Of course this cheese has a lovely story behind it. Rumour has it that a shepherd was tending his sheep over 2000 years ago, and wanted a shady and cool spot for his lunch so he put it in the caves. He then had to attend to his flock as there were some wolf shenanigans afoot. In the process of rescuing his sheep (and one can assume getting a new wolf pelt for the cold nights) he forgot about his lunch. Until three months later. The fruit and bread he'd left in the cave were moldy and inedible. But the cheese. It had these veins of blue and a nutty aroma. Being an adventurous man, he thought he would try it and lo and behold a new cheese was born.
While that story might be a bit fanciful, many do consider this to be the oldest cheese on record. This cheese can be dated back to the first century B.C.. Roquefort was the first cheese to get an A.O.C. designation back in 1925. The regulations for this cheese are very specific.
- It must be made of sheep's milk
- It cannot be pasteurized or homogenized
- It cannot be heat-treated
- It must be ripened in the caves of Mount Combalou for a minimum of 3 months
The cheese has a creamy ivory paste with veins that start out greenish and change into a bluish grey as it matures. The flavors are nuttiness, milky, salty, and a bit peppery. I have read that some people consider this to be a mild cheese. I don't think so. This is a huge cheese. Full complex flavors, and one of the biggest blues I know.
Many blue cheeses are wrapped in foil to help contain the moisture level of the cheese. Once you get it home, you should wrap it in wax paper and then in cling film.
If it doesn't have this "stamp of approval" it's not Roquefort, but instead a cheap bastard impersonator.
I've got to admit it, this cheese is gorgeous
I have a bit of a confession to make. Actually, two. First confession is, I am allergic to blue cheese. If I eat too much of it I start to get hives on my arms, and get a bit itchy. That has never stopped me from trying blue cheeses, and in fact blues are some of my favorite cheeses around. The second confession is this, I don't like Roquefort. I am not proud of this. I know that it's a wonderful cheese. I know about it's got a lovely romantic history. Being a lover of drama and cheese I should love this guy. I just can't. I apologize to all the sheep who give of their milk and all the shepherds who make what truly is one of the great cheeses of the world. I'm so sorry.