If you can’t decide which cheese to buy this party season, why not serve three different blues with walnuts, figs and an elegant syrah or off-dry riesling? To help simplify the selection process, I've rounded-up my favourites below.
British Style Blues
These are dry-crusted, typically large blues with a firm, buttery texture and fine streaks of blue that look like shattered porcelain. They tend to be less salty than European-style blues, mellow and rounded rather than sharp with a hint of cocoa on the finish.
By all means, sneak a wedge of stilton into your fridge but make sure it's good. Sharp when young, stilton mellows with age – much like people.
Similar to stilton but with citrus notes, its bright tangerine-orange background and fine blue streaks make this delicious cheese a colourful addition to any festive cheeseboard.
Rhapsody Blue (Cartwheel Creamery) – Ashhurst
Beneath its grey-blue mouldy crust is a pale-cream interior with shafts of fine blue that are spicy and buttery, with distinct dark chocolate notes. This cheese is mellow, not strong. Consider this a great entry level blue for the faint-hearted.
Bleu de Gex Haut-Jura AOC France
Rarely found outside the Jura mountains where it's made, it is compact, almost hard and tastes of the wild meadows where the cows graze, giving the cheese herbaceous, savoury notes.
Bleu des Basque
Dense and creamy, this beautiful cheese has a slight sheen from the rich sheep’s milk, crunchy blue-grey veining, an earthy aroma and a taste that is spicy yet floral with sweet caramel notes.
European Style Blues
These have sticky, wet, rinds and higher moisture content than British blues, so they ripen quicker, are distinctly saltier, sharper, stronger and more tangy or acidic. The blue appears as splodges, pockets and crunchy streaks.
Blue Monkey Mount Eliza Cheese
Elegant compact cheese with well-scattered blue streaks, this cheese has a hot peppery bite and a very creamy, melt-in-your-mouth feel.
Bleu d’Auvergne AOC
Slightly crumbly like Roquefort but made with cows’ milk, I love this spicy, sharp, juicy blue with a freshness on the finish. Excellent crumbled into salads or used as a base for pasta sauce.
Roquefort Papillon AOC
This iconic French ewes’ milk blue is peppery, crumbly and moist with crunchy blue streaks. Every luscious mouthful hints of sweet, salty caramel and Papillon is my favourite maker.
Soft White Style Blues
These blues grow the soft white rind typical of brie or camembert over a voluptuous interior that has been injected with blue penicillium mould. Mild, mushroomy, sweet, spicy rich and very moreish...
A young brie style cheese with thick steaks and pockets of blue mould through the creamy, voluptuous interior. The taste is mushroomy and sweet with a mild, spicy, tang.
The white crust is dusted with ash while the almost liquid interior has blotches of blue that give it a more savoury, peppery bite than the Bresse Bleu and the rind can be quite pungent if over ripe.
When it comes to blues, it's difficult to cover them all in the one article. I'm not sure if I have made deciding on cheese this party season any easier and I haven’t even started on the Italian or Spanish blues yet. All I want to do now is grab a loaf of sourdough and savour them all over again... bleu appetit.
To view the full range of La Fromagerie cheeses and Maison Vauron French wines, see their website here.