Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cheese: Bleu d'Auvergne

Bleu d'Auvergne is blue cheese made in Auvergne, a province in south central France. 
It is given the AOC (Appellation d'Origine Controlee) designation by the French government. It was originally developed in the 1850s by Antoine Roussel, a cheesemaker. He was probably trying to copy Roquefort cheese, but used cow milk instead of sheep milk. He found that blue mold on his curd tasted really good and, with testing, found that rye bread mold created the best blue mold veining and that pricking the curd with a needle increased aeration for the veining. Today bleu d'Auvergne is made with raw milk of Salers and Aubrac cows and is prepared with mechanical needles and aged for about four weeks in cool, wet cellars, although I'm finding sources that say it is aged up to two months in cellars, before being wrapped in foil and matured another month or so. 
The length of aging, of course, makes a big difference in how bluey and strong and pungent it gets. 
It has a strong and pungent taste, but generally less than many other blue cheeses because it is not aged as long, has less salt and sometimes uses a different mold, the Penicillium glaucum, as opposed to the Penicillium roqueforti, which is used in Roquefort, Blue Stilton and many other blue cheeses. 
I'm finding one website that describes "with age, the crust becomes sticky and eventually the interior gradually collapses and the taste becomes more intense and spicy." 
One of the wonderful things I am learning about cheese is that the same ingredients, the same cheese, can be quite different depending on the age. Therefore, it can be a never-ending trail of discovery, even within the same type of cheese, as you try it from different manufacturers and with a different aging profile. Bleu d'Auvergne is one of the 1001 Foods You Must Taste Before You Die
1001 states that "the taste is potent and very salty, with hints of sourness alongside subtle grassy, wildflower notes." I got some Bleu d'Auvergne cheese from Trader Joe's and one interesting note is they misspelled it on their label: "Bleu d'Avuvergne Cheese" (with an extra "v"). 
It was wet out of the package, like Blue Stilton and Roquefort, and had a strong blue cheese taste, but not quite as strong as either Blue Stilton or Roquefort, but still very strong. It appears that there is a wider variation in how Bleu d'Auvergne is made than for either Blue Stilton or Roquefort. I'm finding varying aging times and use of different forms of Penicillium (the cheese made with P. glaucum is milder than the cheese made with P. roqueforti), so there is probably less uniformity and less predictability in what you are buying than for those other brands.  Roquefort has no rind and Blue Stilton has a strong, powerful tasting rind. Bleu d'Auvergne has a rind, 
but it is no where as strong or as powerful as the rind in Blue Stilton. 
In terms of preference, so far Roquefort is king of the blues for me, but I would rate the Bleu d'Auvergne I ate as my second preference, ahead of Blue Stilton and Gorgonzola, the other well known blue cheeses.  

No comments:

Post a Comment