Issue No. 1

August 28th, 2010

Singing the Blues

Susan Marquis

Blues music, in its way, celebrates that which one would normally wish to avoid: hardship, longing, and loss. Blue cheese likewise celebrates something we would normally seek to avoid: mold. But, nevertheless, how can you argue that there is a better theme to kick off Cheese Enthusiast? We’re talking about an ancient and traditional cheese, a cheese that shows up in the writings of Roman historian Pliny in AD 79, who reported a Roquefort-like, blue-mold cheese available in the Rome of his day. Blue is a distinct style of cheese diversely expressed as a regional specialty in Europe and as a function of milk sources and cheesemaker preferences in the United States. “Bleu” is, of course, the French name for cheeses whose “paste” or body is streaked or dotted with a “blue” mold that ranges in color from blue to green to olive or even grey-green or black. The Italian name for these cheeses is even descriptive – “formaggi erborinati.” “Erborin” is the name for parsley in the Milanese/Lombard dialect, and it highlights the fact that blue cheeses can look as though parsley was mixed into the curds at some point. In France, this thought is carried through to an entire class of cheeses referred to as “persillés,” a variation of the French word for parsley…

Do Try This At Home!

So, you’ve read about the blues: The difference between the cow, sheep, and goat’s milk versions. Old world vs. new world. Aging in caves vs. aging in modern facilities vs. aging in a tunnel. Now it’s time to give it a try. Blues are some of the more complicated cheeses to make. You probably don’t want this as your first cheese but who knows? You could get lucky. As with most cheeses, the most likely problem is that you end up with something other than you intended. But there is a high probability that you’ll get a cheese that is certainly worth eating and something you can be proud of…

Pairings

By Elizabeth and Matt Henry

What wines complement the blue cheeses highlighted in this issue? We offer some suggestions and ideas, but remember that in the end wine choices come down to individual preference…

Tasting is the Test

We can’t try every blue cheese out there but we can taste a number of cheeses that will give you a sense of the breadth of the blues. Cheeses tasted included the three European classics – Gorgonzola, Roquefort, and Stilton, as well as a number of American blue cheeses that included new world and old world styles. Although we purchased our cheeses from three different sources, particular thanks are due to Jill Erber, the proprietor of Cheesetique in Alexandria, Virginia. Jill guided Cheese Enthusiast through a selection of ten different blue cheeses. Jill was also one of our four tasters for this article. Others included Elaine Simmons, John Ausink, Chris Thompson and Susan Marquis…

The Chatham Cheese Company
Chatham, Mass.

Chatham is a village on the “elbow” of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where the Atlantic coast turns north toward Maine after a long eastern run from New York City through Connecticut and Rhode Island. Chatham has been around since colonial days, first as a small farming village a bit inland, where there are many freshwater ponds, and then eventually transformed into a fishing village down by the sea. In the 1800’s it became a home for whaling and merchant captains, many of whose elegant clapboard houses remain in the center of town. In the 20th Century Chatham became a vacation destination for the banking and legal royalty of Boston, many of whom built mansions on the Atlantic and Nantucket Sound shore roads…

Cheesemaker Check-In

Who: Jamie Forrest,

Where: My apartment in Brooklyn, NY

Best cheese you make? (Fan favorite): A swiss style cheese (minus the holes), based on the Gruyere recipe in Margaret Morris’ book, The Cheesemaker’s Manual…

DVD Review

The Cheese Nun

2006 PBS

Produced by Paris American Television Company

Pat Thompson, Producer and Director (no relation to reviewer)

60 mins.

Reviewer: Christopher Thompson, CE Senior Editor

We first heard of the Cheese Nun, Sister Noella Marcellino, as a result of a project some of my high school students undertook for their Senior Quest. They had become fascinated by my stories of my wife’s cheese-making adventures (or at least pretended they were as a way of not having to discuss The Sound and the Fury). One of the kids, during a college visit to the University of Connecticut, recalled having heard of the Cheese Nun from a cousin studying microbiology in France, and since (a) Sister Noella famously studied at UConn, and (b) the Abbey of Regina Laudis, where she lives, isn’t far from the University, they stopped by, got an autograph for my wife, and gave us the DVD…

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