You could tell me blue cheese is created by a mold until you’re, well, blue in the face. I still wouldn’t care. I’m a sucker for blue cheese in all forms. Legend has it that the first Roquefort was discovered by accident, by a French shepherd in the early Middle Ages whose wandering eye for the ladies caused him to leave his bread-and-cheese lunch in a cave full of Roquefort mold. When he returned days later, he found his cheese veined in blue and was adventurous — and hungry — enough to give it a try.
Et, voila, blue cheese was born.
The Europeans dominated the blues for years, and the names Roquefort, Gorgonzola and Stilton are protected by region, much like Champagne. In 1941, enterprising Iowan Fred Maytag II began manufacturing an American blue, after microbiologists at Iowa State discovered a way to make it.
Now, the Giacomini family and their Pt. Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company have created their own Original Blue, said to be the only true blue cheese made in California. Luckily, for locals and others, it’s quite good. It’s got the traditional blue-cheese tang, yet is also mild, with a hint of milky sweetness. It’s also wonderfully creamy, so that it can be spread on a cracker, in addition to being crumbled into a salad, such as warm beets with walnuts and a balsamic vinaigrette. And, of course, it looks good, with its great blue veins of you-know-what running through it.
Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman