HOW TO BEAT THE BLUES, A BLUE CHEESE THROWDOWN.
It’s now 2015, and officially the time of year to grapple with virtuous resolutions of self-improvement and personal development. We’re sure you have plenty of ideas for yourself, but we at Di Bruno Bros. would like to issue you a January Challenge of our own—to completely dominate the World of Blue Cheese.
If blue cheese gives you pause, you aren’t alone. The snakey, stripey blue veins and pungent, spicy flavor have scared off even the most adventurous eaters. But trust us when we say a everlasting love for blue cheese is a taste you won’t be sorry you acquired. Many of us mongers have had to travel the path from blue cheese fearin’ to blue cheese lovin’ ourselves. And here’s how we did it:
STEP 1: CREATE YOUR TEAM.
Start by explaining your quest for blue cheese mastery, and ask for a recommendation for a ‘Beginner Blue’. But why would you need a monger? Seems self-explanatory, doesn’t it? Go to the case yourself and pick out a blue cheese that ‘looks’ tame—fewer veins, more paste. Not so easy—looks can be deceiving, and some of the mildest, creamiest blues can pack a mean blue cheese punch. Our mongers spend their days tasting and re-tasting every wheel we sell, honing in on which blues are mildest to strongest. Let them blue cheese you, they live for this kind of stuff.
Beginner Blues we recommend:
Phase 1: Mycella Blue — Mild, creamy, and with a hint of sweet custard flavor. We call this one “The Converter.”
Photo: Chiriboga Blue.
Phase 2: Chiriboga Blue — We like to eat this German blue with chocolate—for breakfast, lunch, dinner or for a round of serious fireplace snacking.
STEP 2: PAIR EM’ UP.
One way to ease yourself into blue cheese-ness is to partner each bite of blue with a well-matched accompaniment. As a general rule of thumb, sweet accompaniments are the way to go for a blue beginner. Chocolate sauces, jam, honey, maple syrup, candied nuts – these are all perfect pairings to get yourself comfortable with a life of blue. Fruit preserves with just a hint of acid, such as a pear or apple butter, work exceedingly well also. Blues tend to be salty cheeses, and the sweet-salty-pungent interplay of the pairing can often elevate the combo into a flavor experience greater than the sum of its parts.
Accompaniments we recommend:
- Di Bruno Bros. Fig & Acacia Honey Jam — Try our jam as a glaze for roast pork or chicken, or as a delicious condiment for cakes, jelly rolls, tartlets & pies. It is also a great compliment to flavor your yogurt or to top waffles and pancakes.
- Nocciolata Hazelnut Cocoa Spread — This 100% organic hazelnut spread is made from Italy’s famed Piedmont hazelnuts, milk and cocoa. The delectable combination of organic ingredients, including raw cane sugar, hazelnuts, cocoa, and milk, combine to create a smooth, creamy topping for crêpes, waffles, toast, ice cream, and anything in between. 100% organic, gluten free, egg free, and corn free.
- Honey Roasted Pecans — A touch of honey gives these nutty, rich pecans a hint of sweetness and heightens the flavor of any dish or recipe that calls for pecans. They are a delicious addition to cheese plates, salads, adding a crunch for more texture and flavor. These delicious honey roasted pecans have become a favorite of our customers for their superior quality.
- Tait Farms Apple Butter — Made the old fashioned way, Tait’s Apple Butter is cooked in a big kettle with no additional sweeteners or spices added. Just the pure essence of apples and cider cook down into a perfectly smooth spread.
Step 3: SET A SCHEDULE, WITH BLUE CHEESE GOALS
Set up a regular blue cheese exploration schedule—we recommend 2-3 times per week for best results. See your Cheesemonger often, and mix it up! Try new pairings, new blues of varying difficulties, and always check in with yourself and your monger. Palate fatigue? Take it easy with a rest day or a wedge of a beginner blue. Feeling all blue cheese crazy and raring to go? Ask your monger to advance you to a next level blue cheese.
Intermediate Blues we recommend:
Phase 3: Point Reyes Blue — Point Reyes production uses microbial based rennet to create the curds, meaning that it is suitable for vegetarisn. It is also certified kosher. This cheese is produced in the cliffs high above Tomales Bay in California from the raw milk of a single herd of Holsteins. Modeled after Danish Blue and Maytag, Point Reyes is mild and creamy with a perfect sweet and salty balance. Point Reyes pairs nicely with Port, Framboise, red grapes or Amarena cherries. This cheese works well with bitter greens or beef which sings on a cheese board.
Photo: Craig Lee
Phase 4: Bay Blue — Despite being the newest cheese in the venerable Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company’s lineup, Bay Blue has already taken a first place at the 2014 ACS Awards. The creamery uses milk only from their own herd of grass-fed cows, and the farm is located in one of the most beautiful spots in Northern California. Make no mistake – that same beauty shines through in these natural-rinded cave-aged wheels. Bay Blue has a gentle blue flavor and a pronounced, vanilla ice cream-like sweetness chased by a moderately salty finish. On a cheese plate, this pasteurized blue plays well with others (pair with nuts, honey, or proscuitto) and is sure to be a crowd pleaser!
Step 4: TAKE IT TO LEVEL 11.
Once you’ve built up the strength, endurance, and flexibility of your palate, you’ll be ready to take a bite out of these more gutsy blues. Get ready, your time has come to conquer.
Advanced Blues we recommend:
Phase 5: Glacier Wildfire Blue — A rich and silky blue; decadently creamy, with fiery chili pepper flakes added in. Carr Valley Cheese is steeped in awards and excellence. Fourth-generation owner, Sid Cook, is the most celebrated cheesemaker in the United States and approaches cheesemaking with “Old World craftsmanship” and innovation. All milk for Carr Valley cheese comes from family farms within 50 miles of each cheesemaking facility.
Phase 6: Valdeon — A mixed milk, Spanish blue wrapped in sycamore leaves. With an intense, spicy blue flavor, this cheese is definitely not one for the faint of heart!