Roquefort cheese is the ancestor of all modern types of blue cheese seen today and has been called the “Cheese of Kings”. Since 1925 this cheese has been protected by the designation of origin seal. This cheese is not found in the United States anymore, but if you are on vacation and get to try it, you may wonder, what does Roquefort cheese taste like?
Roquefort cheese is pungent, creamy, and tangy all at once. It has a vast salty and semi-sweet white body of cheese wrapped around small caverns of a sharply tangy blue mold strewn throughout the wheel or slice. This mold ripens the cheese from the inside out and creates a smooth and creamy texture to the cheese with a sharp, metallic-like tang that hits the tongue simultaneously.
Considering Moldy Cheese
Thinking about Roquefort blue cheese and the way it is made does not sound too appealing initially, but the delightful taste of it will have you changing your mind. Cheeses that have mold in them usually use the Penicillium roque forti strain of bacteria that comes from the soil. This special type of mold is found in caves such as the cave system in Roquefort-sur-soulzon in south-eastern France.
Lore says that before the time of the Romans a shepherd was watching his flock and became distracted by a wolf who threatened his flock. Another version says that the shepherd was distracted by a beautiful maiden or shepherdess. Either way before wandering off, the shepherd left his lunch of ewe’s milk curd and rye bread in a moist and cool cave.
It’s not really agreed upon how long the shepherd left his meal, forgotten, but when he did return to it the meal had mold encroaching upon it. He was hungry and gave the cheese a try and decided that he rather enjoyed the flavor of the cheese and the mold together. Thus, the idea for Roquefort cheese was born.
Aging Cheese in the Caves in France
The cave system of Roquefort-sur-soulzon is one of the few places in the world where Penicillium roque forti is present in the soil naturally. This place has a designation of protection seal and has been recognized since 1925. Roquefort cheese is created from raw sheep’s milk and is heavily salted and wrapped in foil during its ripening process.
The cheese is left to age in the caves after having the mold introduced to the center of the cheese wheel. It takes about five months for the process to be deemed complete and the cheese is not allowed to develop a rind during ripening.
From the Inside-Out
Unlike other cheeses that are allowed to develop rinds, Roquefort cheese ripens from the inside out. The mold breaks down proteins found in the cheese resulting in a creamy texture to the cheese. The mold also breaks down the fats in the cheese resulting in different flavor profiles.
When the cheese has been properly tended to and aged then the results should end with a bright white cheese with pockets or veins of granular mold. Sometimes the veins will even look like lightning bolts spreading through the cheese and will continue to grow as the cheese ripens. The white parts of the cheese will be moist and will smell earthy, much like how the cave smells.
The Taste of Roquefort Cheese
The outside of Roquefort cheese does not have a rind like other cheeses develop. Instead, the cheese is moist all the way through, with pockets of mold littering the middle of the wheel or slice. This part of the cheese is salty and semi-sweet, balancing out the definite tang and sharpness of the damp, metallic earthen taste of the mold.
Pairing up With Roquefort Cheese
Roquefort cheese has a distinct smell to it and can even be described as smelly or heady. It is rich in flavor and gives off a distinct bouquet of notes that pair well with certain foods like salads. Roquefort cheese can be used solo for appetizers, spread on crackers, or eaten with sliced fresh or dried fruits.
If eating with appetizers or alone, Roquefort can be paired with sweet white or pink wines like Moscatos or Rosés. This cheese is great on any type of cracker or dried bread although it has limited spreadability. If eating this cheese raw is unsettling or not to your taste there are other things you can try.
Roquefort cheese does have a melting point of about 130 degrees Fahrenheit and this makes it incredibly useful for putting into hot dishes. This cheese is great for tangy macaroni and cheese, nachos with a kick, black and blue burgers, and other cheesy dishes. Roquefort keeps its tanginess but becomes melty and gooey and can be great for adding to artichoke dips.
A Note on Legality
Roquefort’s caves were first given a protected designation of origin in 1925. France gave Roquefort the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) in 1979 and the European Union has had it protected under a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) since 1996. In order to have the Roquefort name, companies must follow stringent policies and ensure that their methods of creating this cheese goes according to standards held by France’s food agencies.
Although there are such strenuous measures involved with the creation of Roquefort cheese it is not likely that you will be able to experience it in America. This is because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States halted all imports of soft and raw-milk cheeses in 2014. This arose because of a spike in food-borne illnesses nationwide due to incorrect cheese production involving bacteria.
It is not known if Roquefort cheese was to blame as the FDA had changed their limits to how much e.coli bacteria could be present in food and this banned all soft and raw-milk cheese imports. Roquefort can be found in Europe and enjoyed on vacations, however. Keep your eyes (and nose) out for this curious-looking and smelling cheese and give it a try sometime!
Known as the “Cheese of Kings”, Roquefort cheese is the ancestor of all modern types of blue cheese. It has been protected by the designation of origin since 1925. The cheese is not available in the United States anymore, but if you are on vacation and get to taste it, you may wonder, what is Roquefort cheese like?
The taste of Roquefort cheese is pungent, creamy, and tangy at the same time. The cheese has a salty and semi-sweet body wrapped around small caverns of a sharp, tangy blue mold. The mold ripens the cheese from the inside out, giving it a smooth and creamy texture with a metallic-like tang that hits the tongue simultaneously.
In contrast to other cheeses, Roquefort does not develop a rind. There are pockets of mold in the center of the cheese, which is moist all the way through. The body has a salty, semisweet flavor that offsets the sharp tang and earthy taste of the mold, balancing out the sharp, damp, metallic flavor.
There is a distinctive aroma to Roquefort cheese, and it can even be described as smelly or heady. The flavor is rich and gives off a distinctive bouquet of notes that pair well with certain foods and salads. You can use Roquefort cheese as an appetizer, spread it on crackers, or serve it with sliced fresh or dried fruit.
It is important to remember that Roquefort is only available in Europe. Despite the fact that the creation of Roquefort cheese involves such strenuous measures, it is unlikely that you will be able to experience it in America. In 2014, the FDA in the US banned imports of soft and raw-milk cheeses.