A BLUE, BLUE CHRISTMAS
There is something gloriously festive about the brightly coloured valleys and Thalweg-like veins that course through a piece of authentic blue cheese. Known as the King of Cheeses, with its intense and regal flavour, creamy to crumbly texture, and versatile adaptation to both savory and sweet, blue cheeses are the perfect accompaniment to a holiday meal and truly an invitation to savour a world of lush and noble tastes. Made from either cow’s or goat milk and then cultured with the Penicillium mould, which as it grows, imparts the cheese’s stunning greenish blue marbled appearance, classic blues have been enjoyed with epicurean delight since the beginning of the 1st Century CE and continue to charm modern cheese aficionados either paired rustically with a shard of crunchy freshly baked baguette and a swirl of luscious red wine or as the principle ingredient in more complex culinary creations. We asked Tony Princiotta, expert cheese buyer at the Beverly Hills Cheese Store to help us prepare for the season by selecting three of his favourite blues along with pairing advice and menu suggestions hand selected to ensure a sophisticated twist to holiday entertaining…
Made from sheep’s milk from the South of France and according to Tony, Papillon is one of the best Roqueforts, with a texture that is a little creamy, not too crumbly. This Roquefort is not shy and has long lingering flavors which allow it to be eaten straight up, served on bread or cracker to appreciate its intense and rich aromas and tastes.
Try stuffing dates for an interesting sweet and salty combination
Or grill some peaches and serve it as desert:
Cut the fruit in half, take out the pit.
Leave the skin on, put a little bit of butter on each side then put in a cast iron pan or open grill
Peaches caramelize nicely
Add a dollop of the blue cheese where the pit was and serve.
Have some fun trying out several white, sweet wines from south of France:
Go traditional with Sauternes, a sweet wine from France made with Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle grapes.
For a fruiter, more robust pairing, try a Barsac from the Bordeaux region
Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, from the Rhone valley, is a fortified wine that goes great with Papillon Roquefort.
Made in Leicestershire, England and considered the King of Cheeses, Stilton is a holiday favourite because of its creamy, rich and crumbly texture. Originally made to feed the coach travelers on the Great North Road between London and Scotland, Stilton has it’s own Protected Designation of Origin (PDO). Orignating from the Midlands in Leicetershire England, only 6 dairies are licensed to make Stilton. Although available all year round, but the best Stilton is made from milk when the cows are out in the fields, eating real grass in the spring. From October through the winter and beginning of spring we are in “Stilton Season” meaning the cheeses we have in store were made from milk “when the cows were happy eating real grass.” You can always tell when a Stilton is made from grass fed cows as the cheese will have a deep, rich ivory tone rather than a brighter white finish.
MENU SUGGESTIONA traditional paring would to simply eat with Carrs Water Crackers or Jacob’s Creme Crackers. For something a bit less traditional, make a hearty soup or a steak sauce.
Eat Stilton with a nice fortified red wine like Port. Fortified means a distilled beverage, like brandy, has been added to the wine. Port wines have a slightly higher alcohol percentage and can be sweet, semi- dry, dry and white.
KICKAPOO VALLEY BLUE CHEESE
American and artisanal cheeses have been trending, in fact, October was American Cheese Month and Norbert Wabnig, the proprietor of The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, founded his American Artisanal Treasure Awards eight years ago to honor and foster small producers of cheese and gourmet food stuffs. Made in the Kickapoo Valley Blue Cheese tastes like a good, old fashioned blue cheese. It’s creamy, a bit crumbly, yet it has a nice and silky feel on the palate.
MENU SUGGESTIONKickapoo is great for a meatloaf sandwich or a juicy hamburger, both are popular comfort foods. Just add crispy lettuce, an heirloom tomato and any crispy bread.
Sticking with the American theme, Kickapoo wanders into the Zinfandel territory, and the best is from the Dry Creek Valley in California.
Since 1967, The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills has provided the rarest handmade farm fresh cheese and a finely curated selection of olive oils, foie gras, truffles, meats, breads, sweets, and boutique wines. The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills is the purveyor of choice for noteworthy restaurants such as Spago, Valentino’s, Sona, Melisse, The Bellagio and the Wynn Resort, and numerous celebrities including Ringo Starr, James Spader, Danny DeVito, Whoopi Goldberg, Nicholas Cage and Sandra Bullock. A frequent guest expert, store owner Norbert Wabnig has appeared on BRAVO TV Top Chef Masters with Curtis Stone, History’s Modern Marvels, Good Food with Evan Kleiman and Martha Stewart Radio.
Contribution made by Tony Princiotta, Photogrpahy by Ana Marriot
CHEESE STORE OF BEVERLY HILLS 419 North Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills 90210 +310.278.2855 www.cheesestorebh.com