This blue cheese platter contains three cheeses that differ in both country of origin and intensity. An all blue cheese platter may seem rather intense, and it most certainly isn’t for everyone – particularly since people tend to have rather strong feelings regarding blue cheese – but it ended up being a great way to get to know each of the cheeses and assess how they compared to blues from other regions.
The tasting began with the Cashel Blue, Ireland’s first farmhouse blue cheese. This is an excellent blue cheese for people who are either new to blues or don’t care for very strong ones. The flavor is mild and the mouth feel is buttery and unctuous.
The second cheese of the tasting was the Cambozola Grand Noir, a German blue cheese that has a consistency similar to brie.It’s aged in a black wax coating which creates a creamy, smooth interior. Though slightly stronger than the Cashel Blue, it is still very approachable for the blue cheese wary. Its flavor is tangy with a bit of spice.
The third cheese in the tasting was the Roquefort Papillon Noir. This was the strongest cheese, with intense blue developed throughout. The paste has many cavities which helps disperse the flavor of the blue, but the texture remains smooth and not crumbly.
Blue Cheese Pairings
Blue cheeses are typically paired with sweet wines, like a port or Sauternes. Everybody loves a sweet-salty combo, and that’s what you’re getting with sweet wines and blue cheese. This works especially well if the cheese plate comes after your meal, as is typically done in France. But I’m an American living in Canada, so for me, a cheese plate comes before the meal and sweet wines tend to be too heavy to kick things off. If you want to stick with wine, go for a Gewurztraminer or an off-dry Riesling. It’s winter here and I wasn’t really feeling the sweeter wines, so I decided to explore other pairing options.
Beer is often paired with cheese and Porter was universally recommended as pairing well with each of these cheeses. It was a great selection as the cheese highlighted the creaminess of the porter and the slight effervescence from the beer helped to cut the richness of the cheese. In my research, I found that whisky can also be paired with cheese. Fiona Beckett of Matching Food and Wine suggested pairing Lagavulin 16 with Roquefort. It really was exquisite. Sweet, smoky, salty…the whisky and the cheese brought out the shining and complex characteristics of each.
Since blue cheese is salty, it pairs phenomenally with sweet foods like fruits, honey, and walnuts or pecans. You can keep things simple with a few cut up pears or apples, or you can do as I did, and mix fresh fruit with dried fruit. For this platter, I like how the pears put some green on the board and the dried apricots and cherries added some color bursts as well. Honey and fig preserves pair beautifully with blue cheese too. I recommend using crusty bread as your vehicle for eating the cheese because it’s fairly neutral in taste and won’t overpower the cheese or your other accompaniments on the board.