If you find yourself heading to a swish party without a holiday sweater, you can always make up for it with a wedge of Rogue River Blue. It’s the elusive wedge everyone’s been looking for since it won the coveted “Best of Show” award from the American Cheese Society last year. Now it’s in season, just in time to nuzzle pears and sidle up to your most intoxicating eau de vie.
Don’t let the “blue” part of this cheese from Oregon scare you. Rogue River is the nun of cheeses – demure but sweetly spirited. Notice how few blue veins she’s got and how pretty her habit is (the rind is wrapped in grape leaves soaked in pear brandy). This is a moist, rich creature with a texture like New York cheesecake – clayey and crumbly.
I like to “relax” this cheese at room temperature, slice up some pears, and toss a few walnuts around its edges. Then I ready my mind for epiphany. Rogue River Blue is one of those cheeses that speaks to you through unfurling flavor. I can’t help myself from calling out the notes – breathlessly, wondrously – as I taste them: Are those hazelnuts? Wait, I’m tasting berries, no Morels…wait, wait…it’s a forest of mossy pine trees!
If you’ve ever seen a production of Angel’s in America, you may recall how the character of Harper hallucinates herself into Antarctica? Well, the experience of eating Rogue River Blue is similarly transformational. Just pretend you are somewhere along the damp Oregon coast, waving to Holsteins as you pass through rolling fields into vineyards.
Rogue River Blue is made in Central Point, Oregon at a creamery that is known for its dozen or so kinds of blue cheese. If you know any Roquefort addicts, introduce them to the work of artisan cheesemakers David Gremmels and Cary Bryant. Their roster of blues is extraordinary, and their business – which started in the ‘30s – represents one of America’s most longstanding artisan cheese companies.
You can read more about the history of Rogue Creamery here, or you can just tuck into some blue and start chanting.
Pairings: At a party, serve Rogue River Blue with bourbon, stout, or barleywine. If you can scare up a bottle of pear brandy from Clear Creek Distillery, the potion that enrobes this cheese, you’ll have an unforgettable love match.
For more holiday dairy magic, visit Madame Fromage
I would like to suggest that the Barleywine pairing be the English Style Barleywine such as as North Coast Breweries ‘Old Stock Ale’ . This style of Barleywine has a big malty backbone vs. the more American Barleywine which is very hop focused. My personal opinion the high hop profile has a tenancy to dominate the pairing.
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Rogue River Blue is the BEST blue cheese ever. It pairs well with wine and crackers and is killer on a burger. It can hold its’ own in any company.