As previously seen this season, I’ve been trolling for new things, both for review purposes and for just plain eating. This year, despite everything, summer has been a good time for new products, especially for me, certified heatseeker. On that same vibe, comes something I never thought I’d see: a spicy blue cheese. Now, don’t look at me that way, I’ve been a fan of the blue since the early 90s, when Wishbone was pushing salad dressings hardcore. I grew up in a household where cuisine was primarily Puerto Rican, through the eyes of a Trinidadian mother, who cooked for the family, to my stepfather’s tastes. Salads, made of iceberg and beefsteak tomato would sometimes be adorned with cucumber. I remember young me moving from the thousand island I was accustomed to(never, ever again, please), to the more refined palate of blue cheese my mother regularly ate.
Ever since then, blue cheese was my dressing of choice. It grossed out my friends, it still does, and when I got older, gorgonzola took over. Young me got on that stinky cheese train early, and when I started my current job and got intimate with more cheeses, I went from being just a heatseeker to also being a stinky cheese boy.
Picking this up, it didn’t smell particularly pungent through its sealed plastic wrapping and foil. Slicing it open, not much, barring that and opening the thing, near nothing. I wasn’t exactly enthused. It’s just not pungent, despite being a blue. The wildfire name refers to peperoncinos added in as a final ingredient, and when I saw that after having purchased it, I stared at the flames on the package and felt cheated.
However, cheated as I felt, I keep going. This wedge is speckled with blue, with deep veins running through with rich deposits. Seriously, this is so littered with blue, if it was a normal cheese I’d probably die from eating it. For a blue though? Let’s go.
The bottom, technically top of the cheese doesn’t have any blue running through it, but has a few scattered pepper seeds here in there, meaning it’s likely aged, flipped, and then wrapped to present the blue side.
The cheese is firm, chalky, salty… salty… with a bite at the end. It’s an eligible crumbler, smushes between the fingers but it isn’t overly delicate. I did find it to have a creeping building heat, but not much. With so little ingredient wise here(milk, bacteria and enzymes, salt, peppers) the salt comes through more than anything else. Seriously, this is the second time I’ve described food as salt and fire. Ack.
Despite that, each bite was satisfying. The salt diminished in the mouth, and the creeping fire of the peperoncino lingered and fizzled. The chalky texture diminished after each swallow with no aftertaste of film. The salt inside isn’t crystallized but it does hide in pockets. This is a sometimes salty, sometimes not salty cheese. Surprise salt.
I used this in conjunction with sour cream, mayo, red wine vinegar and lemon juice to make a little bit of blue cheese dressing, topped a wedge of iceberg lettuce with my homemade dressing, a little more of the crumbled cheese and bacon and had a great dinner. I added pepper to my dressing, I did not add salt, I didn’t dare.
Found at Trader Joe’s.