The Blue Cheese Board
A Blue Cheese Board is a beautiful and delicious way to explore this style of cheese. Blue cheese has been in existence for centuries. Many of the world’s most famous cheeses fall into this category. Tasting them side by side is a great way to really understand the differences and nuances of flavor. It is a fun experience for the cheese lover.
VEGETARIAN ✓ LOW CARB ✓ KETO ✓ GLUTEN-FREE ✓
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I have heard, that people either love or hate blue cheese. Blue cheese can be strong, pungent, tangy, and rich, which can be a lot for some people. But it can also be creamy, sweet, and luscious. Being a lover of it, I am biased. But with such a breadth of styles within the category, it’s possible that if you don’t think you like it, that you just haven’t found the right blue for you. Read on the learn more about the styles.
The Types Of Blue Cheese
Blue cheese has been in existence for centuries. Some of the most renowned old-world cheeses fall into this category, with origins in France, Italy, England, Ireland, Germany, Spain, and Denmark. Blue cheese is made from cow’s milk, goat’s milk, or sheep’s milk, or a combination thereof. Prior to the milk being soured, mold spores are added. Later in the cheesemaking process, this mold reacts to oxygen, creating the signature blue-green veins, and rich, spicy, pungent flavors in the cheese.
It is the milk that is used, and the region that the cheese is made in, that dictate the characteristics of the blue cheese. For a deep dive into this style read The Cheese Guide: All About Blue Cheese
Regional Styles Of Blue Cheese
This iconic French blue cheese originates from the caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, from which its name is derived. It is made from sheep’s milk, and known for its intense sharpness and tangy notes. This comes from the flavor of the sheep’s milk, as well as the unique mold native to this region. Roquefort is delightfully pungent, it lingers on the palate.
Gorgonzola is the Italian version of blue cheese, hailing from the northern regions of Piedmont and Lombardy. Made from cow’s milk, there are two types of Gorgonzola with varying intensities of flavor, mostly due to the length of time the cheese is aged. Gorgonzola Dolce, also called Sweet Gorgonzola, is a milder, sweeter, and creamy counterpart to its sharper sibling, Gorgonzola Piccante, which has a crumbly texture and a spicier, more pungent taste.
Hailing from England, Stilton is a cow’s milk blue cheese known for its robust and earthy taste. Its crumbly texture and bold flavors make it a classic choice on cheese boards. Expect spicy notes that evolve into a rich and savory experience.
This milder blue cheese hails from Denmark, offering a balanced flavor profile that appeals to a wide audience. Danish Blue is made from cow’s milk and strikes a harmonious balance between creaminess and tanginess.
Hailing from the rugged Asturias region of Spain, Cabrales is a blue cheese with a rustic charm and centuries-old tradition. Cabrales offers an intense and tangy flavor, with a crumbly texture that encapsulates the essence of the Spanish mountains. It can be made purely from cow’s milk, or sometimes mixed with goat or sheep’s milk. These mixed milk versions have a more intense, complex flavor.
Crafted in the rolling hills of County Tipperary, Ireland, Cashel Blue is a testament to the Emerald Isle’s cheese-making prowess. This semi-soft blue cheese made from cow’s milk, delivers a creamy and mild taste with delightful hints of spice.
Cambozola marries the creaminess of Camembert with the boldness of Gorgonzola. Originating in the Allgäu region of Germany, this delicious and approachable blue cheese brings together the best of both worlds. The milder taste of Camembert seamlessly intertwines with the pungency of Gorgonzola, creating a flavor profile that is both luscious and sophisticated.
Noteworthy Blue Cheeses To Try
- Bayley Hazen, Jasper Hill Farm, Vermont : One of my go-to cheeses, Bayley Hazen has a fudge-like texture, toasted-nut sweetness, and anise spice character.
- Cambozola, Germany : One of the more approachable styles of blue cheese, this soft ripened combination of camembert and gorgonzola is creamy and luscious with a hint of pungent depth.
- Point Reyes Blue, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese, California : From one of my favorite places, this cheese is a classic blue that is bold, with a peppery finish.
- Blue Castello, Denmark : This Danish Blue combines a double cream brie with a traditional blue cheese creating a cheese that is smooth, decadent, with a hint of sharp, peppery flavor.
- Rogue River Blue, Rogue Creamery, Oregon : A seasonal blue, named champion of the 2019/2020 World Cheese Awards. Released on the Autumn Equinox each year, this cheese is wrapped in Syrah grape leaves and steeped in pear spirits.
- Maytag Blue, Maytag Dairy Farms, Iowa : This award-winning blue was first produced in 1941 in an attempt to recreate France’s Roquefort. The result is a creamy yet crumbly cheese with green veins which yield pungent and lemony notes.
What To Pair With Blue Cheese
Blue cheeses can have big, bold flavors. So pair them with other ingredients that enhance and build upon the flavor, and bring out the best of the cheese. Here are some suggestions:
Fruits – Fresh or dried fruits like figs, pears, and apples add a touch of sweetness and acidity, balancing the richness of the cheese. They are also a great alternative to crackers for people who may not be able to eat them (gluten-free or keto).
Honey & Jams – The sweetness of honey and fruit jams pair beautifully with the rich, creamy intensity of blue cheese. One of my favorite jams for blue cheese is this Tart Cherry Preserves With Cardamom & Port. Want to pick your own? Try the Cheese & Jam Pairing Sampler.
Nuts – The crunch of nuts and their toasty flavor pair beautifully with blue. Try walnuts, pecans, or Marcona almonds. Candied or smoked nuts are a delicious choice.
Breads & Crackers – A selection of crusty bread or hearty crackers provides a neutral base, allowing the cheese to shine. Try a whole grain or nut based crackers that stand up to blue cheese’s richness and depth.
Dark Chocolate – Blue cheese’s strong and pungent notes compliment the robust undertones of a strong dark chocolate.
Endive/Sliced Vegetables – I often add things like endive, radicchio, thinly sliced beets or radish to a cheese board for people who may not be able to eat the crackers (gluten-free or keto). The endive is particularly good with blue cheese.
How To Arrange A Cheese Board
Creating a beautiful cheese board starts with choosing the perfect board as the backdrop. My favorite boards are the Spalted Maple Boards from my shop (pictured above). They are incredibly beautiful, natural, and unusual – made from a rare type of maple, so special that finding it is likened to finding truffles in the forest.
When arranging a cheese board I usually always start by placing the cheeses first. (This is unless I am creating an elaborate floral aspect to the board, or if laying greenery as a base.) The cheeses are the focus, and usually form the building blocks of the board. Place the cheeses around the board so that they are not touching – for visual appeal, and also to keep their flavors and accompaniments separate. For a natural, bountiful feel, have the cheese at offset angles.
Next, add the other structural pieces – the dishes of jams and honey. The wedges and circles offset each other and create the structure for the board.
Fill in the spaces with groups of the accompanying fruits, vegetables, crackers, and nuts. Keep these in clusters in pairings of at least three. Things look best in odd numbers. You want to balance the board with multiple placements of things. This helps visually, but also in making eating easier in large groups.
Lastly, accent the board with fresh herbs and flowers to bring that garden to table feel. For this board, I chose Rosemary and Sea Holly for the wintry, blue feel, Rosemary lasts, as does Sea Holly (and is easily accessible at your local market or grocery store). It’s meaning imparts the same. Rosemary means remembrance and clarity. Sea Holly means independence and austerity – something that speaks to boldness of blue cheese.
Blue cheese should be wrapped in wax paper, which protects it from moisture in the refrigerator. Plastic wrap should not be used, as it can trap moisture inside and promote the growth of mold.
Blue cheese can last 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator, if it is stored properly.
Yes! Blue cheese can be stored in the freezer in a sealable bag or freezer-safe container. Make sure that you freeze the cheese while it is still fresh.
Do you love blue cheese? If you make a Blue Cheese Board be sure to leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you. And if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram, I’d love to see!
Get The Recipe:
The Blue Cheese Board
- 1 Wedge Cambozola Cheese
- 1 Wedge Domestic Blue Cheese, Like Bayley Hazen, Point Reyes Blue, Maytag Blue
- 1 Wedge Other Blue Cheeses: Roquefort, Gorgonzola Dolce, Stilton
- Fresh Fruit: Apples, Pears, Grapes, Figs, Blackberries
- Nuts: Walnuts, Pecans, Marcona Almonds
- Castelvetrano Olives
- Honey & Honey Comb
- Fruit Jam, Like "Tart Cherry With Cardamom & Port"
- Fresh herbs or flowers for garnish: Here I chose rosemary and Sea Holly for the wintery feel and blue tones.
Prep The Ingredients
- First, gather your ingredients.
- Take the cheeses out of the fridge 30-60 minutes before serving. This will allow the cheese to warm, and the flavors to open up for the best taste experience.
- Next, wash and prep any fruits and vegetables.
- Place jams, honey, and honeycomb in small dishes for serving.
Arrange The Cheese Board
- Start by placing the cheeses on the board. Leave enough room between each so that they are not touching each other, especially as this board is for tasting the differences between the styles of cheese. Because the cheese is the main focus, I keep the accompaniments simpler and smaller. Simple tastes to enhance or offset the cheese.
- Next, place the dishes of jams and honey amongst the cheese. These components form the anchors of the board.
- Fill the board with the rest of the accompaniments. Keep them in groups, tucked around the cheese. I like to balance the board with similar ingredients on opposite sides. This is pleasing visually, but also is great when serving a crowd, as it keeps things close at hand for everyone.
- Lastly, tuck garnishes of herbs and flowers around to give that garden to table feel of freshness and beauty.