When I told my friend the Blue Cheese Brit that I was planning to eat blue cheese for a month, he snickered. The Brit, a frequent face on this blog, works in a medical lab by day and returns to his own personal cheese cave by night. He is an airy dairy vampire.
The Brit will tell you, in his Scottish accent, that there is a regular rotation at his house in Philadelphia – meaning, he rotates blue cheeses in and out of his diet depending on the season and his whim.
“This winter, I’ve been on a weekly diet of Saint Agur and Cremifacto,” he told me, as he muddled through Di Bruno’s wrappers in his fridge. “I can’t imagine living without them. They are sooooo creamy.”
He wanted me to tell you that if you are considering a blue cheese vocation you “simply must” spend an evening with Saint Agur. He recommends a weekly wedge, administered with dried cranberries and walnuts.
Saint Agur is a cow's milk double-crème blue (60 percent butterfat) with a gentle boldness. In wine terms, it’s a Pinot – not hardy like a Cabernet or simple like a Beaujolais, but pleasantly frisky.
Roquefort, France’s premier blue, is headstrong and salty – too much for some. Saint Agur is much lighter on the salt but still an excellent cheese, the kind of cheese you could eat every night after work.
And serve to cheese aficionados.
How to Serve Blue Cheese
If you’re hosting a blue cheese party, here are a few little tricks I learned from the Blue Cheese Brit. He is such a wonder – a master host who can appear relaxed even when he has a crown roast and several fowl in the oven. One day, I aspire to be his equal.
1. Always serve your cheese at room temperature. That’s when flavors will be most potent. Just leave cheese on the counter for an hour while you pish-posh about the house before guests arrive.
2. Keep a decent sherry in your cupboard, along with a ready supply of dried fruit and nuts. If bezzie mates pop in, you can create an instant buffet.
3. Blue cheese goes well with baguette and oaty biscuits. Freeze leftover baguette rounds, then you can toast them up in a flash.
4. When you taste cheese, smell it first. With blues, you may detect a flinty scent, vegetal hints, or a leathery aroma. Say, “Gorgeous.” Then drop a crumb on your tongue. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth as you eat. Then, you’ll taste the full range of flavors.
5. Flavorful cheeses often have lots of notes that are fun to distinguish. In blues, look for hints of: grape, white chocolate, flint, watercress, earth, cream, black pepper, salt, roasted nuts, leather.
6. Common blue cheese pairings: sliced pear, walnuts, figs (fresh or dried), chutney, candied pecans – anything sweet, even mango.
7. In the glass: stout, barley wine, Sauternes, port, sherry.
8. Serve blue cheese after a meal, not before. It’s heavy and salty, a nice finisher, while lighter cheeses – particularly goat or bloomy styles– go well before, alongside beer or bubbly.