This cheese is stinkin' good.
What a great honor to be chosen as a taster for “Birth of a Cheese”! My name is Kris Blondin, and I own a little restaurant/deli called STINK Cheese-Meat in Tacoma, WA. Stinky cheese, stinky wine, stinky beer and stinky French cider are some of my most favorite things in the world to consume. I also have had the pleasure of writing about these tasty treats for a local publication. Needless to say, I was very honored to be chosen as a taster.
I was very excited to receive my “mystery cheese”, and eagerly opened the box. At first look, I noticed a slightly yellowish rind, which gradually blended into off white towards the center. Blue and gray veins ran throughout the wedge. Not too much blue - just enough to give it nice character both visually and in taste. As I held it to my nose, I detected a slightly sweet but briny odor – very pleasant, not too powerful. The rind had more of an intense smell with just a hint of ammonia, but it wasn’t distracting.
My first taste netted a somewhat gritty texture. Honestly, I would have preferred it to be a bit smoother. The creaminess was present, but there was something a little unrefined about the texture. I realize that the blue vein does add some grittiness, but the non-blue portion had a bit also.
The center portion of the cheese center was very mild blue towards the front of the tongue, but then intensified significantly towards the back. The flavor was earthy, slightly salty, with just a touch of sweetness. It then intensified as it moved towards the rind, and became even sweeter. The rind was actually pretty pleasant considering the minor amount of ammonia I had detected earlier. A slight bitterness from the rind lingered on the tongue. There’s a very rustic/ old world sensibility about this cheese that I can really appreciate. Thinking of Cabrales from Spain…
Because I love to pair cheese with beverages, I had a lot of fun with this cheese. The combination of salty and sweet is always a big winner, so a port, Madeira or some sort of dessert wine is a perfect pairing. If you want to push yourself a little, try a fruity lambic or even Belgian dubbel.
As far making something with the cheese, I would like it with fresh figs, drizzled with a balsamic reduction and then serve with a great baguette. Or try stuffing a date with the blue and then rolled in caramelized nuts. Dried apricots, fresh thyme, and “the cheese” baked on a thin crust would make any meal memorable.
So would like to change anything about this cheese? Perhaps it could be a bit creamier with a touch more sweetness, something along the line of a Bleu Auvergne? Otherwise, it’s a darn tasty hunk-o-cheese.
As I noted before, this experimental blue cheese reminds me a bit of Cabrales, a delicious blue cheese from Spain. Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino discovered Point Reyes, so maybe it could be called “Vizcaino Blue”? Eh?