Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Bleu de Basque

"An artisan sheep’s milk blue cheese made in the Pyrenées mountains, ... Bleu des Basques has a wonderful combination of earthy spiciness and hints of apricot." -Artisanal Cheese

Bleu de Basques is another brebis cheese from the southwest of France. Believing that I had discovered something lovely and delicious in all Basque brebis cheeses, I put my faith into buying a 250 gram slice of blue brebis at the local supermarket.

I have been a fan of blue cheese and its spicy flavor since I lived in Lyon a couple years ago, but sometimes the smell still gets to me. Surprisingly, many cheeses can have a horrible stench, but still have a delicate taste. (Muenster is one of those.)

To put it nicely, this blue brebis smells like rotten fish. Unfortunately, I am having trouble getting the smell out of my head when I taste the cheese. In large quantities, its taste reminds me too much of its smell; it is musty and salty, with a bit of creaminess. As it has been aging, we have been cutting it into smaller pieces and eating it with bread or crackers. Thankfully, this routine before dinner has allowed me to taste and appreciate the spicy, "blue" flavor, while not being overwhelmed by the odor. Although I have enjoyed trying this variety of blue cheese, I don't see myself buying it again. However, that doesn't mean I'm going to let it go to waste...

I don't know if it's possible to buy Bleu de Basque in the US, but it would make a wonderful appetizer at a dinner party. Cut into small pieces beforehand and placed on small, salty crackers, it would certainly please the fans of blue cheese.

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