Roquefort: Cheese of the Angels
As a general rule, something moldy and smelly should not be put in one’s mouth. We all know this. It’s wired into our little lizard brains at the base of our spinal column. Moldy, stinky food brings digestive problems that were once blamed only on a plague from god himself.
But at some point someone decided to try rotten dairy products, and discovered it can be quite yummy and only cause a bit of wind that helped to keep the body lice under control. Those wacky, backwards Europeans. I mean, in the middle east they were inventing religious squabbling and perfecting the art of crucification, and the French were eating moldy cheese and reciting poetry to their favorite sheep.
You are free to click through to read more on the history of Roquefort cheese and how the original mold was grown and introduced to the sheep milk curds. I’m not going to turn you off the cheese until after you’ve tried it and fallen helplessly in love with it.
Roquefort is a blue cheese, and it is one of France’s first regionally protected foods (Appellation d’origine contrôlée) that they got on the list because it’s so freaking good. This means it can only be made in the Roquefort region, and the ingredients are very specific. In fact, even the breed of sheep that can produce the milk for it are limited to three (although they used to add some cow or goat milk, they’re not even allowed to do that anymore). The reason I bring this up is to reassure you that although this moldy, stinky cheese looks a bit suspect, you’ve nothing to be afraid of.
We were taken aback the other day to be at Uppercrust and find an almost bare cheese cabinet. The Roquefort called out for us though, and we liberated her (along with a cheddar and a specialty cheese). This was a smallish wedge of Société, and not inexpensive. But I promise you this is worth every penny.
I served this and the cheddar, each gently sliced into chunky slabs, along with a rosemary batard, a sliced granny smith apple, and some kalamata olives. We opened up a bottle of red wine (Our Daily Red, to be exact). This was easily one of the best meals I’ve had in six months. I am not exaggerating.
The Roquefort is a creamy blue cheese. Although it has a distinct salty, nutty flavor, it has a lovely sweet undercurrent and a clean finish. Keep in mind, a little goes a long way. Tear a piece of bread and top it with a small chunk of Roquefort and the flesh of a kalamata olive. Nothing fancy. When you wake up from your drunken food stupor and find the plates are clean and the wine is gone, you’ll thank me for suggesting one of the most perfect things you’ve ever put in your mouth.
If you’re still afraid of this cheese, it has one of the highest levels of glutamates in almost any food. This is an amino acid important for learning and memory. Be smart. Eat your stinky, delicious cheese!