When I launched the Blue Cheese Invitational at the beginning of March, I started with Maytag, an accessible American blue. Now, I want to take you to the outer limits, to a blue so bitey and cavey that I’m not sure what to make of it.
Black Ledge comes from Connecticut, hand-crafted by one of my favorite farmstead makers: Cato Corner. This mother-son team turns out some of the stinkiest domestic cheeses I have ever nibbled.
Hooligan, my dream cheese, comes from Cato Corner – it’s a washed-rind that looks like a moon pie and tastes like a boozy, gooey peanut cluster, minus the chocolate. Rappleree, also from Cato, looks and tastes like a really moist cheesecake that has been left to soak in a foot bath. It’s rank, deliciously so, but the locker-room quality is definitely over the top.
In keeping with Cato Corner’s strong-cheese focus, Black Ledge trumps many domestic blues in terms of its eye-popping hook, but it’s not sharp so much as it is earthy. If you’ve ever read a Seamus Heaney poem ("the cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap/ Of soggy peat…"), you understand what I mean by “earthy.”
Black Ledge tastes like something pulled from a bog. Like a cheese that has been bandaged, buried, and later pulled from a crypt. I imagine a creature with one eye carrying it home on one shoulder, then eating it between damp fingers, alongside a pint of Guinness.
And so March ends and April begins, with the scent of moss and bedrock. Thus ends the Blue Cheese Invitational. On to spring!