blue stiltonJust before Christmas some friends sent me a package of cheese from iGourmet. One of the cheeses was a Blue Stilton. This is actually a fairly uncommon style. It is rare to see a stilton in your supermarket at the best of times, never mind the Blue version.

Because it was so unusual it was the first cheese that I sampled and to be honest I was a little disappointed. It lacked the depth and richness that I had recalled. But as it had been 20 years since I had tasted a stilton I thought that maybe the cheese was fine, rather it was my memory that was at fault.

I am the only cheese fan in the family and so it took little time for the stilton to disappear to the bowels of the refrigerator. A couple of days ago while on the search for some real mustard I.E. not in a yellow plastic squeeze bottle, the Blue Stilton resurfaced. I stopped my quest and decided that I would give the cheese another try. This turned out to be an excellent idea. When I first tried it, it was fresh from its vacuum packed home, now, 10 weeks or so later, while in an air tight bag, it had had some exposure to the air and wow what a difference. It had ripened.

Real cheese is a living organism and the time spent at the back of the fridge had permitted the bacteria (the blue bit) to come alive and continue its good works.

Crumbly and yet creamy, delightfully aggressive and with just hints of recent bacteria excrement (a good thing in cheese), it was very fine yums.

While normally I would have served it on some good crackers, Carr Water Biscuits, I thought it might be enhanced on real bread. An Italian loaf crusted with garlic and herbs. It was a marriage made in heaven.

Simon Barrett

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