Blue Cheese From A to Z: 26 Things to Know
Aura. This is Finnish blue cheese made with cow's milk, not artisanal but of excellent quality, and typically served on rye crackers.
Bleu d' Auvergne. This cheese comes from the major town in the Massif Central in southern France, and is one of the world's best known marbled cheeses. It's less sharp than most of the others, with mold that ranges from blue-green to blue-black.
Curd. Marbling, once left to chance, today is controlled by adding select milk spores, generally before the curd forms, or after, blending them together.
Danablu. This is the modern Danish blue, a semi-hard cheese. Copper wires or rods are used to pierce the formed curds to distribute the mold evenly through the cheese.
European Union. In the European Union, many of the more traditional and well-known marbled cheeses are protected by controlled designation of origin.
Fourme d'Ambert. A French PDO originating in the Roman era. Also from the Auvergne region, it is made with raw cow's milk and has a characteristic narrow cylinder shape.
Gorgonzola. The Italian PDO cheese made with whole cow's milk and Penicillium glacum mold. It was created in the city of the same name in the province of Milan, and is one of the oldest marbled cheeses.
Historian. The great Roman historian Pliny (23-79 A.D.) described a marbled cheese from a mountainous region of Mediterranean France that may have been Roquefort.
Inox. The needling tools are generally stainless steel or brass now. In the past, they were worked wood or bone.
Joke. “What do you call a cheese that is sad?” “A blue cheese?”
King Charles VI. King Charles VI of France, also known as The Beloved and The Mad King, was a great lover of the cheese produced in the village of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon. In 1411 he recognized the designation of origin for the cheese, and made the caves in which it was aged a protected place. At the time, the Roquefort forms became an exchange currency.
Liébana. This is the Cantabrian valley in Spain where Picón Bejes Trasvisos is made. It's a blue that was originally sold wrapped in maple leaves, but today gilded aluminum is used.
Mold. The dairy processing technique that causes the blue-green-gray streaks and patches is based on the development of these molds - multi-cellular fungi - in the cheese.
Needling. Maturing cheese is perforated with long needles to provide entry to the air that "feeds" the molds, helping them proliferate and form the bluish veins.
Odor. Sometimes the characteristic odor of marbled cheese is a true stink. It's caused by the cultivated molds or bacteria that develop in them. In particular, the bacteria Brevibacterium linens, which is often generally identified as "the smell of stinky feet", or of other parts of the body.
Penicillium. It's the type of fungus that develops in marbled cheeses, in particular, P. roqueforti and P. glaucum, present in nature but now sold commercially with lyophilized cultures. The name sounds like 'penicillin' because it's actually related to the mold that gave rise to antibiotics.
Queso de Cabrales. This is a blue cheese typical of the Asturias, in Spain. Protected since 1981 and made only in rural settings, it has nearly no rind and is incredibly creamy. The sharp flavor and strong odor are the result of adding sheep's and goat's milk to the cow's milk.
Roquefort. The marbled cheese made with sheep's cheese originating from the south of France. Legend has it that it was discovered when a young shepherd, bewitched by the sight of a beautiful girl, abandoned his meal of bread and sheep's curd in the cave. Returning some time later, the mold (Penicillium roqueforti) had transformed it into Roquefort...
Stilton. The most famous version of this English cheese is the "blue". It is classically accompanied by celery, pears and Port wine, or Barleywine, a highly fermented British beer of Greek origin. Temperature. Marbled cheeses are normally aged in temperature-controlled environments, like caves.
UK. If Stilton is the best known, other blue British cheeses are also worthy of mention. Stichelton, dense and creamy, made with unpasteurized cow's milk; Beenleight Blue, unpasteurized sheep's milk, available only in autumn and winter; and Dorset Blue Vinny, cow's milk and vegetarian rennet, from a 300-year-old recipe.
Valdéon. This marbled cheese is made in the heart of the Picos de Europa, the mountain chain running along the northern coast of Spain. Made with cow's and/or goat's milk, the cheese is yellowish and its flavor isn't especially strong. It is wrapped in its characteristic aluminum foil, which helps preserve it and maintain its humidity, as is the case for most marbled cheeses.
Wine. Very smooth, robust red wines with an appreciable alcohol content, or sweet and liqueur-like raisin wines. Or even a botrytised wine. All good recommends for pairing with complex blue cheeses. For example: Sauternes with Roquefort, and Passito di Pantelleria or Marsala Superiore with Gorgonzola. Clearly, these are intended when the cheese is served alone at the end of the meal.
Xxx. A few adventurous chocolate makers and chefs have recently put forward a wild, and apparently delicious, combination: bitter chocolate and marbled cheese. A perfect pairing for a bold snack.
Yellow-reddish. This is the color that artificial marbling produces in the cheese rind, which normally also becomes rough and irregular
Zola. This is the popular nickname for Gorgonzola. With 4 million units produced every year, it's one of the world's best loved blue cheeses.