One of our New Year’s resolutions is to expand our horizons, cheese-wise. To that end we decided that, each month, we’ll pick out one (or possibly more) cheeses that we’ve never had before and try them to see how we like them. We can’t really rate these on a “worth the effort” scale as we do recipes, but we can let you know if we think they’re worth buying again. Keep in mind that some cheeses might be more expensive than others, making it more difficult to hit the worth buying again mark.
First up for the new year are Capitoul Baskeriu and Maytag Blue. We don’t remember the exact price per pound, but we believe that at a local cheesemonger’s (the Rumrunner, if you’re in Tucson) case baskeriu was on the order of $18/pound and Maytag blue around $15/pound. A pound being a lot of cheese, we picked up about 4-5 ounces of each.
The baskeriu is a French sheep’s milk cheese that has been aged for about 6 months. It’s quite creamy and buttery, with a slightly nutty taste, and, while some might say the taste is medium-strong, we’d be inclined to class it more as mild. We wonder how well it would melt, since it’s so creamy and buttery. It does remind us of other cheeses that we’ve had in the past, but we’re not quite sure as to which cheeses.
Maytag blue is, of course, a strong, assertive cheese, made in Iowa from cow’s milk, and aged in caves. It crumbles when you slice it and can therefore be difficult to eat just on its own. The crumbles tend to fall off the cracker or slice of bread. Being a blue cheese, it’s full of flavor. You can’t mistake this for any other type of cheese. If you don’t like strong cheeses, this is not a good choice for your first foray into blue cheese; we’d suggest a milder blue, such as Gorgonzola, instead.
Of the two, one of us preferred the Baskeriu and one the Maytag blue, which isn’t too surprising. As far as worth buying again, we’re not sure that we’d put either of these on our regular shopping list, but we’d both lean more toward buying the Maytag Blue again. With that strong flavor, a little will go a long way, which is an important consideration when the cheese is $15/pound. We both think that the place to try this cheese next would be on the Potato and Pear Galettes with Gorgonzola, or possibly in a creamy cheese sauce where you want or need a lot of flavor to stand up against another strong flavor.
Baskeriu: Buy for a very special occasion with people who appreciate fine cheeses. Not for regular snacking as there are other cheeses that will fit the bill.
Maytag Blue: Buy somewhat regularly when you need a nice tasting blue.