shells, which made history in 2003 at the World Cheese Awards in London when it won the coveted Overall Best Blue Cheese, beating out entries from all over Europe. It’s part of a family of blues you could marry into—it won Best Overall Product Line, in any category, at this year’s Fancy Food Show. We say: meet the whole family! Invite all the Rogues over—Crater Lake Blue, Echo Mountain, Oregon Blue Vein, Oregonzola, Rogue River Blue and Smokey Blue—and have a tasting spanning different degrees of sharpness and texture. David and Cary, respectively the President and CEO of Rogue, are two of the nicest guys going. Read THE NIBBLE’s review of Smokey Blue. (3-Blue Sampler, $39.00)

Photo courtesy iGourmet.

Wine & Beer Pairings

While most red wines don’t pair well with strong, salty blues—and there are sweeter, semisoft blues to explore—Port and zinfandel are two to try, as well as, sparkling wine, Chardonnay, dessert wines, barleywine-style ale, Belgian ale, Trappist beer and stout. As a dessert, Roquefort and Sauternes are a classic pairing, the salty cheese balancing the sweet wine.

A little research and a few samples will hopefully have you singing the praises of the blues, as I do. Happy tasting!

HOW TO HOST A
CHEESE TASTING PARTY

Books For Cheese Lovers

Grilled Cheese cheeses of the world the cheese bible
Grilled Cheese: 50 Recipes to Make You Melt, by Marlena Spieler. Fifty mouthwatering new takes on a turophile’s favorite comfort food, plus an array of quick-to-make mustards and tips on choosing the perfect bread for each sandwich. Click here for more information. Cheeses of the World : An Illustrated Guide for Gourmets, by Bernard Nantet.The complete history of two hundred cheeses from thirty-seven different countries, with photos so gorgeous you could eat the page. Click here for more information. The Cheese Bible, by Christian Teubner. A wealth of information on this most popular  of foods. Educational information plus delicious recipes from simple
nibbles to elaborate guest dishes. Click here for more information.

 

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