Okay, first disclaimer: I was raised in a family that didn’t “do” cheese. We had American and occasionally cheddar, and Kraft romano-flavored cheese powder when we had spaghetti, but we didn’t really branch out from there. I had to acquire a taste for uber-sharp cheddar and peccorino romano after I reached adulthood.
So I really don’t know what bleu cheese is supposed to taste like. I’ve had it twice (the cheese itself…I don’t do bleu cheese dressing because I don’t do cream dressings), once on a burger at a little hole-in-the-wall in DC, which was wonderful, and once yesterday on a burger at Ruby Tuesdays, which was awful.
I couldn’t really tell you exactly what the bleu cheese on the former tasted like, per se. All I know was it blended wonderfully with the burger and I thought I’d found something new that I liked. So I ordered the Black & Bleu Burger when we went to RT for lunch yesterday. One bite told me it was apparently a different kind of bleu cheese from what I’d had before. I didn’t taste tangy, like I’d read it was supposed to taste like. I just tasted the musty taste of bread mold. Horrible!
So, Connoisseurs de Fromages, did I just get bad cheese yesterday, or is that musty “left the bread too long” taste what it’s supposed to taste like?
That’s definitely part of the complex flavor of the blue cheeses. But there’s cheese and there’s cheese, like anything else. Try some slivers of other blue cheeses–Gorgonzola is favorite; more complex and more subtle, but still in the same general vicinity. Find a good cheese shop, if you’re near a big city, and buy a quarter pound of several different kinds; some shops will give you samples.
First of all, what you had on those burgers was most likely “bleu cheese dressing”.
That’s bleu cheese mixed with other stuff (I don’t know. . .garlic, worcestorshire sauce, mayonnaise maybe).
Bleu cheese is a crumbly cheese with blue veins running through it. It’s not one of the most pungent cheeses, but it’s also not the easiest cheese to like right off the bat. If I understand my cheeses, it’s flavor comes from mold and that’s what the bleu is.
So, it’s possible you had cheese gone bad, but it’s also possible that it was really ripe bleu cheese and you’re just not accustomed to that strong a flavor.
Stanky cheese takes a little work before one can appreciate it. Some cheeses can smell really really bad with a hint of ammonia, and sometimes like feet or ass. It’s kind of hard to describe where the pleasure comes from in eating these cheeses, but it is there.
I am a big fan of the bleu cheese family – I think bleu cheese tastes tangy and sharp, and it also has a bit of a sour moldy taste, which makes sense because it is mold. I like the sour moldy taste.
Of course, it’s always possible that you had some bad cheese. A few other things to keep in mind:
– different brands and varieties have a range of tastes, so it’s possible you liked the specific cheese on the first burger and didn’t care for the type of bleu used on the second burger
– a little goes a long way, so maybe there was simply too much of it on the second burger for your taste, especially if the restaurant uses a more potent brand of bleu cheese
– you know how the cheese is marbled, with the bleu veins going throughout the cheese? I have noticed that if I happen to bite into a large cluster of the vein, the mold flavor is so strong that it kind of sets that taste for the rest of the dish. Good bleu cheese is pretty uniform when it comes to the veins, but even then it can pack a wallop if, through slicing or spreading, you end up with a big mouthful of bleu and not so much cheese.
Hmm. I doubt it. I’ve had bleu cheese burgers at many different places, in many different states, but I have NEVER had one with bleu cheese dressing on it; always with crumbled bleu cheese. It’s possible, of course, but I think “most likely” is pushing it.
I’ve been on a bleu cheese kick recently, because I’ve been eating a lot of salads – and just a teaspoonful of bleu cheese can really zing up lettuce and cucumbers. My guess is that they just put too much cheese on the second burger; a little goes a long way, even if you’re sure you like the taste. I had a steak topped with bleu cheese at a restaurant recently and I ended up scraping off most of the cheese, because they really overdid it. I’d try again, scrape off most of the cheese, and then add a little back if you’ve gone too far. (BTW, Trunk, when we have this famous meeting of the minds we’re going to do at some point – feel free to invite me over for dinner and make those burgers – they sound seriously yum!)
Yeah, it might have been a perfectly fine if full-flavored bleu cheese, and it just takes a little getting used to. When I first tasted real bleu cheese, I could only eat a tiny crumb or two because of the intensity of the flavor; now I put chunks of real Societie Roquefort on crusty bread and eat it with some slices of ripe pear on the side. Heavenly!
But I’d still recommend trying it on a salad, too. Crumbled Bleu Cheese on some mixed greens (add toasted walnuts and it’s even better) is a great way to introduce yourself to this wonderful cheese. Yum!!
BTW, jayjay, I can sympathize. We only had velveta at home, and when we’d visit my grandmother, we’d turn up our noses at that funny cheese with the holes in it she put on sandwiches. But stick it out, and you’ll be rewarded. You aren’t condemned to bland cheese limbo just because of a deprived childhood-- I’m living proof of that!
It’s supposed to taste like pure tangy blue cheese yumminess…
I recommend finding a cheese shop or cheese counter where you can try the cheeses before buying, and try a few blue cheeses there. Any market that sells cheese by weight (as opposed to pre-wrapped packages) will probably do this- a cheese shop or upscale food market is where you’re most likely to find a full-service cheese counter.
Maybe a transatlantic difference…but what the hell is ‘bleu’ cheese? It’s ‘blue’, isn’t it? After all, I’m not the first to mention Stilton, which hardly deserves the indignity of a French adjective. Also, look for other blue English cheeses, especially those which have no pretentions, because these are often those with the simplest of traditions (Buxton Blue is a favourite)
I imagine your first mistake was going to Ruby Tuesdays.
There is a local place we love to go to that has a spicy blue cheese burger. It’s a standard peppery hamburger with tabasco and blue cheese broiled together on top. Never had a better blue cheese burger… even the ones we make at home.
The ‘zing’ in blue cheese can be rather similar to the one you get from peccorino (first time I ate that stuff though the intensity of it hurt my mouth. It is completely normal for blue cheese to be smelly; anything from just strongly cheesy, through stinky-feet-odour, all the way up to the rich smell of warm garbage cans (‘outdoor cheese’, we call those kinds). The smellier it is, the tastier it will be, as long as you can get it past your nose.