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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Savor the blueness of cheese in its many variations

By Courtney Taylor
Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger

Culinary legend maintains that about 2,000 years ago, a young shepherd left his supper of fresh bread and sheep's milk cheese in a grotto while he pursued a beautiful woman. When he returned, his lunch had fused: The bread was covered with fine mold, the curd marbled to a soft blue-green. He was so hungry, he ate it anyway. Voila! Roquefort was born.

Blue cheeses — from top, Stilton, huntsman (a layered torte of blue and milder cheeses) and Roquefort — go nicely with fruit and bread.

Gannett News Service Photo

The soil in the caves of southern France's Mont Combalou, in the commune of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, produces the Penicillium roqueforti mold. White cheeses made from ewes' milk are taken into the caves and pierced with needles to let mold enter through the holes.

• Roquefort: Roquefort is made from raw sheep's milk. The cheese should be soft, rindless and a bit crumbly. The flaky structure of the interior of fully ripened Roquefort is a sign of quality.

• Gorgonzola: Real Italian Gorgonzola, from Lombardy, comes in two varieties: dolce, meaning sweet; and mountain, the sharper and firmer version. Almost spreadable, Gorgonzola dolce's whitish interior is laced with streaks of blue.

• Stilton: The extraordinary flavor of this English blue cheese, produced in Liecestershire, comes from careful aging for a minimum of six months. The taste is full, rich and creamy. Its shocking blue veins radiate outward from a natural, crinkly brown crust, revealing layers and folds of honeyed, cheddar-like flavor.

• Maytag blue: From American cows in Maytag, Iowa, comes a carefully handmade blue cheese called Maytag blue. Its wonderful flavor, moist yet crumbly texture and lemony finish make Maytag one of the world's great cheeses.

• Danish blue: This strong-flavored blue is slightly crumbly but sliceable, and vividly veined.