Blue Cheese for Christmas – More than Blue Stilton?

The Norwegian blue cheese Råblå with Bache Babrielsen Pineau des Charentes

Obviously, Christmas and blue cheese are more or less synonyms. As much as I love Stilton, today I want to strike a blow for some other blue cheeses that will enrich your Christmas table. Some say the reason Stilton is so popular at Christmas is because that’s when the cheese were at its best, made of milk from cows fed on fresh nutritious grass from the second growth. That’s what they say anyway, I doubt there would be enough Stilton for the festive season these days if they were to depend on cheese only made through August or thereabout. I will definitely also have some other cheeses as well, blue as well as soft and semi hard cheeses.

The Three Norwegian Artisan Blue Cheeses

Kraftkar, Råblå and Fønix are three well known domestic artisan blue cheeses in Norway. Kraftkar won the 2016 World Cheese Awards in San Sebastian, which has earned it a certain world wide reputation, but the two others are not well known outside of Norway. A pity really, because they are both very good cheeses. And to taste them you will probably have to make the trip to Norway. Make a note of the names though, one day.. They are all made from cows’ milk, though Råblå gets som goats’ milk added during springtime. Fønix and Råblå are organic and from raw milk, while Kraftkar gets some cream added to enrich the flavour and gain some sweetness. They are all very well made. If you live in Barcelona there is a fair chance you may come across Kraftkar.

French for Christmas?

Blue cheese
Bleu des Causses

Bleu des Causses is a blue cheese of raw cows’ milk with AOP protection. Mind you, it also comes as a pasteurised version. From the Midi-Pyrenées, France. Matured from 70 days and up to six months in limestone caves in Tarn. Initially, this cheese was made from a mix of ewe’s milk and goats’ or cows’ milk, but after it got its AOP protection it has been made of cows’ milk only. Creamy and oily texture. Great blue veins. Powerful, balanced with hints of milk, spices and some bitter substances. Distinct but well integrated, salty taste. With the exception of the milk, it has much in common with Roquefort.

No Blue Stilton?

Well, what about a real Blue Stilton as it used to be? There is one, but it is not officially a Stilton because it is made of raw milk. Stichelton comes from Nottinghamshire and is made using a very old Blue Stilton recipe. As it is, Stilton, both blue and white are protected and require pasteurised milk being used. So Stichelton is disqualified. Sad, because it is a good cheese, more opulent that the “real” blue stiltons, artisan and may have variations from season to season. Anything from fine acidity to toast to beef stock. That is part of the charm. If you have not tried it, you should. Christmas is a fine opportunity.

Breakfast or supper?

For the three Norwegians and the French you can choose. You can just as well have them on toast for breakfast with tea or coffee, as with a glass of port or some other favourite pairing of yours, for supper. The Stichelton I would save for supper or the dinner party with a glass of matured Tawny to go along.

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