The King Of Cheeses Roquefort

By ckoetke, Feb 17, 2010 | |
  1. Perhaps the oldest known cheese in the world, scholars speculate that Roquefort was known even to the ancient Romans. This cheese, made in the desolate southern French town of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, was the first cheese in France to be legally protected from fraudulent look-alikes. While Roquefort is certainly not to everyone's liking (which means there is more of it for those of us who adore it), it is undisputedly one of the world's most famous and unique cheeses. Roquefort packs a punch. It does not strive for delicateness of flavor but instead delivers a powerful rush of flavor and salt wrapped in a shroud of deep complexity. But while the flavor is assertive, the texture when at room temperature, is smooth and luscious.

    Roquefort begins with sheep milk which is rare among blue cheeses as the majority of them are made from cow or perhaps goat milk. Once the initial cheese has been made, its mysterious "blueing" transformation begins in the natural caves outside of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon. One of the wonders of the culinary world, the Roquefort caves are ideal (due to a natural ventilation system which keeps the temperature and humidity levels constant) for the aging of the cheese and the development of the necessary mold. The young cheeses are inoculated with the natural mold of the caves, Penicillium roqueforti. The cheese then ages for a minimum of 3 months, although usually longer. As they ripen, the mold develops in the cheese and completely transforms it into what we know of as Roquefort. The aging process also contributes to the creamy texture of the cheese. Roquefort has multiple uses in cuisine from Roquefort walnut terrines to pasta to salads. To really experience this work of art, it is best to sample it alone or perhaps with a bit of bread. As with all cheeses, be sure that the cheese is room temperature, as a cold cheese will conceal many of its flavors. What to drink with Roquefort? One of the most intriguing combinations of wine and cheese awaits you. This pairing between very opposite things comes together to create a whole new synergistic experience. Sauternes, that intensely sweet white wine from Bordeaux, and Roquefort are a perfect match. The sweetness of the wine offsets the saltiness of the cheese. The mold, which in good years grows on the grapes used to make Sauternes, matches beautifully with Roquefort's unique mold. Also, the similarly pungent personalities of the wine and cheese is like a heavy weight boxing match between equal opponents — which ends in a tie. For the best of the best, buy the best Roquefort you can buy and pair it with Chateau d'Yquem, the greatest Sauternes. And then just sit back and let the fireworks begin...

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