If you are blue cheese lover and you don’t mind me asking, “Why do you like blue cheese? Have you always liked it? If not when did you start to like it?”
For me, I don’t think I even had blue cheese until I was in high school. It went down in the form you might expect — that would be dipping a spicy chicken wing into a “blue cheese” dressing at a sports bar.
From that point on blue cheese was on my radar. Steaks, salads, on an old leather boot, it didn’t matter. I was sold.
But it was not until I was well into the real world and out of collage that I realized that there was a world of blue cheese out there other than those crumbles in a tub or even Maytag.
Not that those examples are bad, but when cheeses like Roquefort, Colston Basset Stilton and Rogue Creamery Smokey Blue came across my palate they opened my eyes to what blue cheese can be. They do not have to be just sharp, tangy, piquant and acidic. They can also be earthy, mushroomy, funky, buttery, sweet and mild.
One of those eye openers for me recently has been Jersey Blue. If you haven’t tried it, come see me. It’s time. This blue is different. Made in Lichtensteig, Switzerland, by cheese maker Willi Schmid. Besides the flavor, the way it is made is unusual.
Most blue cheeses are pierced to introduce oxygen so that the blue mold will begin to grow and blue the nooks and crannies of the cheese. But Schmid ladles the curds in such a way that oxygen is able to encourage the blue mold to grow without piercing the cheese.
I remember reading one reviewer’s visual description of Jersey blue and the interesting veining the ladling causes. It was the most apt description I have read. The reviewer likened the veins to lightning bolts across the sky.
The boulder-like shape of Jersey Blue is covered in wrinkly blue mold that has a dusting of white mold on the outside. It is almost as stunning as the inside of the cheese.
As for the flavor, Jersey Blue is full of it. The texture is dense, creamy and spreadable. The full fat raw milk brings a rich, buttery, and earthy flavor. But the blue mold still brings a tingly bite to your tongue. This bite serves to make Jersey Blue a very well balanced cheese. It is rich but the bite and tang of the blue keeps it in check.
One of my favorite parings with Jersey Blue is a product called Sonomic Almost Vinegar. This balsamic-like blend is made with Gewurztraminer grapes. The flavor is sweet with just a hint of acidity. Gewurztraminer is a classic pairing with blue cheese so the Sonomic Almost Vinegar follows that same logic.
The sweet and savory combination just works. Drizzle a little on some crusty bread with a nice layer of Jersey Blue spread on it.
If that is not your style, Jersey Blue works great on steaks and salads but you can really appreciate the difference of the cheese when it is eaten as table cheese. So if you are a blue cheese lover go ahead and let Jersey Blue open your eyes.
Lincoln Broadbooks loves cheese. He is one of the first cheesemongers in the United States and Canada to become an American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional. He is the manager and buyer for The Better Cheddar in Prairie Village. You can find him on Twitter @LincolnBbooks and on Instagram @lincycheese.