Ah, bliss... This blue cheese never required much tweaking, but the third offering simply can't be improved-- a creamy yet firm ivory base, grainy rather than pasty blue veins, and tasting of the earth itself: rich grasses, the salty tang of an ocean breeze, and strong, sharp spicy notes.
My biggest challenge this time was what to do with this little treasure. I decided to take samples to wine tasting rooms and other appropriate businesses here in Old Town Cottonwood and get pairing suggestions. Kevin Grubb , the sommelier of The Stronghold Tasting Room, sampled the cheese and without hesitation, suggested "Short and Sweet," a sparkling muscat from nearby Page Springs Winery. I must say, the lad knows his stuff.
I next visited Olive Oil Traders a few doors down from our bakery. The owners, Mike and Dawn Kirkpatrick, are cheese afficionados and spent considerable time concocting an olive oil and balsamic vinegar dipping oil. They decided on a blood-orange infused virgin olive oil with (Modena) cranberry-pear balsamic vinegar. I then consulted with my son, Ryan, master baker and owner of the Orion Bread Company. He opined that his (sourdough) cranberry-walnut demi-batard would stand up to the cheese and also threw in a warm, crusty baguette.
We gathered the crew for a tasting-- cheese, wine, breads, dipping oil. Some of us are still not recovered from this heady repast. I repeat, "Ah... bliss."
A name? Blue cheese is traditionally "blued" in caves. I kind of like "Blued!" with the exclamation mark. Or how about "Blue-phoria?" People like quirky names.